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Freelance Journalist Interview: Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy is in the Interview driving seat today, taking us on a trip through her work in motoring and lifestyle journalism. Fasten your seatbelts…

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
Motoring and general lifestyle journalism – TV, hobbies, health.

Where are we likely to see your work?
The Daily Telegraph, MSN Cars, The Sunday Express, Prima, Cosmopolitan, Company. Two recent features include one on Refresher Driver Training for The Daily Telegraph and one on The Smart Girls’ Guide to Buying a Car for Cosmopolitan. I also comment on motoring matters for BBC Breakfast News, Woman’s Hour, Radio 5 Live and Jeremy Vine.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
My two motoring books – The Girls’ Guide to Losing your L Plates and The Girls’ Car Handbook published by Simon and Schuster both mean a lot to me – the first because so many women (and some men) have said it helped them past their test, the second because I enjoyed the challenge of cutting through a lot of motoring jargon and explaining everyday issues to do with owning and running a car in an accessible and hopefully entertaining way. Extracts here.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I’ve done some Behind the Scenes features for various TV programmes and would love to do one for Strictly Come Dancing. I’m such a fan!

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
Reading newspapers and websites, talking with friends, press releases.

How can PRs be useful to you?
Offering information beyond what’s on the website – up-to-date images, case studies, newsy links.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email is best but I’m happy to take calls as well if I’m not too busy and it’s relevant to what I do.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
They can be interesting and good fun but I can’t afford too much time away from my desk so I’m quite selective.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
To not brush me off with ‘look at the website’ if I call and ask for more information on a topic.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I’d run a pub.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
I’d put it towards my next car.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I’m currently re-reading Arminstead Maupin’s Tales of The City series and am a fan of Private Eye.

Find out more about Maria McCarthy at

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