…based on a real life story.
Years ago a doctor told an ill friend of mine to ‘go and read life stories’ as part of her recovery. I thought it a peculiar extra to the prescription. Granted, the doctor practiced alternative medicine and this meant he gave ‘whole body’ remedy advice… but advising on book choice? It seemed a bit ‘beyond the call of duty’… to my teenage mind.
We moved and I went on to study journalism. Unanchored, the friendship eventually set adrift and we lost touch. After completing a year’s course, I found a job on a local newspaper as a reporter. I also worked at the Pope’s radio station in Rome for a while reporting on forgotten wars; and later for a business publication.
I went freelance and then wrote company newsletters. I turned them from monotonous monthly flip-throughs into something people discussed during their lunch breaks. I introduced guest editors, exclusive interviews with senior members of staff and even an agony aunt column. Nevertheless, I enrolled on a Masters course in Media and Communications Management.
The turning point came, during my dissertation research, when I stumbled across a 1966 profile piece by Gay Talese in Esquire magazine on Frank Sinatra and said to myself ‘this is how I’d like to write about people’. It was real yet artistically written; like you were watching a film.
I compared it to a modern day feature on Lady Gaga by Caitlin Moran, published in The Times. The main difference between the two was that the Talese piece on Sinatra made me, not only understand Frank better but also myself and the human condition. He turned a story about one man, into a story about men.
I realised that a true story, written in this creative way can win you an army of hearts, and not just those of your fans. And so I set off in search of the misunderstood to help tell their untold tales…
N.L. Collins, guiding light in Real Life Stories