Successful journalist Sarah Lang may have started her working life sleeping in her mother’s garage, but she has quickly climbed the ranks to become a multi-award-winning feature writer.
Born and bred in New Zealand, Sarah Lang (34), began her career as reporter for the local newspaper covering Taupo, Turangi and Rotorua (New Zealand). For the last six years has freelanced for around 20 publications including North & South, Next, Canvas, NZ House & Garden, Reader’s Digest, and the Herald on Sunday’s magazines.
She’s interviewed celebrities such as Helen Mirren, Diane Kruger and Gabriel Mann (Nolan on Revenge) , writes for many leading publications in the country and tutors at NZ Writers’ College. Laura Walker tracks Sarah Lang’s journey up till now.
Q: How did you become a writer? Tell us a bit about your development as a writer.
A: I’ve always been a bookworm, and was fascinated by magazines from an early age. At primary school, I remember asking my teacher if I could have the boxes of magazine she was going to throw out, and I read every page. I’ve always wanted to be a magazine writer and was lucky enough to get there. I did a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, then a communications/media degree majoring in journalism (in retrospect doing two degrees was overkill). Sending in a humorous, kind of zany CV got me a job as editorial assistant at North & South magazine, which was part admin and part writing.
Q: What was your most challenging time as a writer?
A: The most challenging time was when I couldn’t get a first job after I’d finished studying. Every job had received so many applicants, and I landed some interviews for community newspapers, but even there the competition was too strong. I had no job, no money, no flat, no car and was sleeping on a mattress in the garage of my mother’s very small apartment. Then I got a job, reporting for papers in Taupo, Turangi and Rotorua.
Q: What inspires you to write?
A: Reading inspires me to write. The Anne of Green Gables series made me fall in love with reading as a girl. I read the whole set over and over till I virtually knew the books off by heart. Novelist/short-story writer Junot Diaz, is one of my favourite authors. I am crazy about fiction, and write book reviews of new-release fiction, cover books for a local magazine, co-edit a book-review site, and also run the Wellington Classic Literature club where we read and discuss a classic a month. I have a subscription to the New Yorker magazine, my favourite magazine in the world, and find that so inspiring, entertaining and educational.
Q: What has been your greatest writing achievement?
A: I’m one of the least scientific people I know, yet somehow I won the science and technology category of the 2008 Qantas Media Awards for my 6000-word North & South story on ESR scientist and former crime-scene investigator Dr John Buckleton. It was very early in my feature-writing career, which made it extra-special.
Q: How easy is it to make a living as a writer?
A: If you’re good, it’s pretty easy to make a basic living. But you certainly won’t have lots of money to throw around.
Q: Which celebrities have you interviewed?
A: Helen Mirren. Diane Kruger. Gabriel Mann (Nolan on Revenge). And many a New Zealand celebrity.
Q: What was your most exciting experience as a writer?
A: Interviewing Helen Mirren. I adored her.
Writing Awards for Sarah Lang
- 2007 Qantas Media Awards: Human Relations winner
- 2008 Qantas Media Awards: Science and Technology winner
- 2008 Qantas Media Awards: Junior Magazine Feature Writer finalist
- 2010 The Magazine Awards: Journalist of the Year (Women s Interest) finalist
- 2011 The Magazine Awards: Journalist of the Year (Home, Food & Garden) finalist
- 2011 The Magazine Awards: Journalist of the Year (Lifestyle) finalist
- 2013 Cathay Pacific Travel Media Awards: Runner-up for The Best Travel Story about New Zealand
Read some of Sarah Lang’s published stories online:
NZ Herald‘s Canvas magazine
NZ Herald’s View magazine
About the Author
She spends her time playing tennis, cooking healthy food, diving in places such as Mozambique, and exploring the island of the Seychelles.