I'm extending a warm welcome to Samantha Clarke on my blog today. As well as being the assistant editor on the fascinating academically researched non-fiction book, A History of Caludon Castle – The Lords of the Manor of Caludon she's also a friend and colleague from the good old days of working at the Coventry Telegraph.
Before chatting about the book I asked Sam about her career in journalism and whether it had always been her ambition to go into this line of work. Here's what she said:
“I wanted to be a journalist from a very early age. My father was a journalist and he'd tell me all these exciting tales. I also developed an interest in local news very early on. I remember a careers talk at school when I was about 11 or 12 and the careers advisor asked all of us if we knew what we wanted to do. When I told her I wanted to be a journalist I remember she said: 'What's your name? I'll look out for you in the Coventry Telegraph in 15 years time.' I started there 12 years later. I always wondered whether she did remember my name and look for my by-line.”
Sam worked on the Coventry Telegraph for many years, in fact we sat two desks apart! I asked her about the best and worst parts of working there.
“I could highlight so many 'best parts' I started at the Telegraph at the age of 24, having previously trained at the Rugby Observer for four years, working my way up to Deputy Editor. I'm very much a people person and I believe there is no better profession to get the opportunity to mix with people from all walks of life. I really enjoyed 'people' stories and have met such inspiring individuals along the way.
"Over 12 years on newspapers I covered everything from local fairs to murders and sudden deaths among children. It sounds morbid but the tragic stories were always my favourites as without exception, despite prior nerves when door-knocking, I always received good vibes from people and in a lot of cases the families would thank me for listening. I almost felt like I'd helped them to open up and share their grief. I received a lot of thank you letters along the way and have kept all of them to this day.
“Also I would argue that I worked in newspapers during the glory years. I have made some excellent friends for life along the way. Perhaps contrary to common belief journalists are a great bunch of people and I had the privilege of working with some really talented, inspiring individuals. I still see them now, almost seven years after leaving the newspaper.”
As for the worst parts, Sam said, “The worst part - especially when I worked on the Rugby Observer, which was a weekly newspaper, would be following a good story over a few days
and preparing it for the following week's newspaper, only to have certain developments kill the story before it gets into the press. That was so frustrating!”
Talking about A History of Caludon Castle, Sam said, “It is actually my father's book and had been in the pipeline for many years. It was during his time as a pupil at Caludon Castle School where
he became fascinated with this mysterious ruin. Both my father and I grew up in the same house in the shadows of the castle. He had played in Caludon Park as a young boy and both he and my grandfather Jack very often took me there when I was a little girl. As I grew older I too became fascinated by it but until now little was known about its history as it wasn't very well documented.
“I became involved in the book by accident. About three years ago, having watched the book slowly all come together and hearing my Dad speak of the latest findings, I asked if I could read it. Perhaps due to my background in journalism I found myself proof-reading, rather than reading the book. As I got more into the proof-reading I found it an extremely enjoyable experience and a real learning curve. I haven't read it since it's been published but I am looking forward to reading it as a
reader, as opposed to a proof-reader.”
I suggested to Sam that it must have taken an awful lot of research. She explained, “The book was researched by two professional historians – George Demidowicz and Stephen Johnson. George had been the Building Conservation Officer for Coventry City Council for over two decades and
was also the head of the Conservation and Archaeology Team. Prior to his involvement in the book George had also been involved in repairs of Caludon's ruins. Stephen had previously been the Administrator of the Manorial Society for Great Britain before becoming an independent historical researcher in 2001.
“The book received some great support from the Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, whose ancestors lived at the castle. While the book was being put together my father, along with George and Stephen, made a number of visits to Lord Clifford's home - Ugbrooke Park in Devon - where they were allowed access to historical documents relating to Caludon and dating back to the 1220s. These were invaluable and took the book to a whole, exciting new level. I'm not sure how long George and Stephen worked on the book but I first met them both back in about 2008 and it was already well underway then.It has been a real labour of love on all sides.”
Sam reported that the team behind the publication of the book have been pleasantly surprised by the way it's been received. “We have received an excellent response to the book - with demand far
higher than we had expected. We thought orders would come primarily from residents who had grown up in the vicinity of Caludon Park but we've taken orders from all over - including one from New Zealand! The press showed great interest too with a fantastic feature in the Coventry
Telegraph and a great review in the Birmingham Post. We have been delighted with the response.”
“I had never edited a book before. It was a real learning curve for me and a fantastic experience. I went on to create the index as well which from memory was 2,000 words alone. This was painstaking but again a great experience which has given me another string to my bow. Since undertaking the Caludon project I have found a new skill which I love. I've since joined the SfEP as an Associate Member and am looking to train as a proof reader / editor. It's very early days but I can't wait to see what this new chapter may hold.
Read more by following this link:
A History of Caludon Castle - The Lords of the Manor of Caludon.
The book is academically researched and is the only book solely dedicated to Caludon and its manor and traces the history from the 1200s through to the present day.
It contains 220 pages, with 76,000 words and 110 illustrations, with references to Caludon's links with royalty and William Shakespeare.
The book marks the fulfilment of John Clarke's lifelong ambition which sought to unravel the 800 year-old history of the castle.
The book received sponsorship from Shortland Horne Residential Ltd.
Publisher John Edward Clarke OBE
Author and Editor George Demidowicz
Co-author Stephen Johnson
Assistant Editor Samantha Clarke
To purchase the book, or for more details contact Century PR on 024 7622 8881.