Exclusive Interview with Lucy CrichtonExclusive Interview with Lucy Crichton

Celebrating its 155th anniversary, "The People's Friend" has a fresh new-look for 2024. The world's longest-running women's weekly magazine, "The Friend" publishes hundreds of short stories every year, giving many writers their first break in the industry.

Inside each and every issue, readers can look forward to 11 wonderful short stories carefully chosen by an expert Fiction Team.

To find out more about about short stories and serials at "The Friend", their process and plans for the future , we caught up with their Fiction Editor, Lucy Crichton.

Morning, Lucy! Can you introduce yourself to readers? 

Hello! I’m Lucy Crichton and I’ve been Fiction Editor here at the ‘Friend’ for four years. I work alongside my Fiction Team colleagues Alan Spink and Tracey Steel.  

The People's Friend Fiction TeamThe People's Friend Fiction Team
Left to right: Lucy, Tracey, Alan, and Karen Milne, Commissioning Illustrations Editor. Pic: Courtesy of Tracey Steel
Park Life - Illustrated by Martin BainesPark Life - Illustrated by Martin Baines
Park Life - Illustrated by Martin Baines

Can you tell us a little about the story selection process carried out for “The People’s Friend”? 

We read what we need, first. When a story comes in, it’s filed according to word count. I then go in and select stories to read, according to what we need to fill the story slots in each publication.

Along with word count, we’re looking for a good mix of seasonal and ‘any time’ stories; stories written for a particular day in the year e.g. Easter, or Remembrance; and we also try to ensure a good mix of authors, genres and tones. 

Our job is to fill the pages of our magazines, annuals and bookazines with feel-good fiction - that’s now around 800 short stories every year. 

Do you have any favourite story illustrations from the past year? 

The opening story in Special 248 – Teresa Ashby’s story, “Park Life” – featuring artwork by Martin Baines - was lovely. Uplifting! To the best of my knowledge, this is the first appearance in our artwork by a story character with Down’s.

I also really liked Helen Welsh’s recent illustration for ‘Map Of The Heart’, which appeared in our March 2, 2024 issue – stunning! It’s unusual for us to go back in time this far in a story for the weekly, but this one was superb – with artwork to match.

What can readers expect inside the pages of The People’s Friend, The People’s Friend Special and Pocket Novel? 

Good reading they can trust. A mix of stories, with something for everyone! Our readers know they can trust us to provide entertaining escapism – quality short stories and serials, with bespoke artwork, and a feel-good, uplifting tone. 

Map of the Heart - Illustrated by Helen WalshMap of the Heart - Illustrated by Helen Walsh
Map of the Heart - Illustrated by Helen Walsh

What changes can we look forward to inside the revamped “The People’s Friend”? 

The good news is that although we’ve refreshed the look of the magazine, we’ll be featuring the same mix of seven short stories, two serials, and one instalment each of our series and ‘soap’ in every issue. 

A Box of Secrets - Illustrated by Kirk HoustonA Box of Secrets - Illustrated by Kirk Houston
A Box of Secrets - Illustrated by Kirk Houston

What genres do you feature regularly?

People’s Friend-appropriate genres are romance, family, cosy crime, general, mystery, ‘spooky’/ghostly, and junior (written from a young person’s viewpoint). 

What fiction can we look forward to in 2024?  

We’re excited to have just started planning a Summer Fiction Bookazine, with over 40 stories - perfect for summer reading! 

Our amazing £10,000 Writing Bursary Competition had a fantastic response, and now that the winners and runners-up have been chosen, we’re looking forward to illustrating and publishing the pick of the crop. 

And we have more fiction opportunities planned for the second half of the year, including our popular ‘Magic Of Christmas’ bookazine. Watch this space!

Thanks for your time today Lucy, we hope you and the rest of team have a lovely 2024! 

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Alongside short stories and unmissable serials, "The Friend" features craft inspiration, expert features covering a wide range of topics including travel, health and gardening, as well as hard-to-resist recipes.

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