Freelance journalist Focus with Chris Schuler
Freelance journalist Chris Schuler tells us about his work and experience.
About your journalism:
What do you write about?
Books, travel and the arts, especially modern fiction, literature in translation, the history, culture and politics of Central and Eastern Europe, heritage and the built environment, archaeology, classical music and contemporary visual art.
Where are we likely to see your work?
Over the past year my writing has appeared in The Independent, the Financial Times, The Tablet and the New Statesman. I also have a blog about books, Notes in the Margin (http://christopherschuler.independentminds.livejournal.com/), on The Independent website.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
I have fond memories of doing a long feature for The Independent on a little book called Kafka’s Soup, by Mark Crick, “a history of world literature in 14 recipes” consisting of clever parodies of writers from Homer to Irvine Welsh. The French publisher organised a reading at a beautiful little theatre in Paris with stars including Irène Jacob. It was a magical event, and a joy to write.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I would love to report on an important archaeological discovery, to rediscover a significant but neglected writer, to find a terrific artist in a grungy gallery in an unfashionable part of town, to be present at the birth of some exciting project and break the news to the wider world.
About you and PRs:
Where do you source ideas for articles?
Mostly they come directly from publishers or their PRs, but I also subscribe to DWPub (obviously), Book Brunch, Entertainment4Media, The Bookseller and the wires. But even in this electronic age, you still can’t beat word of mouth, so I attend as many events as possible and keep in touch with a wide range of people.
How can PRs be useful to you?
It sounds obvious, but by pitching stories that I’m interested in, and which I have a chance of placing somewhere they will get a reasonable amount of exposure.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email is fine. I’m open for business all hours.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Bring ’em on, I say.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
By targeting the information they send as accurately as possible – but then it’s equally part of my job to spot the stuff that interests me and which I know I can place. It’s a two-way relationship that needs cultivating on both sides.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
Writing, editing, putting together something for publication, is what I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s a privilege to get paid for doing it. But if I weren’t a journalist, I’d probably have been an archaeologist – an equally impractical choice when it comes to paying the bills, I’m afraid.
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
Travelling in Eastern Europe to research a book I’m writing.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I’m currently reading my way though a stack of books for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award, as I’m on the judging panel. In my bag is the latest Private Eye. My favourite blog is by the novelist Amanda Craig (www.amandacraig.com/pages/blog_01/index.asp) – it’s like getting a proper letter from a kindly, intelligent and witty friend.
[lnk|http://www.journalistdirectory.com/journalist/XiLzi/Chris-Schuler/|_blank|Chris Schuler on the Freelance Journalist Directory]