John-Paul Flintoff




Your face here

This is Queen Anne. Well, it's actually Jude Claybourne. And for the right price, it could be you.

Jude is one of several improvisers who helped me to create my novel about Queen Anne. Not just with the characterisation and the storyline but with the illustrations too.

I asked Jude, and a few other impro friends, if they might be willing to lend their faces, as modern “masks” for the real historical figures in the book. I couldn't have asked for a more generous response.

I asked Will Steele to take a picture on his phone that I could use for one of the great writers in my book, Jonathan Swift. My request was very specific, and totally unreasonable (see below).

Hermione Jones took several self-portraits for me to use as Mary, one of the few entirely fictional characters. Mary is a young lady in waiting to Queen Anne. She sees and hears more than the plotters around her suspect. I asked Hermione to hint at that knowledge with a sparkle in her eye. Almost at once, Will and Hermione sent these.

Will Steele (left) and Hermione Jones

This was what I asked Will: “Could you take a pic of yourself with the camera looking down at you slightly? Expression is bursting with pride inside but trying to hide it and slightly afraid that you might lose everything any minute.” I gave similarly impossible requests to the others pictured below.

I then set about distorting the modern portraits, posterising them, making them black and white, framing them, then placing them over a variety of contemporary portraits. Like this:

Will and Hermione, above, in disguise as Jonathan Swift and Lady Mary

Pernille Sorensen (above left, as Lady Masham) and Antony Quinn (Viscount Bolingbroke)

Ouardane Jouannot (above left, as James Stuart, The Pretender) and Daniel Dresner (Daniel Defoe)

Your face here

Now, having launched the crowdfunding for my novel's publication, I'm offering would-be supporters the chance to appear in the book as a mask.

But I will only replace the pictures of my generous improviser friends if their original portraits (shown here) can be included, with something like the text here, as part of the “How this book was created” pages at the back of the book.

*So here's your chance! How would you like to appear in my novel – and in every edition ever published? [update: I successfully raised the funds, and the book is published. See THIS PAGE

I'm looking for people willing to pull the right expression, and am not especially worried about getting the right age, gender or ethnicity. (At one point, when improvising scenes for this book, I played the wife of James II, who was played by a woman. It went very well.)