Journalist as author: Caroline Allen – The Krays’ London
By Vanessa McGreevy
27 Feb 2020
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
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
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
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?
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.