How did you get where you are?
Sheer luck. I worked for a start-up science magazine called Frontiers. I then decided to go freelance, which was a real hard graft at the beginning – it took me a year to start earning enough to cover the rent.
Editors took a chance with me and I wrote for newspapers and New Scientist. After four years as a freelance, I got a call from New Scientist offering me the job as features editor.
What are your main tasks?
I commission articles, look for feature ideas and edit the copy when it comes in.
What are the most important things you need to know to do your job?
The more writers you know, the better a job you can do. Knowing the writers and their strengths and interests helps in commissioning the best writer for an article. It can be really frustrating when an article comes that isn’t quite the quality I’m expecting, so lots of patience is a must. And when a writer has done a really good job, it’s important to be able to credit them.
What’s the key to success in your area?
Being an inquisitive nosy parker who wants to find out about everything. Having a brain to cope with the academic side of it and perseverance to get to grips with the technical language is needed. Our reporting has to be thorough, with a real understanding of the issues. The writing has to be meatier, analytical and more thoughtful than the science coverage you find in newspapers.
What’s the best and worst part of the job?
I don’t like sitting at my desk for days on end – I do like getting out and about and meeting people. We are encouraged to get out of the office though and meet people. My first responsibility now is to edit, and it’s a joy to edit articles that have been