On paper, John-Paul Flintoff is a journalist, speaker and life coach. In life he’s a firework display of ideas, interests and projects.
He makes, bakes, draws and sews. He talks to global companies about creativity and collaboration. His books are so bewilderingly various they include a guide to changing the world, a memoir about making his own clothes (in response to anxieties about peak oil running out), and a creative workbook for discovering what makes your family unique. He’s difficult to sum up in a paragraph.
I worked with him in 2014 conducting interviews with people who had helped him complete his debut novel What If The Queen Should Die? – not co-authors but individuals who had encouraged, inspired and advised him along the way.
I filmed the interviews, in an unsophisticated sort of way. They featured John-Paul’s friends, fellow authors, actors, creative collaborators and life coach.
The point was to get honest feedback. How were the interviewees connected to the novel? Did they contribute in some way to its genesis? What was their version of events? What did they think of the project? And John-Paul?...The material I gathered would hopefully prove useful in publicising the book as a crowd-funding venture.
Each interview shed new light on how the book came into being. For instance, I hadn’t realised that John-Paul had been working on it for years, that he’d overcome a stubborn creative block to finish it, and that one of his methods to help things along was to get actors to improvise some of the narrative’s crucial scenes. Seeing it through different eyes; through different interpretations.
I loved talking to all the interviewees. It felt a little like detective work, discovering the story behind the novel’s creation. And it revealed a clue as to why it’s such a cracking, lively read: because John-Paul allowed his characters to leave his head and have a say in the real world.
Find out more about What If The Queen Should Die?