In an era when most of us are desensitized to the most taboo topics, writer Sophie Saint Thomas still manages to find subjects that seem pretty shocking (or, at the very least, you may not send many of her articles to your mom). With regular bylines at Vice and Broadly, she has spent the summer writing about people with surprising interests—couples who get off on tattooing each other, real-life vampires who search for human blood, and neo-pagans who concoct love potions for the bedroom. But Saint Thomas is able to write about her subjects without an exploitative streak, which is perhaps the toughest skill of all: to make the extraordinary somehow ordinary—amusingly titillating and recognizably human all at once.
Where do you live and how old are you? I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and am 28-years-old.
What made you first interested in your profession, and how old were you when that happened? When I was 20 years old I spent my summer living in London taking classes and interning for a local non-profit television station. I pretty much always knew I wanted to work in media, and during high school and early college thought that meant television and film production. During the internship, there was a lot of downtime. It was a wild and transformative summer, and I spent many nights going to see music. During my free time at my internship, I started a music blog and began writing about the shows I went to. I have a specific memory of going to a Sigur Rós show, and no one in the crowd was moving, and they dropped white balloons on everyone and feeling such a swirling of complicated and intense emotions I had to let them out somehow. Pretty immediately, writing felt like home. When I returned to classes in the fall I switched majors from television and film production to journalism and began writing for my school’s newspaper.
Do you feel Brooklyn is still a viable place for a young person to build a career? Absolutely. You can connect with and learn from so many creative people, and the vibrancy of the city itself is inspiring. I’ve found creatives in Brooklyn are often enthusiastic about helping others and building communities. Not to mention there’s literally always something going on, and experience often makes for the best muse.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Ideally writing books and using the millions I’ve inexplicably made by then to open an animal rescue farm.
Have you ever felt like leaving your career path? No, I’ve never felt like giving up writing, but I’ve certainly thought about taking day jobs in other industries (and have worked many shitty temp jobs) to finance my writing during harder times.
What’s felt like your biggest professional accomplishment? Honestly, just getting to a place where I can write full-time feels like an incredible accomplishment.
What’s some advice you’d give to people trying to get a foothold in your industry? You have to really, truly, all the way want it. No one who says they want to pick up writing simply as a hobby is going to make it, for the most part. As a freelancer, you have to be willing to pitch relentlessly and not take it personally when pitches aren’t accepted, and be willing to keep going and keep pitching. If you’re just starting out, unless you’re on staff somewhere (and maybe even then) expect to work others jobs early on in your career to support yourself financially. Make friends with other writers and respect your editors. Build yourself a community. Should you be lucky enough to experience success, pay it back and help out other writers. Don’t worry about competition, helping another writer you believe in will never be bad for your career. Read constantly. Read the publications you write for, hope to write for, and writers you look up to of course, but also read a variety of books to get offline and to expose yourself to a variety of styles and language.
Who are your role models in your industry? Molly Crabapple, Karley Sciortino, and all of my editors I work with. I owe my editors everything.
To learn about more sub-30 standouts, visit this year’s list of 30 Under 30.