Why do you write?
Writing was a hobby, and a way to ensure my shocking memory doesn’t turn my travels into a list of place names in the future. A few people convinced me that I’m quite good at it, so I submitted a couple of articles to small magazines. It went well, and I loved every minute of it. Things have gone from there.
What are your qualifications?
I have a (4 year) Masters Degree in Chemistry from the University of Warwick (UK), with a final year practical specialization in the reactions of Buckminster Fullerene (‘Bucky Balls’). I’m also a qualified EFL teacher with several years experience behind me. Whilst I do occasionally write about my EFL experiences in Korea, Ireland and Germany, I rarely write about science, as I feel a much higher level of understanding is required to do the field justice.
In terms of writing, I have undertaken several journalism courses, but I’ve largely learnt on the job. I’m fortunate enough to have worked with some amazing editors at small magazines, who have taken vast amounts of time and effort to help me understand the requirements of writing for publication, as well as the legal angles that need consideration. Learning by doing has always been more effective for me than theoretical courses, and I believe I stand amongst the majority of freelance journalists in letting my articles do the talking. I hope that my practical training and my own journalistic style shine through in my writing.
Where have you been published before?
A quick summary of my previous experience can be found in the ‘clients’ section. This is by no means a complete list, but does cover most of my more high profile work. If you require more information, feel free to get in touch.
How much do you charge?
The day I have complete control over this question, I’ll be a very happy man. In the writing industry, cost is largely dictated by editors. Whilst I’m open to offers, I would expect any offer to – as an absolute minimum – cover the cost of (and time spent on) any necessary research trips as well as a reasonable sum per hour for writing the article. I will, very occasionally, write an article for free, but only under exceptional circumstances (for example, if I particularly like the idea of a story and just can’t resist writing it, or if I feel having an article featured in a certain publication will be beneficial enough that it’s not worth worrying about being paid on that particular occasion).
This is my livelihood, and though freelance writing can be a cut-and-thrust, low-paid area, it involves much more ability than flipping burgers. I do it for the love of it, but I also have to make at least enough to eat and pay rent. As someone, somewhere once said, ‘if you’re good at something, don’t do it for free’. Having said that, I always try to be reasonable, and understand that circumstances aren’t always simple. Make me an offer, and I’ll be very happy to talk.
How do I pay you?
I have a PayPal account attached to my yahoo email address (see contacts), and that’s probably the easiest way to go. A cheque to my home address is also fine, though please email me to check the address first. I’m a traveller, and my address is rarely that steady. If you’d like to pay another way, drop me an email.
When do you expect to be paid?
I’m a trusting guy, and if you’re attached to a publication or site of reasonable size, payment on completion (or even later, if you’re providing a written contract) is fine.
What about tax?
My freelance writing business is registered as a solo trader business in the Republic of Ireland. I pay my own taxes, so you don’t have to worry about it. We can do things a different way if you prefer, though it tends to make things very complicated. If you require my business registration number, or a receipt, let me know.
What if I’m unhappy with your work?
I’m very happy to offer limitless re-writes with any articles I submit, providing you’re prepared to be reasonable in telling me what you want changing, and how you want it changed. Though my articles may occasionally miss the mark you had envisaged, I’m almost always able to deliver on these articles after a re-jig. Just tell me what you want!
Do you write in British or American English?
I’m English, so British English is my natural default. Having taught in an American language school in Korea for 18 months, however, I’m very capable of switching into American English if this is what you prefer.
Who built your site?
My site was built by Sean at advancedesign.ie, though I added most of the content myself. If you’re looking for something similar, I’d be happy to put you in touch with him.
Why don’t you have more articles on your site?
Most publishers buy the exclusive copyrights to articles on publication, so I’m unable to publish them myself. I prefer to only post published articles, so as to provide an accurate demonstration of what I normally produce. Some publications have been kind enough to allow me to reproduce articles here, other pieces have become publishable due to copyright expiry, or for a number of other complex legal reasons. Less than 5% of my articles are eligible for re-publication here, and they’re intended as a sample of my writing, as opposed to a thorough directory.
Can I use the articles from this site?
If you want to quote a small part of an article, that’s fine, though I’d appreciate it if you reference me, and where possible provide a link. If you’re looking to reprint an entire article (or reproduce it on your website), the answer depends on my own copyright agreement with prior publishers, but there’s no harm in asking. If the answer’s no, I can probably write you something similar. Please do not reproduce articles without permission: I do check, and I will certainly consider legal action.
You claim to have worked for… but I can’t find any evidence of your work online
Many of my articles – especially those published in Korea – are print only. I’m able to provide scanned copies of some of the articles, providing you’re an editor and agree not to use or redistribute the article. Others are only published in books or leaflets; you’ll have to go out and buy them/ pick them up to see those. I also have agreements with some websites that allow them to print my work unaccredited (i.e. with no by-line). If required, I can provide links to the parts of those sites that I produced.
My comments aren’t showing up on the site.
Due to the amount of spam prevalent on sites that allow comments, I moderate everything anybody writes. I try to check as often as possible, but if I’m off traveling, or I’m very busy, this may take some time. If you have something negative to say, you’re more than welcome to do so, providing it’s done so in a civil way. It’s my site, so I get to be the judge of what’s civil!
Can you write me an article about…?
Possibly, the best way to find out is go ahead and email me. If you check the map in the travel section it’ll give you an idea of where I’ve visited before. If I haven’t been to the place before, but it’s not too far to go (or you have a particularly special offer to make), I’d be happy to take a look at my schedule and consider it, just get in touch.
Do you provide photos?
Again, that depends on the situation. Just because I’ve visited somewhere, that doesn’t necessarily mean I have publishable photos of the place, but it’s always worth asking. If you’re funding a trip for writing purposes, or we’ve made arrangements before I take a trip, then of course I’ll be happy to take photos as well as write. Unless it’s particularly difficult, I don’t charge extra for this. I have had numerous photographs published in the past, though I’d describe my level of photography as ‘competent’ rather than exceptional. I’m a writer, not a photographer. I use a Canon 40D, and can provide photos in any commonly used digital format. Photos size is 10MP, and I’m usually able to offer exclusive rights.
Do you speak any languages?
I’m actually embarrassingly poor at languages. It’s a British affliction. I can do the basics (and I mean the real basics) in Korean, French, German and Italian, but if you’re looking for someone to interview in a foreign language, I’m sorry to say you’re in the wrong place.
What’s your favorite travel location/ experience?
That’s like asking a father to pick his favorite child. But I’ll try. For sheer shock value (and being intrinsically interesting), it’d have to be my two trips to North Korea. In terms of enjoyment, I think Prague is an incredible city, and Seoul will always have a place in my heart after 18 amazing months working there. I also love (and equally often hate) India, as well as Nepal and the beautiful south coast of Turkey.
My favourite experiences include working at the Chateaux D’Oex Hot Air Balloon Festival (Switzerland), climbing in the Himalayas (Nepal), staying with a family in Goa during the Ganesh Festival (India), and the untouchable Glastonbury Music Festival (UK).
Tell me where you’ve been.
There’s a complete list of countries on the travel page, and you can read my thoughts on each experience on my personal travel blog, here. (note: my personal blog is a scrapbook of thoughts, and is intended for the consumption of my friends and family. It’s far from perfectly edited, and this is a conscious thing. When I’m writing my blog, I’m not working, and I don’t want it to feel like that).
It’s not possible to travel directly from South Korea to North Korea…
This ‘question’ is usually in reference to my article for Romar Traveler in late 2008. You’re right in a sense, in that it is no longer possible to cross between the two Koreas over the DMZ. Before a deterioration in the relationship between the governments over the past year (and the shooting of a South Korean tourist), however, regular tours were run from Seoul to Gaeseong and Kumgangsan (in North Korea), by Hyundai Asan. The tours are now closed indefinitely, though it is still possible to pass into North Korea via China (with advanced booking, and depending on nationality).
Can you do an interview with…?
IF there’s an easy time for us to meet up (or they’re willing to do so by phone or email), and IF the musicians have an interest in meeting me, yes. But access to big name musicians is not easily granted, so you’ll probably need to have a fairly high profile magazine placement for the article before it can be organized with ease.
Can you review my band’s album?
I’m always happy to have a listen to new music (feel free to send me a few tracks – finished tracks only please or you’re doing yourself an injustice). What I can’t promise is publication. Editors tend to have their own agenda, but there’s no harm in trying. Send me a digital copy (or a hard copy with a quick explanation to my home address), and I’ll see what I can do, but please DON’T add me to your band’s mailing list. I’ll look you up if I need to, but I won’t read your fan update (or press) mailings. I get more than enough spam already.
A music critic is just a musician without talent.
Yes, yes, I heard. And you’re right in a sense, I am a dire musician. I always try to be fair in my assessments, and I certainly make an effort to encourage the local music scene. We might not always see eye to eye, but I like to think my work is a good thing on the whole. You’re more than welcome to disagree.
What is … like in person?
If I see you down the pub I’ll tell you, but until then my lips are sealed. But most of the musicians I’ve been fortunate enough to meet have been pleasant and interesting.
Still have a question? I’m more than happy to answer any sensible queries about any aspect of my work by email, just head on over to the ‘contact’ section.