The Hack’s Progress

Harriet has been a journalist for 16 years. At first, she hoped to become a household name.  

Household names

Now, as she sits in Starbucks, her goal is more mundane: to pay Simon back. Her boyfriend put a roof over her head and this new laptop in front of her. Still, it would be nice to be invited to speak at an Editorial Intelligence Breakfast Salon.  Or just contribute to a trending topic on Twitter, ideally in the same week that it’s trending.

Simon does not approve of Starbucks, or, as he puts it, ‘all that it stands for’. Harriet’s view is less complex. It stands on the corner and it’s a place to work.

Whenever Harriet thinks her career’s going OK, she brings herself back down to earth. What kind of household name would pen features like “What your loo roll says about you”?  

What does your loo roll say about you

That was at least easier than some of the other features. The commissioning editor of RightHere! magazine, a terrifying Glaswegian woman, once wanted a really fun piece on women who’d traded their baby for a Hermes handbag. When Harriet’s jaw dropped, the editor assured her there were zillions of women out there that would feel unconditional love for a Birkin, hen. Especially since it wouldn’t poop and cry all night, and it certainly wouldn’t tell them it hated them in 12 years time.

Harriet knows all about ‘really fun’ pieces.  After making a zillion phone calls and pestering everyone on Facebook, she still ends up without any case studies willing to give their real names and photos, let alone women young, slim and blonde enough. Editors always claim to know their readers, but Harriet doubts if any of them are smart sassy under-40s. RightHere! magazine could probably keep 99% of its readers happy with knitting patterns and offers on cod liver oil.      

Instead Harriet asked “Could it be a Mulberry bag?”

The editor was withering.  “Are ye daft?  Nobody would do that.”

Christmas is coming up and Starbucks has gone all red and green.  This time of year makes Harriet blue so she tries to keep busy. She is up to her eyes in her piece Great Gifts for Under £10.  These are remarkably similar to Great Gifts Over £10, except for the quality.

She wonders about covering Fabulous Festive Gifts Over a Grand, but doesn’t think PR companies will send over the freebies she has in mind. 

freebies over a grand

By now most titles have Christmas sewn up, but there’s always the chance of a last minute request.

The editor at RightHere! will probably ring her with a really fun festive feature idea.  All Harriet would have to do is find three women who’ve had an immaculate conception. They’d have to give their real names and be photographed, of course.  And it would a bonus if their partners are carpenters. 


Harriet is a freelance journalist from my novel One Night at the Jacaranda. This weekend you can read more about her and other single Londoners for only 99p (UK Kindle edition). And let’s face it, what could you get at Starbucks for 99p?

9 thoughts on “The Hack’s Progress

  1. I loved that character! Carol, do you know Frances M Thompson, a travel journalist who has recently published a collection of short stories set in London? I think you’d really enjoy each other’s work – I’ll try to hook you up on Twitter! x

      • Hurrah! She’s probably the one I most identify with, dare I confess! I haven’t read Frances’ latest collection, only the single story free sample that she’s got on Amazon (excellent ploy!) but am looking forward to reading the rest of them. Well, I have to have something else to read while I’m waiting for your sequel! 😉

      • Interesting that you like Harriet. I sometimes feel more affinity with my male characters: Sanjay, Dan, and of course stressed GP Geoff! Better hurry up and write the next one, I think. Will look out for Frances’ new book.

  2. Pingback: An Epiphany | Pills & Pillow-Talk

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