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About John Simmons
A distinguished career as a brand consultant has turned into a parallel life as a novelist in recent years.
John was a director of Interbrand where he created the brand discipline of tone of voice, working internationally with some of the world’s most famous companies. He became a freelance writer while establishing two organisations for writers – 26 and Dark Angels. For Dark Angels, named after John’s book on writing creatively for business, he continues to run writing workshops that have become legendary. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Falmouth for ‘outstanding contribution to the creative sector’.
John’s first novel Leaves was originally published by Urbane in 2015, having been in his head since university days. This quickly led to Spanish Crossings, with the Spanish Civil War and a family story as background. His third novel The Good Messenger is set on Armistice Day 1918 and on either side of the first world war. He is currently finishing a novel Painting Paris set in the artist community in Montmartre in the early years of the 20th century.
Above all John believes in the power of storytelling.
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After Lorna, a legal secretary, meets and falls in love with Harry, a member of the International Brigade, he is tragically killed in the fighting in Spain—and Lorna fears she might have lost her best chance of happiness. To fill the void in her life, she focuses on helping the child refugees of the conflict, newly arrived in England on a boat from Bilbao.
As Lorna discovers a connection to one boy, Pepe, their lives become increasingly intertwined in the postwar rebuilding of London after the bombing raids of World War II. But Pepe remains deeply pulled towards the homeland and family that have been placed beyond his reach—and their relationship will be tested by the tragic history they share . . .
From the author of The Good Messenger, Spanish Crossings is an epic tale of love, politics, the human connection that crosses all borders, and the yearning but elusive possibility of redemption.
Ophelia Street, 1970. A street like any other, a community that lives and breathes together as people struggle with their commitments and pursue their dreams. It is a world we recognise, a world where class and gender divide, where set roles are acknowledged. But what happens when individuals step outside those roles?
An observer amid Ophelia Street watches, writes, imagines, remembers, charting the lives and loves of his neighbours over the course of four seasons, revealing the flimsily disguised underbelly of urban life in all its challenging glory. As the leaves turn from vibrant green to vivid gold, so lives turn and change too, laying bare the truth of the community. Perhaps, ultimately, we all exist on Ophelia Street.
This book tells the story of Innocent’s rise and examines what has made it a brand that people observe, love and (increasingly) imitate. Through privileged access to the founders and others closely involved in the company, John Simmons will explore the road travelled by the Innocent cow vans, taking in the twists and turns, ups and downs along the way. Not only does Innocent make fantastic smoothie drinks, but it is a brand now known for its love of storytelling, humour and an honest approach to business.
1912. A young boy, Tom Shepherd, is invited to stay at Hardinge Hall. Mr and Mrs Hardinge are trying to arrange the marriage of their son Teddy to Iris, the daughter of a local businessman. Tom becomes the innocent messenger who delivers the secret arrangements.
Armistice Day 1918. The First World War has changed everything, especially the closeted world that Iris, Teddy, and Tom existed in. Will things ever be the same again?
1927. Tom is now a journalist investigating the discovery of a baby’s bones in the woods around Hardinge Hall—and the past and present move towards a resolution that could bring everything crashing down . . .
From the author of Spanish Crossings, The Good Messenger is an epic tale of love, loyalty, and deception spanning two tumultuous decades.
Imagine you're in a museum. You might spot a gargantuan four-poster bed that was a 16th century pub tourist attraction or a threadbare sackcloth robe worn in church by a 17th century adulteress. Yet despite their rarity, we often fail to engage with these extraordinary objects. We simply nod and move on. But it doesn't have to be that way. Through its 26 Treasures project, writers' collective 26 is exploring how to create emotional connections between objects and individuals.
In 2010, London's Victoria & Albert museum chose 26 objects from its British Galleries and randomly assigned them to 26 writers. Each person wrote exactly 62 words – 26 in reflection – in response to the object.
The results were beautiful, surprising, lyrical, sometimes comical. Andrew Motion wrote about a bust of Homer, a 17th century Chinese porcelain figure reminded a writer of a pub landlord in Inverness, while the wedding suit of James 11 inspired 62 words about 'a suit as full of scratches as a rose-garden'.
In 2011 they took the idea to the National Library of Wales, the Ulster Museum and the National Museum of Scotland, where writers were let loose on objects as disparate as a mediaeval illuminated book, a beggar's badge and a 16th century Scottish guillotine. It seems that all writers and readers treasure connections with the past through objects – personal ones and those displayed in museums. There are more than a hundred writers involved in this collection, including many of the best-known literary authors in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The result is an exquisite illustrated book, where the 104 objects and their accompanying sestudes appear side-by-side.