Mirror man takes back seat to his author wife

HE'S a man used to prowling the corridors of power and having the ear of the great and the good, Prime Minister Gordon Brown included.

But South Shields-born journalist Kevin Maguire had to swap big scoops for babysitting while his wife penned a bestseller.

Kevin Maguire is used to working long hours at the office. As associate editor of the Daily Mirror, the 47-year-old is a slave to deadlines and breaking news.

But when wife Emma Burstall announced she was going to write a book, he became a slave to the whims of their six-year-old son Freddie instead.

Kevin, who grew up in Whiteleas, South Shields, said: "With Emma working long hours on the book, and me working long hours at the Mirror, we had to make a compromise.

"I was coming home at night and entertaining Freddie while Emma worked on her novel, and weekends would be spent taking him out and about. I also took him back up to South Shields a bit more than usual too.

"The hard work that Emma put in has really paid off, though. There have been some fantastic reviews, and it's great reading them when you've seen the book come together from the start."

The book in question is Gym and Slimline, a novel about a group of women who become friends at a gym.

The novel is the realisation of a dream for Emma – a dream which started on the back of an envelope.

She said: "The desire to write a novel has always been there, but it's such a big idea that it's difficult to take the first step and begin writing it.

Emma and Kevin met when he was a cub reporter on the Western Morning News in Plymouth after he had been turned down by the Gazette.

She'd written for some of Britain's biggest magazines and newspapers, but she'd always yearned to write something more substantial.

And with Freddie around the house – the youngest of the couple's three children – it fell on Kevin, a former chief reporter at the Guardian and political editor at the Mirror, to play mum.

Emma, also 47, said: "When I first sat down to the work on it, the writing process was quite fast, and I'd written a substantial amount in a few days.

But obviously with family commitments and looking after the children, progress became much slower.

"That's where Kevin came in. He was fantastic at helping look after Freddie while I locked myself away to finish the book.

"I don't think he's ever seen to much of his nana and grandad in Laygate, when he's travelled up there with Kevin.

"Kevin works long hours anyway, and there were a lot of weekends where he'd usually be relaxing doing hobbies when instead he had Freddie while I was typing away."

Emma was given a two-book deal by Preface Publishing, part of Random House, after submitting a half-finished version of her novel.

She said: "It really spurred me on knowing that all the writing wasn't in vain.

"Anyone out there who has always dreamed of writing a novel should just go for it. It's one of the best things I've done.

"I'm now working on my second novel, which has a Geordie theme, but I can't say too much at the moment. People will have to wait and see."

She added: "The whole experience has been really exciting.

"Just the other day, I had a call from Kevin when he was in WH Smith in South Shields.

"He'd seen it on the shelves for the first time, and he was so pleased for me."

* We've got five copies of Gym and Slimline to give away to Gazette readers.

To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question – where did Kevin start his journalistic career?

Send your answer, on a postcard, with your name, address and phone number, to: Gym And Slimline competition, c/o David MacLean, Shields Gazette, Chapter Row, Tyne and Wear, NE33 1BL. Entries should arrive by next Thursday.