Freelance Focus Interview with Phil Mellows

Former features editor for The Publican, Phil Mellows is now freelancing, here he tells us a little more about his work.

Mellows profile on the Freelance Journalist Directory can be found here:

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
Pubs mostly. Pubs and drinks. And then things that have spun off from that. For instance I’ve done a lot of basic business advice for Publicans which is applicable to any small business especially HR matters – training, recruitment, staff motivation, that kind of thing. Marketing. And technology. I’ve become an expert in tills. Help. Is there a support group out there I can join does anybody know?

Where are we likely to see your work?
Search for me on and you’ll find loads. Since turning freelance in August I’ve also worked for Bar magazine, Retail Newsagent and Off Licence News. My latest assignment is with Rider’s Digest, an alternative bikers’ mag. I don’t know a thing about motorcycles but I pitched them a feature about bikers’ pubs. You’ve got to be imaginative.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
I’ve forgotten. I’m a Lou Grant man. It’s all at the bottom of a birdcage now. Apart from the online stuff, obviously. That’s in a server. Or whatever it is.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I’ll do anything for ready money.

Tell us a little more about the book you are writing?
Oh that. It’s got a working title of The Politics of Drinking and it’s mainly going to be about the massive changes in the pub industry over the past 20 years and how that’s related to government alcohol policy. Every time I tell people that I worry they’re going to hang themselves or something, but I’m going to make it thrilling, funny and sexy as well as desperately educational. No, really.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
Out of my own head. There’s plenty going on to write about, especially when it comes to pubs. I don’t believe ideas are a problem. It’s carrying them out that’s the trick.

How can PRs be useful to you?
Give me everything I need. NOW!

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Depends on whether there’s a story in it.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
Sell my body.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
On a new body.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag or blogs on your screen?
I’ve nearly finished Ali Smith’s The Accidental, a great exercise in free indirect style (my favourite), then I’ve got plenty to choose from, stuff I’ve picked up compulsively from second-hand bookshops: Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, Nabokov’s The Luzhin Defence (which I’ve accidently got twice), Canetti’s Auto Da Fe. Plus a couple of new hardbacks: James Wood’s How Fiction Works, which is about free indirect style, and Ian Rankin’s Exit Music, signed personally to myself. It was meant to be signed to a friend but a PR cocked up. London Review of Books is my magazine. I read it to keep in touch with what I think of as the Real World. I’m a blog-sceptic. There’s too many people writing too much rubbish on the net. Apart from my mate Hamish and Chris Maclean, who’s bigger than me. You’ll find them both on
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