People: Interviews: My Story

Kate Spicer

Writer, author and documentary filmmaker

My Story

Writer, author and documentary filmmaker, Kate is a UJ fave and has taken the time to speak to us amidst the launch of her first book, Lost Dog.

When I was a schoolgirl I was a drama club kid, and I wasn’t a bad singer. Writing crept up on me. The kind of lifestyle writing and journalism I do isn’t going to bring down presidents or save the world. It’s all entertainment, really, isn’t it?

Journalism seemed like a free pass to places I normally wouldn’t be allowed. It’s also an industry without as many rules as others. Also, I like writing. Or more truthfully, love having written, as Dorothy Parker said.

If you’re thinking about a career in journalism I’d say: pitch pitch pitch. You can find stories absolutely everywhere; stories are under your nose, and if you hone them in the perfect one paragraph pitch, then you will learn what a story is and what makes something interesting. Journalism has changed so much, it’s hard to make money unless you are feted by a big employer or you have a smart personal brand platform. Still though, good writing matters. Saying something funny, interesting, and of substance matters. Approach everything with the five Ws in mind: who, where, when, why, what. Don’t ask closed questions. Have a book by a writer you love to fall back on when you are stuck – it’ll jolt you out of writer’s paralysis.

To my younger self I’d say: go to bed, you’re a mess. Eat more butter.

Career highlights? I worked for some brilliant magazines when they did not rely as much on the blessing of risk-averse advertisers as a lot of media does now. GQ under Michael VerMeulen, The Face under Sheryl Garrett and Richard Benson, the Sunday Times Style under Tiff Darke… I cared a lot about doing a good job but when it came to upsetting the grown-ups and money men, no fucks given. Such good days. If you want a shorter answer: my documentary, Mission to Lars, getting an ace review from the New York Times slightly blew my mind.

And lowlights… Where to start. I’ve messed up great opportunities through being hungover or not believing in myself.

I just wrote my first book, Lost Dog. I might write another one.

Wolfy keeps me out of trouble so I take my dog everywhere, though I avoid escalators after a London Underground worker told me the worst that can happen to dog paws. We spend a lot of time at Mike’s Cafe on Blenheim Crescent in the daytime. They always give him a couple of sausages and sometimes I steal a bit.

Lost Dog: A Love Story is out 4 April on Ebury Press. Buy now.

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