Me, In Brief
Hi, I’m John-Paul Flintoff.
I’m a writer, mostly, and a performer and illustrator. I live in London.
I wrote A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech, How To Change The World, and some other books.
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I’ve published six books, in 16 languages:
- A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech (rhetorical guide-as-memoir, Short Books)
- What If The Queen Should Die? (historical novel, Unbound)
- The Family Project (creative guide, Faber & Faber)
- How To Change The World (non-fiction, Macmillan / The School of Life)
- Sew Your Own (memoir, Profile)
- Comp: A Survivor’s Tale (memoir, Gollancz)
I worked for 15 years as writer and associate editor on some of the best newspapers and magazines in English. At The Financial Times I was staff feature writer, and was closely involved in setting up the current Saturday magazine.
I moved from there to a contract at The Sunday Times. I’ve worked for The Telegraph, The Times and The Guardian and Observer (and some others, but you get the idea).
As a journalist I have written many kinds of stories. I particularly enjoyed immersive storytelling, about working as bin man, executive PA, scuba diver, poet, taxi driver, tailor, gardener, ice-cream salesman, hairdresser, assistant undertaker, bit-part player in pantomime, waiter, illustrator, high-wire window cleaner, photographer, very amateur boxer, karaoke singer, rat catcher, and more.
My latest book about public speaking. I wrote it because I’ve delivered a lot of speeches and workshops – on four continents, to as many as 5,000 people at once – and I find the subject fascinating.
I have written elsewhere on this site about how I had a breakdown, and went into psychiatric hospital, and how – while I was there – I persuaded my psychiatrist to let me out just so that I could travel hundreds of miles to deliver a keynote speech at a corporate AGM. This is one of the (true) stories I told my friend Jaime (now also my agent), causing him to tell me I should write that book about public speaking.
It’s a good story, but at the time I didn’t want to write a book about this, because I feared that publishers would only be interested in some kind of (excuse my language) bullshitter’s guide to manipulating people. Happily, Jaime encouraged me to write a book about speaking honestly, from the heart, and found a publisher who was keen too.
Going back a bit… I only got into speaking in the first place because I was invited to talk about books I’d written. And in 2012 I stumbled on the work of Keith Johnstone, pioneer of theatrical improvisation. I only intended to write an article about him, but then I went on a training course, and it changed me forever.
I sometimes teach others what Keith taught me.
Portfolio here: https://flintoff.org/art/artist-portfolio/
I always wanted to be an artist. And I won a big prize when I was 14. But then a school teacher discouraged me – I see now that he was probably just having a bad day – and I decided to go into writing instead (as if writing is easy!).
In the pandemic, having finished work on my book, and with all my public in-real-life events cancelled, I started to get serious about my art. As well as selling prints, and doing a few commissions, I drew two series of portraits, and started to illustrate books.
I also started running drawing workshops to increase resilience in pandemic, create a sense of togetherness, and improve people’s storytelling.
As well as illustrating, I make books, design T-shirts and once created a range of tableware.
If you are still reading, great! You must (like me) be interested in how other people tick.
Down here in the depths of this page, I’ll attempt to describe things I wrote up there ^ in slightly different ways, in hope it’s helpful. (To you, but also to me, because I like finding out about myself).
One way I like to do that is by drawing up lists, and charts, and just staring at everything till a pattern emerges.
|The Financial Times||Interviews, reportage, personal storytelling, analysis, travel, arts, film, books||We Won’t Go (on extradition), Lunch with a Nobel winner||Richard Lambert, Andrew Gowers, Chrystia Freeland, Julia Cuthbertson, Michael Watts, John Lloyd, Emma Tucker||I didn’t know how lucky I was. Wrote tons of things, can’t list them all here.|
|The Sunday Times||Interviews, reportage, tragedy, personal storytelling, analysis, travel||Don’t Vote For Boris, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Mosque||John Witherow, Robin Morgan, Eleanor Mills, Alan Hunter, Cathy Galvin, Mark Skipworth||Bestselling upmarket broadsheet. Got a bit newsy, less feature-y than the FT|
|The Times||Newsy features, obituaries||Making My Own Clothes, Getting Fit In Six Weeks1||Nicola Jeal||Lately, I seem to have done lots of mental health-type stories for The Times.|
|The Observer||Magazine features||My Public Speaking Triumphs and Disasters||Harriet Green|
|The Guardian||Newsy features, travel||Roger Alton, Kath Viner, Harriet Green||I wish I knew what I was going to put in this table. It’s exciting to find out.|
|Legal Business||Investigative features, profiles||Magic Circle firms, Lord Saville, Michael Beloff QC, odd crime stories2||Karen Dillon, Catrin Griffiths||Thought it would be SO boring but it was utterly brilliant|
|Campaign||Features about ad people||Actually, I was mostly subbing (sub-editing) here, not writing.||Headlines had to fill the space exactly. Mad, but good discipline|
|Wallpaper*||Travel, mostly||Kiev, Houston||Richard Cook||Got myself arrested in Ukraine, (literally) flew into a Texan thunderstorm|
|The New Statesman||Newsy features, some personal stories||How To Change The World||Christina Odone, Jason Cowley|
|Harpers Bazaar||Glam stuff||Travel, interviews||Lucy Yeomans, Harriet Green|
Took me hours to put that table together. But even that tells you something about me: I always want to know how stuff works. I enjoyed every minute working out how to create it using Textpattern.
Things I use, or like, that may interest you
What’s Happening Now
Giving talks, mostly about speaking (a bit meta, that).
Auditing the tech I use.
Thinking about how all writers have doubts.
Launched an ADEQUATE podcast.
Ran a Newsletter Challenge, June-July 2021: a month-long exercise, in company with others who want to do their own newsletters.
“Walked” from London to Canterbury, entirely on Google Streetview, as a Desktop Pilgrimage.
Virtual Artist in Residence during lockdown: drawing people online, in various communities.
Ran a month-long course in public speaking, on Zoom.
Researching my next book, a non-fiction journalism-y thing.
Preparing for these upcoming Public Events
1 Getting Fit In Six Weeks, The Times.
You can download a PDF: File: Six Weeks To Change Our Bodies The Times.pdf [645.22 kB]
Download: 23 Back
2 Odd crime? For instance, spending 24 hours with a “duty solicitor” (the type who gets called to police stations to represent somebody who has been nicked); or the story of a Bank of England employee who got caught after smuggling home in her underwear tens of thousands of pounds in used notes that were supposed to be destroyed. Back