Freelance of the week...Rob McGibbon: 'Keeping the wolf from the door? Just bite its head off'

How did you get into journalism?

I spent a year getting drunk in Cardiff in 1984-85 while popping into journalism college.

I then joined the Wimbledon News, but got sacked just over a year later for moonlighting on The Sun.

So, my Fleet Street career started with full-time shifts when I was 21, which was ridiculously early.

It was thrilling, if terrifying, working for Kelvin MacKenzie at his demented best. The Sun in the late 80s was like a borstal, with people getting mentally roughed up all day and every day.

How long have you been a freelance?

My last job was as a staff showbiz writer at The Sun, which I quit in February 1990, and I’ve been on Freelance Island ever since.

I’m doing a longer stretch in solitary than Papillon.

What is your main line of work?

I am an inveterate interviewer of celebrities. I think of myself as a desalination system. The garbled, messy outpourings of celebrities go through me and re-appear in a newspaper as pure little sips of clarity for people to enjoy.

Who are your main sources of work?

Last year, I created two new interview columns, My Tube and The Definite Article, for the Daily Mail’s brilliant Saturday magazine, Weekend.

I set-up and write the interviews for both columns each week.

What’s been your best ever gig?

Having two columns in Weekend is pretty good.

I am reliably informed that The Definite Article is the most widely read newspaper interview column of its kind in the world!

And what’s been your worst?

Going to Malibu in 1993 to interview Steve McQueen’s son Chad.

He was an A-list prat who gave me and the photographer the run around for a week.

We started off staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel and ended up in a festering Holiday Inn.

I never got paid – but the Malibu sunsets are the best I’ve seen. Always take the positive out of every experience.

Ever do anything ridiculous for money?

Thanks to my surname, I interviewed some chimpanzees for the Daily Star in 1988.

The piece worked so well I was then sent to play football with some pigs. “Franz Baconbauer” is still the high point in my pun-writing career.

Any ambitions beyond freelance writing?

I founded the interviews aggregation website Access Interviews.com in 2008.

It is my passion project and I have grand plans for its expansion. The IPO is only years away.

Secret of keeping the wolf from the door?

Just open the door and bite the wolf’s head off. Freelancing is not for the faint-hearted, but don’t be afraid.

Read lots, keep your ideas original, and never celebrate until the money is in the bank.

Freelancing is about managing disappointment.

Rob McGibbon can be contacted at www.robmcgibbon.com

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