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Freelance journalist Focus: Steven Rowland

Freelance journalist Steven Rowland tells us how his work leads him in to everything from travel writing to penning speeches for politicians. His work has appeared in the national press and magazines including Square Mile, Front, and Overseas Living and he’s setting his sights on another 642 with his new blog,

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
To my shame, whatever pays. When I started freelancing around three years ago I hunted down tricky, interesting subjects and have had features published on illegal organ trading, prison conditions around the world, how a whole town in France went mad after eating ergot-tainted bread and whether or not we should all be taking cognitive enhancing drugs. Increasingly however, I’ve concentrated on fluffy travel pieces that pay well and quickly and have even had a piece in The Daily Mail – something I swore I would never do. It’s all your fault Gordon Brown. Earlier this year I spent some time in the Caribbean writing speeches for politicians which was a bit of an eye opener.

Where are we likely to see your work?
Well, if things go to plan you’re likely to see it everywhere. Out of frustration I’ve decided to pitch every UK magazine listed in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook over the coming 2-3 months. There are 642 of them altogether (magazines, not months), including Trout and Salmon, The Trumpet, Black Beauty and Hair, and Aeroplane Monthly. Then I’m going to write a book about my experiences. Then I’m going to have a breakdown because no-one is willing to publish a book about my experiences. In the past I’ve written for The Guardian, The Independent, Square Mile, Front, Bizarre, Business Destinations, Overseas Living – the list goes on, but only to about another four or five titles.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
A couple of years ago I had a feature in the Independent about nearly dying from an allergic reaction which was fun to both write and research (but not to experience). I’ve had one or two features in Front that I can still read and smile about, but most of my work causes me to curl up into a ball when I re-read it. I even proof my stuff squinting as I can’t bear to see quite how horrible much of it is.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I’d love to have a regular column somewhere so I don’t have to go through the horror of pitching all the time. It would probably be rubbish though. I often fantasise about interviewing Benicio del Toro and becoming best friends with him. I’m 34 years old and should really grow up.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I’ve had somewhere in the region of 100 jobs, as a carpenter, door-to-door salesman, croupier, research assistant and so on, so I’d probably go back to something that I had to stop doing because I wasn’t very good at it. Not appealing.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
A lot of people say they would spend it on a nice holiday or paying off credit card bills. I’d probably plan to do that but spend it all in the pub. I’d like to buy my wife some shoes. And the world a Coke.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I’ve been battling with Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation for some time now. Bukowski always comes in handy. I’ll read Men’s Health chain smoking and drinking wine and feel good about myself. Blogs? I’ve set up and abandoned four without writing a word, though if I stumble across an interesting blog I can spend the whole day reading through the archives. I’m now running which charts the progress of my attempt to pitch every UK magazine.
[lnk| |_blank|Pitching the World]
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