Freelance Journalist Focus Claire Hopley

Claire Hopley is an author and journalist who specialises in food and travel. In this Focus she tells us more about her work.

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
I write about food and travel, I also write on some historical topics and I do quite a lot of book reviews – mostly novels but also books about food and culinary history.

Where are we likely to see your work?
A lot appears in American newspapers and magazines: The Boston Globe, The Washington Times, British Heritage. In the UK my work has appeared The Guardian and in Woman’s World

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
I love a travel piece I did on the Haro wine festival in northern Spain, but my books are certainly the most intense and memorable work I’ve done. They are histories with a food focus: The History of Tea and The History of Christmas Food and Feasts. Both use literary sources to show how people felt in other eras so they explore food in a different way. They have some unusual recipes too.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
Can’t easily answer this because there’s so many topics: Having lived in the USA I’m keen to write on American regional food for English cooks. I’d like to do some articles on tea times. It would be terrific to travel round Europe, taking in a lot of smaller or less well-known places and writing a journal with a focus on food but also covering life, culture.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
I get most ideas from reading or talking with friends and readers. Occasionally, press releases about new products spark ideas.

How can PRs be useful to you?
Food PR is most useful when it is about something really new. Samples are important; recipes much less so. Travel PR is most helpful when it goes beyond the holiday clichés. It doesn’t need to suggest specific article ideas, but it should inspire them by offering new insights into places.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email contact with plenty of lead time. Anything with a seasonal element really needs to get to me months ahead of the ideal publication date so I can pitch and article and write it.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
I find them useful because they keep me in touch with food and travel industry specialists.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Don’t send material that isn’t genuinely newsworthy.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I’d teach adults – about food, about writing, possibly about literature.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
On travel. I’d love to go to Antarctica. I’d also like to go back to Greece. I’ve spent some time working there, but I’d like to explore the parts I didn’t get to see. South America and New Zealand are other places I am longing to visit.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
Mostly the novels I review. Currently, Joyce Carol Oates’ Little Bird of Heaven. I also have the latest issue of Petits Propos Culinaires – a food history journal — because it’s a great size for reading in bed. For magazines, I have Food and Travel right now. Often I have delicious, BBC Good Food, or other food magazines so I can see what editors are featuring.

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