Fires & Fireplaces magazine is like the bible for our industry and its editor, Erica Royle, could certainly cite all things hearth related as her specialist subject, were she to appear on Mastermind. But we decided to find out a little more about the real Erica.
How long have you been editor of Fires & Fireplaces?
I’ve been editor of Fires & Fireplaces for just over five years now. My first issue was August 2011, which, now I’ve counted, means I’ve just completed my 50th issue. Time really does fly when you’re having fun!
How did you get the job?
I was first introduced to David Spencer, owner of The Fireplace Marketing Company and the publisher of Fires & Fireplaces, in 2005 and I took on some marketing consultancy work for David at that time to support the promotion of the Hearth & Home Exhibition. In early 2011 when the previous editor, Philip Malkin (who also happens to be my father!) retired, David approached me and asked if I would be interested in taking on the role.
Where did you work before that?
My background is in marketing, predominantly campaign management, and I’ve worked for a diverse range of organisations over the years from global financial services to the private education sector. Before I started as editor of F&F I spent two years as marketing manager for an energy advice firm that managed the now disbanded Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre contracts on behalf of DECC for the North East and Cumbria and Lancashire regions.
What do you love about your job?
The variety. No two days are ever the same in this job thanks to the diversity of the products I write about, the people I meet and the places I am lucky enough to visit. The fireplace industry is incredibly fast-paced with advances in manufacturing, product innovation and regulatory changes happening on an almost daily basis, but yet it is also still alive with traditional craftsmanship. I love the fact that I can be writing about the feasibility of converting heating appliances to run on hydrogen one day, and the next be watching a stonemason hand carve a bespoke fireplace.
Funny anecdotes related to your current job?
I’ve been fortunate to be invited on a number of overseas trips as part of my job and there have been some funny moments on a couple of these. Touring Venice in the pouring rain with other trade journalists as guests of MCZ and Specflue sticks in my mind. Someone bought a job lot of rain ponchos and we all looked like Teletubbies!
Where do you live?
I live in Hurworth, a small village on the Country Durham and North Yorkshire border, right on the River Tees. It is a beautiful part of the world, sandwiched between four National Parks – Northumberland to the North, The Lake District to the West and the Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors to the East and South.
What do you do in your spare time?
I do a lot of walking and running to keep fit and I love baking, the former going some way to cancelling out the damage of the latter! Most of my spare time is spent with my family.
- Food – Would have to say seafood. Put me in front of a big bowl of steamed mussels with some crusty bread and glass of dry white wine to wash it down, and I’m a very happy woman indeed.
- Place to holiday – The Indian Ocean. Before we were married we spent three weeks in the Maldives and it was the most relaxed I think I’ve ever been in my life. Closer to home, it would have to be the Isle of Wight.
- Book – We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. The most harrowing, compelling and thought-provoking novel I’ve ever read.
- Film – The Goonies. This came out in 1985 when I was 12 and I remember being desperate to find a treasure map in the attic after seeing it for the first time. It’s the ultimate childhood, feel-good, adventure film and one I still enjoy watching with my daughter today.
- Music - I love music of all different genres. I grew up listening to my father’s John Denver and Fleetwood Mac collection. I’m a huge fan of Prince - there will never be anyone else like him. I’m looking forward to seeing Jack Savoretti live in concert this November, and most often on my iPod at the moment is the album Chaleur Humaine by Christine and the Queens.
Do you have any pets / children?
My daughter Emily is 11 and is just about to start secondary school so it’s an exciting and challenging time for her. We don’t have any pets but I know Emily would dearly love to get a Labrador puppy. Maybe one day!
Do you have a real fire at home?
I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t! We had an old gas fire removed when we did some building work about ten years ago and never replaced it. I’ve long held a dream of moving back to the South coast and my ideal home there will definitely include a wood burning stove and a view of the sea.
Do you have any traditions associated with the fireplace in your family?
Given that my father spent most of his career in the fireplace industry in one form or another, and considering the job that I do, it’s odd that we don’t. Many of my early childhood memories feature the fireplace in one way or another though. My Great Grandmother always sat close to an open fire in the winter months and I can still recall the distinctive coal fire smell of her living room. My paternal Grandparents lived in a big Victorian semi in Buxton, Derbyshire with a fireplace in every room. I remember their dog always used to sit right on the hearth soaking up the heat from the fire and how I would hide under the covers when I stayed there trying to block out the eerie sound of the wind in the chimney.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
I’ve done a few crazy things for charity including hitchhiking to Paris, sliding on a zip wire across the River Tyne in Newcastle from the roof of the Baltic Centre, a 10,000ft tandem sky dive and cycling the Coast to Coast from Whitehaven to Sunderland.