Craig Taylor: why we should have faith in humanity and talk to each other a little more

I am currently working on my major journalism project for this semester which is basically putting together a magazine from scratch. I am the editor of the magazine which is called Chase and I wanted to let you know what I’m up to as it doesn’t look like much on here at the moment which is very far from the truth.

I recently interviewed Craig Taylor, author of (most recently) Londoners – The Days and Nights of London Now – as Told by Those Who Love it, Hate it, Live it, Left it and Long for it, for a chat about London, people and the weather. Craig compiled his book over the course of five years, interviewing around 250 people living in London, 80 of which made it into the book. Londoners is a vivid snapshot of the city, through the kaleidoscope of people that make it what it is today.

As a major influence and inspiration for our magazine, we wanted to know from the expert how to approach a stranger and extract a story; a technique we are going to have to master over the next eight weeks!

The first time I met with Craig and told him about our magazine, he dutifully told me that there are no real rules for this kind of thing, ‘just don’t give up’.

“It didn’t take much to get people talking. What I found is if you speak to them about what they do, then they will happily open up to you. The real trick is to shut up and not talk over the top of them.”

When asked about his motives for creating Londoners he said: “There are a lot of books written about London by people with a very specific aim and I knew I couldn’t write a history of London, for instance Jerry White’s histories, I knew I couldn’t do that.

“So I thought this would be a way into writing about this city that would allow me to do it in a way that is different from a lot of the other writers. And I like how people speak, the conversation that arise out of places. This kind of form allows for a different type of history, a social history.”

This is a snippet of the conversation, I will publish the finished article in due time. Sorry about the bad editing and coffee shop sounds!

Here is also a BBC interview with Craig about Londoners after the launch last year, featuring some of the people featured in the book if you want to have a look!

The website for Chase which is all about everything that we’re doing behind the scenes to put the magazine together is insidethechase.wordpress.com if you’d like to check it out!

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