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Journalist as author: Caroline Allen – The Krays’ London

The Krays' London cover

Caroline Allen is a lifestyle journalist, author, blogger and copywriter. She covers wellbeing, travel, lifestyle and careers and has written two novels, Inside Number 129 and Behind the Scenes. Here, she tells us about her first historical guidebook, The Krays’ London.

Can you introduce your book in a couple of sentences?

The Krays’ London guides people through the lives of East End London gangsters, Ronnie and Reggie Kray. It takes you through each place they visited and lived in and is great for anybody who has an interest in the criminal history of London.

How did you come to write The Krays’ London?

My great grandfather used to cut their hair. He was full of stories about them when he was alive and I loved listening to them. I realised that I had all these stories that had never been told and when he passed away, I was eager to share them somewhere. It took me a few years — and a lot of interviews with people who used to know them — but I’m pleased with how it came out and I think he’d be happy with how I told his story.

Are you working on another book or do you have other projects under way?

I do. I’ve just finished writing a fiction book and I have another non-fiction on the way. I’ve made it my goal this year to really push forward with my writing — particularly with my non-fiction ideas. It’s too early to talk about them really, but I’m hopeful that this will be a good year for me — fingers crossed! I haven’t worked with an agent before, I’ve done everything directly through publishers and whilst I’ve enjoyed this experience, I’d really like to try to work with an agent this year. I think it’ll mean I get to spend more time writing and less time trying to figure out the admin side of being an author, which can sometimes be a challenge.

Can you offer any advice to other journalists thinking about writing a book about their own specialist area?

Be consistent. If you’ve got an idea, you just need to start it and then chip away at it every week. If you let a month pass by without writing anything, you’ll find it difficult to get back into — at least I do. I also think it’s really important to write for yourself. If you send your first three chapters to agents and don’t get any interest, keep writing. Some of my favourite pieces of writing have never been placed anywhere (both as a journalist and an author) but if you write because you love to write, your time will never be wasted.

What books are you reading right now, or about to pick up?

Ah, I have loads. I’m reading Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth. I loved Animals and this is just as good. She is such a sharp writer who I’d always recommend. I do monthly book reviews for Yahoo — so I have to get through 12 books a month which means I listen to a lot of books on Audible too. If you’re not sure where to start but want to read something amazing, I will always recommend The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne to everybody. It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time.

Are there any examples of your own journalism that you’re especially proud of or would just like to share?

I’m proud of a lot of my mental health writing — mainly because it opened up a conversation, which is really important to me when it comes to mental health. I wrote a piece for Stylist on night-time anxiety and I’ve also written something on my own blog about how to sympathise with somebody who has a mental health issue if you don’t. It led to so many of my friends sharing their stories with me and it has made us all so much closer. As a journalist, I think it’s important to be vulnerable because we’re in a position to help other people.

Are you available for freelance commissions, speaker opportunities or other roles?

Yes, absolutely.

If I’m a PR professional with a story or opportunity for you, how should I get in touch?

Via email please. I read all of my emails and try to get back to as many people as I can.  

The Krays’ London (07/10/2019, Pen & Sword History) is available in paperback here. Connect with Caroline on Twitter @carolineallen__ or via her website

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