I’ve been a journalist for 14 years , beginning my career on SFX magazine back in March, 1996. I’d been on a course at Highbury College (bizarrely, the college turned out to be run by the mother of an old school friend of mine from back home) in Portsmouth, an NVQ-linked thing in Magazine Journalism run by the Periodicals Training Council. I approached SFX about my compulsory work experience placement; then-editor Dave Golder agreed. After 10 days he offered me a job. Although there was no budget for a writer, he snuck me in as a production assistant [a junior sub-editor, those who check that which others have written], cunningly changing my job title several months down the line. I never completed to the PTC course, leading to the course leader to say “Don’t do it kids, he’ll never be a writer now he’s a prod assistant.” Shows how much he knew. Still, I actually have no academic qualifications in this field.
I was there until December, 2004. I had a great time. SFX was a very vibrant office, catty at times, but mostly grand and I remember all the lads and lasses there with great fondness. I travelled a fair bit, went to some amazing parties and interviewed some of SF’s most remarkable people as I worked my way up to Deputy Editor. When I got there was nowhere else to go. Future, SFX‘s owner, had taken a hammering when the Dotcom bubble burst and was undergoing a period of retrenchment, so there were no other magazines being launched – well, at least none I fancied applying to edit.
Games Workshop had offered me a job on their venerable gaming magazine White Dwarf twice, but I’d turned it down. It was too early in my career, I figured, to go into something so niche. If I went in, I thought I’d never get out. But they were advertising by then so I and my good friend Jes Bickham went up to Nottingham together to be interviewed for the same job; editing White Dwarf. I got it, he came up a while later to edit their The Lord of the Rings gaming magazine, but that’s his story.
While at White Dwarf, I was part of the team that cut it back from seven or so haphazard international editions to one, centrally produced product with a strong marketing bent. It wasn’t perhaps what I’d have done with the publication given free reign, but I was proud of the work me and the team did nonetheless. However, this was born out of a protracted period of interdepartmental warfare. On another front, I wasn’t enjoying the corporate culture much. Although the place is stuffed full of amazing people and I love the things they make, it was hell on my nerves. I applied for the SFX editor’s job to try and get away, when Dave Golder did finally decide to leave, but it went to the very experienced David Bradley instead. He’s still there, doing a far better job than I could have done.
So, when Matt Bielby, founder of SFX, offered me a job back in Bath editing Death Ray, his new pretender to SFX‘s crown, I jumped at the chance (I literally did do a little jump).
Death Ray was brave but doomed, the complexities of running a business proved, well, more complex I think than Matt had foreseen, and SciFi Now, launched the same month almost, didn’t help. Death Ray was fun, but sadly came to an end in 2009 despite much support from our by then co-owners Rebellion, publisher of 2000AD. Thanks for that.
I still journalise, so to speak. I do plenty of freelance work, editing and creating magazines and writing features and reviews, mostly for SFX, god bless ‘em. As a pathologically grumpy Northern misanthrope and inveterate Square Peg, I like being my own boss, but sometimes sat at the top of the stairs (I have no office, I really do work at the top of the stairs) I miss the hyper-energy of the Fex back in the day, the manoeuvres we had to pull off to get WD made, the adventurousness of ‘Thray…
On the other hand, it’s only three feet to my bed.
Collected here, then, on these pages are some of my journalistic works. Enjoy, or not, according to your whim.
An important note: All the works on this site are drawn from my original raw copy, so may well differ from the articles as printed in some small regards, and occasionally in major ones. The benefit, of course, is that you might get never-before-seen material! And also my own sharpened opinions, untrammelled by editorial sensibility. You have been warned…