Hi, I’m John-Paul Flintoff.
Writer, mostly, and a performer and illustrator. Based in London.
I’m the author of six books, in 16 languages, including How To Change The World and A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech. I worked for 15 years as writer and associate editor on the Financial Times, the Sunday Times and other papers and magazines.
I run a paid membership called Adequate Projects, which provides moral support and a bit of financial freedom, in return for discounts and exclusive access.
Download two-page bio as a PDF
In January 2022 I deleted my old Mailchimp Newsletter, because it felt all wrong. I’m building up a new one. Sign up here:
Books (most recent first):
- 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)
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.
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).
Very good, very funny.Harold Pinter, Nobel-winner
In fact... it made me laugh.
Journalism included many kinds of stories. 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.
More detail in Further particulars below.
Latest book is about public speaking. 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.
It's not often we haveJane Garvey, BBC Radio 4
a paragon on the show... very funny.
Elsewhere on this site you can read that 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 (true) story led my friend Jaime (now also my agent) to tell me I should write that book about public speaking.
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 got into speaking in the first place because I was invited to talk about books I’d written. And in 2012 I started training with Keith Johnstone, pioneer of theatrical improvisation. I sometimes teach others what Keith taught me.
Art helps me to make sense of what is difficult, and to find beauty in the everyday.
You can see my portfolio here: /art/portfolio
My art is often figurative, often involves drawing and painting. I also make physical objects, and I have a lifelong fascination with folding paper and making books.
When I was 14, I submitted a painting to an adult competition in London and won a special award. It was a seascape, but also about people: a couple stood on one side, and a solitary figure on the other. I’ve never really stopped being interested in connection / exclusion.
John-Paul Flintoff is the mostPhilippa Perry, BBC Television
practical dreamer I know.
In the pandemic, with events cancelled, I started to get serious about my art. As well as selling prints, and doing a commission, I created two series of portraits to capture a sense of human community, and started to illustrate books.
I also ran drawing workshops, with storytelling, to create a sense of togetherness.
You can buy my art on T-shirts; there’s even been 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.
|Note: I may change the table contents every so often.|
|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 Freeland1, 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 Weeks2||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 stories3||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.
Provisional, incomplete list of things I use or like
Paper, pens etc
Notebooks for writing: Leuchtturm. I got fed up with Moleskine, for some reason I can’t recall. I use different coloured books for different things. See this post about my so-called Bullet Journal.
Pens for writing: Pilot Hi-Techpoint V5
Sketchbooks: Cass Art’s finest, or similar. A6 for the back pocket, but also A5, A4, and even occasionally A3.
Pens for sketching: Staedtler pigment liners. Various thicknesses. Prefer them when the ink starts drying out and the line is scratchy.
Drawing apps: Procreate, on the iPad. Aggie.io for online drawing collaborations.
Transcriptions of audio and video: Rev.com. There’s a robot option and a real-human-typist option (pricier but better).
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.
Coaching. If you feel stuck, I do 90-minute Reclaim Your Creativity sessions. I’m not making a big fanfare about it, because I don’t have many slots. Special Projects members get priority.
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, about How To Write.
Preparing for these upcoming Public Events
Art Exhibition: “Adam & Eve (And More) In Childs Hill”.
1 Chrystia Freeland.
Chrystia is a phenomenon. At the time of writing this footnote, she’s the second-most powerful politician in Canada. She’s half-Ukrainian, and helped me when I wrote about Kiev/Kyiv
3 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.