THE journalist Belinda Bennett launched her career in the British newspaper industry at the former Exeter Weekly News in February, 1983. She had been advised by an internationally renowned author that a newsroom was a good place to “discipline” her writing. He had read an article, Only Their Paradise, which Belinda had submitted to a fanzine as a naïve 16-year-old. It was her ‘take’ on the humanitarian crisis facing Palestinians at the turn of the 1980s. She had little grasp of the politics or history of the conflict but, the author said, her writing showed “promise”.
She went on to work for newspapers as a reporter across the South West of England, including the Sunday Independent, Bridport News and Chard and Ilminster News. But she is best known for her seven-year tenure as Editor of the hugely popular Midweek Herald, in East Devon, which covers her home town of Honiton.
A sometimes controversial figure, Belinda blotted her copybook at an early stage in her career – running off with a British rock star’s son, whom she met on the steps of a magistrates’ court. He was fresh from the dock and she was on court reporting duty. They have a daughter, Fern, and granddaughter, Yasmin. Belinda also has a son from a previous relationship, Jamie.
Belinda ‘retired’ from the newspaper industry to concentrate on creative writing in June, 2015. She had been working as a copy editor, crafting headlines for daily and weekly newspapers along the south coast.
Her first piece of fiction, about a magic china frog, was inspired by the BBC children’s television series Lizzie Dripping. It was considered by a major publisher when Belinda was just nine years old. Teenage angst prompted further creative efforts but, after both her parents died when she was in her early twenties, she concentrated on journalism.
Belinda lives by the sea in Lyme Regis, Dorset, on the Jurassic Coast.