Saturday, 23 July 2011

Guest Editing on Real People Magazine

Back in January, I applied along with hundreds of others to be in with a chance of becoming a Guest Editor for the magazine for the day. I wrote about why I wanted to be considered and was shortlisted, and after submitting further details about myself was chosen as one of three successful applicants.

I didn't really know what to expect from it all, but my motto is to seize whatever opportunities come my way.  Thankfully, Ian is more than happy to support my recent habit of upping sticks and gallivanting to London to attend events, but I'd never been away from the family for three days before.  I was understandably nervous, but with Megan as my travelling partner, I felt the fear but did it anyway!

The itinerary arrived a few days before we left and I was surprised to find that we were to be treated to an action packed  three days. Not only would I be working on my own pages in the magazine, but we'd also be treated to amazing meals out with key members of staff, a theatre trip, a guided tour of London all whilst staying in the gorgeous Russell Hotel.  Add to that chauffeur driven cars and I was starting to feel a little celebrity-esque!

We arrived by train and were picked up at Euston Station and escorted to our hotel.  I have never seen such an amazingly grand hotel.  The Victorian building had intricate mosaic floors, stained glass windows and carvings in the stone walls.  It has been sympathetically preserved and I could easily imagine the lords and ladies who would have been guests over a century ago.   But for two nights this was going to be home to us!

We met up with the other guest editors and their travel partners and we developed an instant comradery born out of our shared adventure that lasted for the duration of our trip.  Carol and Leanne were both fabulous ladies and I'm so glad I got to meet them!

After settling in, we were driven to the National Magazine building in the heart of London to meet Samm Taylor, the editor of Real People, and some of the team.   We learned a few tricks of the trade and got involved in the process of seeing the front cover through from conception to being sent off to print.  The amount of work that goes into every detail is quite amazing!

We had a fabulous meal at a bistro restaurant where I indulged in my first ever Artichokes and also my first Chocolate Fondant (they always make them on Masterchef and I always fancied trying one!)  It was a glorious meal and we meandered back to the hotel feeling very satisfied indeed!

Goat's Cheeses Tartine with Olive Tampanade and Artichokes
The next morning started with an excellent cooked veggie breakfast (I so could get a taste for this life style).  We then headed off "to work" for the day.  As guest editors we were involved in every step of the process including the morning meeting where potential stories were discussed.  We saw what goes on in different departments and I was particularly impressed with the repro guys who use their skills to improve photographs.  We flicked through their portfolio and saw some pre-photoshopped Angelina Jolie photos used in a glossy monthly mag. They made all her tattoos disappear, replacing them with clear, gorgeous skin showing through her elegant backless dress. Clever stuff.

After lunch I joined the features team to work on my pages.  I was briefed and then left to get on with writing the copy for a double paged feature.  I was also photographed, interviewed and videoed.  It was great to be immersed in such an exciting, fast paced working environment and trusted to have input in some publishing decisions.

A quick bite to eat was followed by Priscilla Queen of the Desert accompanied by cocktails in light up cocktail glasses.  It was camp, colourful and completely fun.

Our last day involved an unusual guided tour onboard an American amphibious vehicle from World War Two lovingly referred to as a Duck.  The Duck Tours are a huge hit with tourists and we embraced the whole experience, trundling around the streets of London looking at the sights before heading offroad and driving straight into the Thames!

A final lunch with the editor saw an end to an amazing three days.  I couldn't thank Samm and her staff enough for the experience.  We were treated like VIPs and it was an honour to be let loose on an established magazine.  My pages will appear in about four weeks time.  Once it's published I can tell you more about what I did...needless to say I'm quite excited by it all!


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