Jack MessengerThis media kit is for the media (obviously), booksellers, reading groups or anyone looking for information in a quick, easy-to-print format. Feel free to browse, look around and print what you need. Jack is always happy to talk.

 

Contents

Jack Messenger’s Biography | Contact Information | Book Information | Promotion Information | Media Appearances | FAQs

Jack Messenger

Short Bio

Jack Messenger is a full-time novelist and freelance editor. After living in deepest France for eight years, he exchanged self-sufficiency in fruit and veg for a life of glamour and greyhounds in Nottingham, UK, and is thus more than qualified to write about culture shock and miscommunication. A life-long reader and writer, and a widely published author of non-fiction, Jack’s fiction has been reviewed as ‘compelling’, ‘fantastic’, wonderful’, ‘serious’ and ‘engaging’ by people who clearly know what they are talking about.

Long Bio

Jack Messenger was born in Baden-Baden in what was then West Germany. He spent most of his childhood in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire in the UK, and studied philosophy under the late, great Antony Flew at the University of Reading, where he received his degree. He immediately entered the publishing industry, first as an editor of children’s books, then as an editor for a book-based charity and, finally, as an editor of academic books for Blackwell in Oxford, where he met his wife, Brigitte. He then became a freelance writer and editor for clients such as Berlitz, Blackwell, the Bookseller, Routledge, other writers, and various university presses. For Berlitz, he wrote travel guides to European cities such as Berlin, Bruges, Dublin and Ghent, and for New Holland Publishing he wrote a travel guide to Prague  (all of which enabled him to have some fabulous holidays). Simultaneously, he was also editing and writing a range of books and materials for international aid agencies based in Geneva, which involved even more travelling. He and Brigitte then moved to Burgundy, France for a decade, where they ran the equivalent of a smallholding and became self-sufficient in fruit, veg and backache. Jack also learned to speak French. A bout of cancer, coupled with technological developments and a sudden desire for city life, led them back to the UK, where they live with their greyhounds in an award-winning development of eco-houses in Nottingham. Jack is now almost entirely taken up with writing fiction, for which he has been lucky enough to have received outstanding reviews (but precious little income). He also reviews fiction for his own blog and is a regular contributor to the Compulsive Reader and the Midwest Book Review.

Jack MessengerPhotos of Me

You are welcome to use these photos of me. If you click on an image below, it will pop-up a larger version. You can then click the Download This Image link to save the photo to your own computer.

Jack MessengerJack MessengerJack MessengerJack MessengerJack MessengerJack MessengerJack MessengerJack MessengerJack MessengerJack MessengerJack MessengerJack Messenger

Contact

For all media queries, event/booking information,  review copy requests and any other questions, please contact Jack via this website’s contact page or else

email: jackmessenger39[at]gmail[dot]com

phone: (0115) 9525512

twitter: @39stepsJack

Jack Messenger’s Books

 

Jack Messenger, Four American Tales

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Book Specs

TITLE: Four American Tales
AUTHOR: Jack Messenger
PUBLISHER: Greyhound Press
PUBLICATION: 10 April 2016
RETAIL PRICE: Free
ISBN-13: 978-1524204211
PAGES: 59

 

Farewell Olympus by Jack Messenger

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Book Specs

TITLE: Farewell Olympus
AUTHOR: Jack Messenger
PUBLISHER: Greyhound Press
PUBLICATION: 15 June 2018
RETAIL PRICE: £3.99 ebook £8.99 paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0244681937
PAGES: 306

PRESS RELEASE: Here

Take the Late Train

Book Specs

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TITLE: Take the Late Train
AUTHOR: Jack Messenger
PUBLISHER: Greyhound Press
PUBLICATION: 7 September 2018
RETAIL PRICE: £3.99 ebook £8.99 paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0244410087
PAGES: 278

PRESS RELEASE: Here

 

Noah’s Arc

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Book Specs

TITLE: Noah’s Arc
AUTHOR: Jack Messenger
PUBLISHER: Greyhound Press
PUBLICATION: 10 October 2018
RETAIL PRICE: £3.99 ebook £15.99 paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0244413873
PAGES: 552

PRESS RELEASE: Here

 

The Long Voyage Home

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Book Specs

TITLE: The Long Voyage Home
AUTHOR: Jack Messenger
PUBLISHER: Greyhound Press
PUBLICATION: TBA
RETAIL PRICE:
ISBN-13: 978-0244715762
PAGES: 308

PRESS RELEASE: Here

 

 

Farewell OlympusPhotos of Book Covers

You are welcome to use these photos of my books. If you click on an image to the left or below, it will pop-up a larger version. You can then click the Download This Image link to save the photo to your own computer.

The Long Voyage HomeNoah's ArcTake the Late TrainTake the Late Train

Noah’s Arc

The Long Voyage HomeFarewell OlympusFour American TalesNoah’s ArcTake the Late TrainJack Messenger, Four American TalesFarewell Olympus by Jack Messenger

 

Promotion Information

Whenever promoting a book, please link to https://jackmessengerwriter.com

When you post a review or promotion, please let me know so that I can add or link to your promotion from https://jackmessengerwriter.com.

Media Appearances

Interviews

Frost Magazine interviewFrost Magazine interview about Farewell Olympus

SWNS.com interviewSWNS.com interview about Farewell Olympus and my experience of living in France

 

 

 

 

 

Interviews on Moorlands Radio, Radio Essex, SFM, BBC London, Siren FM and Future Radio

Articles

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CONTINENTAL DRIFT: Fewer Britons dream of new life abroad thanks to UK heatwave

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Laughter is the Best Medicine: How Writing Farewell Olympus Helped Beat Depression

SWNS.com articleSWNS.com review of Farewell Olympus

Female First articleFemale First humorous article on my experience of France, linked to Farewell Olympus

 

 

Target Readers

My readers at present are overwhelmingly educated women – around seventy per cent, I’d say. They tend to have a social conscience and they read a great deal – the classics as well as contemporary literary fiction. They also like genre fiction, especially thrillers, mystery and crime, and also non-fiction – biographies and memoirs and interest-related books. They are people who purchase books online regularly (paperback and ereader). A subset of my readership comprises educated younger people.

Jack Messenger | Feed the Monkey

Click To Go To Books Page

Reader and Blogger Reviews

Farewell Olympus

Four American Tales

Take the Late Train

FAQs

Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.

I’ve always written ever since childhood and of course I have always read books. I was quite a solitary child, so for that reason I was thrown back onto my own resources. Books – and later on, films – became my natural home and my window on the world. Eventually, I started writing my own stories. English was my best subject at school by far. As an adult I have always worked in publishing, so you might say I have lived among books and writing all my life. I have a handful of Berlitz travel guides to my name, but for the last few years I have been writing fiction. Four American Tales was published a couple of years ago, and my novel Farewell Olympus is out now, with Take the Late Train, Noah’s Arc and The Long Voyage Home hot on its heels. Today, I write because I feel I have to, it is part of me and it is something I can do reasonably well. And I see it as a personal contribution towards helping explain ourselves to ourselves, of widening our sympathies and understanding.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

I’ve just published my novel Farewell Olympus. It’s set in Paris and tells the story of a young man named Howard, whose ambitions for the sweet life are thrown into chaos by the unexpected arrival of his half-brother Eugene, whom he finds waiting for him on his doorstep. I’ve always like the idea of twins and opposites and how conflict can contain affection, even love, so that must have been some of my inspiration. Generally, however, like most writers, inspiration comes via hard work and unfolds day by day. I had the idea of someone turning up and ruining everything, and I quickly thought of Paris for some reason, so I wrote a few pages and that led me onwards and upwards to Olympus. There are elements of mystery and danger in the story that I had a lot of fun making ridiculous or farcical. It’s a book very close to my heart and, I believe, the best thing I have written so far.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I write with a goose quill dipped in snake venom.

What authors or books have influenced you?

Every book I’ve ever read has influenced me in some way. I think books are like experiences: we can’t recall everything that’s ever happened to us, but all of it made us what we are today. Authors I admire include Dickens, Vidal, Capote – there are hundreds.

What are you working on now?

Promoting Farewell Olympus is taking up all my time at present, but I am nourishing the idea for another novel about a stranger who comes to live in a small town and sets off conflicting reactions. That’s about as far as I’ve got! It takes me ages to develop an idea.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

It’s a marathon! Be true to your vision. Cooperate with other writers. Help others. Listen to advice but make up your own mind.

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take three or four books with you, what  would they be?

The Wine of Solitude by Irene Nemirovsky; War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; Lincoln by Gore Vidal; O Pioneers by Willa Cather.

What is one thing that no one would usually know about you?

‘I once played volleyball with the archbishop of Barcelona’ is the first line of my novel Farewell Olympus. And I really did once play volleyball with the archbishop of Barcelona! But I never talk about it …

What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?

I had a totally unexpected review from Mark Gordon, whose novel, The Snail’s Castle, I greatly admire (read it!). Ages after I published Four American Tales, he put a short review on Amazon, which included this:

‘Unerringly, the hues change from story to story, from the atmosphere of alienation in One Hundred Ways to Live, to the outlandish, satirical humour of Ballbusters on Parade, to the intersection of childhood memory and death in Uncle Mort. Messenger’s language is precise, the right word, that gives you the feeling you are holding its weight in your palm, admiring its glint. These short stories, in my opinion, stand with the best in the form, and I would unhesitatingly place them on the same shelf with authors like Salinger and Carson McCullers.’

Phew! That really made my day, and I’ve been basking in the reflected glory ever since.

Are the names of your characters important to you?

Characters’ names are extremely important, and I imagine they are for most authors. Think of your own name and how it is part of who you are; how it encapsulates a world of thought and feeling and experience for those who know you. Perhaps it is a name that has a long history and means something in particular; perhaps it comes from another country or from an ancient mythology.

We are rarely able to choose our own names, but authors can choose names for their characters that have associations and resonances which illuminate personality. I say ‘authors can choose’ but sometimes, in my experience at least, it’s the characters who often choose their own names. In Four American Tales, Sweet Pea announced her name to me even before I began to write Wichega, while Uncle Mort is a play on words, as he dies in the first sentence of the story and, of course, ‘mort’ means death in French.

When I can, I like to use names I love in real life. Tony and Loulou are recurring names because they’re my beloved greyhounds. So they often appear – if you read my novel Farewell Olympus, you’ll find them there. I’ve always liked the name Eugene, and it’s a name that Dickens used in Our Mutual Friend, so I was delighted when Eugene popped up in Farewell Olympus. It’s just the way my mind works. Other writers have different minds!

How do you choose a title for your books?

Strangely, I often commence with a title idea and work from there. In the case of Noah’s Arc, for example, once the central character became Noah and he had a story to tell, the title was obvious. Take the Late Train was harder. It started off as Painted Stations, which is a phrase from Stevenson’s poem From a Railway Carriage, which describes painted stations as they whistle by. As the novel developed, however, the title didn’t feel right. I had to come up with something that encompassed two important strands of the story: trains and jazz. Eventually, Take the Late Train occurred to me, because it sounds like Duke Ellington’s Take the A Train. The Long Voyage Home is named after a John Ford film of the same name that I greatly admire. Farewell Olympus was a bewildering experience in many ways. Up until then I had always started with a title, or at least had the title very early on, and I spun the story out from there. That didn’t happen this time and it made me extremely nervous: what was the story about and where would it end if I didn’t know the title and what kind of book I was writing? So, for the many months it took to write, I worried and worried. I could think of lots of titles that were appropriate, but none of them really worked as titles or made me feel ‘that’s the one!’ Then, when I came to the last page of writing, the title revealed itself. It was if it had been hiding all that time. I knew at once it was perfect. Finally, I could relax!

Do you think there is any elitism attached to the different genres of books, both in the fiction and non-fiction worlds?

It’s pretty clear that there is, although nowhere near as much as there once was. There’s been a revolution over the past twenty or thirty years in particular, as scholars and academics have taken genres of all kinds (not just literature) extremely seriously. And not only genre – popular culture in general. So genre writers no longer have to feel apologetic about what they do, and that’s a good thing. Good writing is good writing no matter what the genre; a ‘literary’ novel can be a meandering mess and dull as ditchwater, while a crime novel can be beautiful and effortless and profound. I think it’s only a diminishing clique of people who are terribly snobbish about all things popular. Such people have always been there, ever since the beginning of the modern publishing industry. Women, especially, were regarded as second-class writers in the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth simply because of their sex. Thankfully, that is rarely the case today.

Elitism these days is more about the divide between writers who are published by major publishers and who have literary agents, and writers who are independently published. But that, too, is changing rapidly, as many independent writers (fiction and non-fiction) are seen to succeed financially and artistically. Those who look down on them don’t really understand what is going on.

What is the single biggest challenge you face when writing your books?

Plot! It always is. I get characters and situations and dialogue quite easily, but plot is hell. It’s hell because it’s hard work and also because, frankly, I am not interested in it. It’s rather like loving somebody, but then being forced to take a course in biology to understand all about their supporting structure of bones and muscles and what have you. That structure is absolutely necessary of course, but knowing it in microscopic detail is not usually essential to one’s love. I think of myself as writing literary fiction, which is more interested in the why of people and not the what of plot. That’s the big difference – when there is one – between genre fiction and literary fiction. Great writers of literary or genre fiction blur the boundaries between the two, which is always interesting.

Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?

Be yourself. Learn from everyone but don’t be dictated to. There are plenty of ‘experts’ who will tell you to do this or that, that it’s essential you write their way, that you must focus on x, y or z. Pay no attention. Be true to your vision. Follow where it leads. Only then will you come up with something worthwhile.

Are you jealous of other writers?

No. That’s not to say I don’t envy other writers’ talents and what they have achieved. I wish I had their abilities. I am also pleased for them and grateful. It sometimes annoys me when everything falls into someone’s lap simply because of who they are – a television celebrity I usually have never heard of can get a publishing deal just like that. But authors collaborate more and more, especially independently published authors, and I like that. We cooperate rather than compete. That is marvellous.

What was the most important thing you learned at school?

I knew no better at the time, but my senior school was pretty rough, so the most important thing I learned there was how to avoid violence. So I talked or joked my way out of nasty situations, which later stood me in good stead when I began to write. There was an awful lot of casual racism, homophobia and antisemitism at the school I am thinking of, so I was glad when I learned years later that it had been demolished!

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I suppose I do, but it’s rather slow and unremarkable. First, I have to live with an idea for a long time before I am confident that I can write about it. I tend to come up with a lot of half-baked ideas, so I am extremely wary. Once I know I have the idea I need, I start to write and see where it leads. Beginnings are important for setting the tone and point of view etc., so I spend an awful lot of time trying to get it exactly right. If it is right, the book grows from there.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I have never been able to outline or plan ahead or know exactly what to do beforehand. I admire authors who can do that but, for me, it is the death of creativity. As I write, incidents and scenes come to mind and I write them more or less in chronological order. When the time is right, the book reaches its end. On Farewell Olympus, I was aiming for around 50,000 words and ten chapters. I got the ten chapters but they came in at around 65,000 words. That was the extent of my planning.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I edit as I go along, and I constanty reread in order to correct and improve. It’s hard for me to progress if I think what I have already done is not as good as I can get it. I must have read Farewell Olympus a hundred times while writing it, which means my first draft is more or less my last draft by the time it’s finished. I don’t hold with those who say just keep writing even if it’s a load of rubbish. Something that really is a load of rubbish is likely to remain a load of rubbish, in my view. One often hears that one should never go back to read what one has written until one has finished, but I don’t hold with that either. Going back ad nauseam is part of my process.

Do you hire a professional editor?

Fortunately, I am a professional editor! And so is my wife. So that saves time and money. Otherwise, I would definitely hire a copyeditor – it is a grave error not to. I review books, and I can tell you that the ones full of errors don’t get reviewed.

Describe your desk

It’s a big wooden dining table that we bought in France . The table is far too big for our small house, but it would be such hard work getting it out the door that I think we’re stuck with it. I just have my Mac computer on it, plus a coaster for my mug of tea or coffee, and my spectacles case. My wife, Brigitte, works on the other side of the table, so we share our thoughts and emails from time to time. Her presence helps me concentrate. Strangely enough, if I am on my own I spend far too much time staring out the window.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

No, I have to have absolute quiet, which can be difficult living in a city.

Do you get your book covers professionally done or do you do them yourself?

The majority of amateur covers look awful. I have a friend named Dave Pettit who is a professional designer. He’s worked on all sorts of campaigns for major retailers and what have you. He now teaches design at a university. So he  designed the covers for two of my books  for free. I am lucky. The covers Dave came up with really zing. I designed the other covers myself, and I flatter myself they look great, but I do have some kind of eye for design. Off-the-shelf designs all look the same. Speaking as a reader and reviewer, copyediting and covers are important for creating the right impression. You can’t cut corners and hope no one will notice. They will. Besides, why give up the marketing potential of an excellent cover?

Do you prefer writing novels or short stories?

I love writing both. Sometimes I’ll think I have an idea for a novel but then it doesn’t have the legs and it comes out as a short story. After writing a few short stories on the trot, I start thinking it’s about time I wrote something longer, but then I might have to wait for an idea to develop for a novel – which is how I came to write Farewell Olympus. Short stories and novels make entirely different demands on a writer and a reader. I’m not one of those writers who think the short story is somehow a higher form of art because you simply can’t hide your errors in something that’s quite short. That may be true, but the novel requires such mental stamina and such care that it’s so much easier to make a mistake – often, a huge mistake – in a novel than it is in a short story. It’s like running a marathon as opposed to a sprint: neither is superior to the other, both are hard to do, both require dedication and both have their powerful attractions.

Much of your work could be described as historical literary fiction. Do you agree?

Yes, to an extent. A lot of my writing is set in the not-too-distant past. I don’t think I could ever set something before the twentieth century, for example. I feel at home in the present and in the twentieth century because my life straddles the two centuries and so much of what I know was learned in the twentieth, at a time when British society was much more interested and committed than it is now in reflecting upon itself and encouraging a sense of cultural and intellectual community.

Who are your readers?

Interestingly, they are overwhelmingly women – around seventy per cent, I’d say. They tend to be educated and with a social conscience and they read a great deal – the classics as well as contemporary literary fiction. They also like genre fiction, especially thrillers, mystery and crime, and also non-fiction – biographies and memoirs and interest-related books.

Greyhound Press

The Greyhound Press