In 2003 I swapped a career in the British Civil Service in Manchester for life in the middle of a banana plantation in the north of Tenerife where my wife, Andy, and I hunkered down to some serious short story writing (the stories themselves weren’t necessarily serious).
Over the course of nearly a year our combined earnings amounted to a whopping €300 – the proceeds of writing competitions and a couple of published stories.
Then fate, and a bizarre case of mistaken identity intervened.
Shortly after arriving on the Canary Island I was mistaken for the Honorary Irish Ambassador for Tenerife (a surreal little story soon to be recounted in a book by Andy) which, after a few twists and turns, led to a writing commission for a Tenerife-based magazine.
Want to know a secret?
I didn’t enjoy that first commission at all. After nearly twelve months of letting my imagination fly, writing 250 words about diving sites in the seas around Tenerife felt like being shackled. What I did like though was the intoxicating surge of excitement I experienced when I saw those words in print in a glossy mag.
And that was the start of that.
Since then I’ve had travel articles published in newspapers, magazines, and on travel websites; co-authored travel guidebooks and produced hiking guides which have been used by travellers from over thirty countries around the world; designed and launched three successful travel websites; co-managed the social media account and blog for an online travel firm, commissioning other writers; written for hotels, tourist boards, and specialist travel firms; penned travel blogs for a UK-based PR agency; and, since 2011, worked as a Slow Travel specialist helping create and write about Slow Travel holidays in off the beaten track parts of Europe. I also supply the photographs to accompany travel articles.
And for a short period I was Jack Sparkle – writing travel, movie, and opinion pieces for an online friendship site.
The writing gigs have been diverse, that’s for sure.
Publishing the travelogue Camel Spit & Cork Trees: A Year of Slow Travel Through Portugal proved the catalyst for another shift of writing gear. The book was more personal than anything I’d written previously. When it went public it felt like emerging from behind a mask, and was both thrilling and scary. It reminded me that, to date, the piece of writing which has given me the greatest satisfaction over the years is a short story which has never been published. The story was written in broad Scots and was called If only Tarzan Wis In. It was rejected in the most lovely fashion by Chapman, who wrote they enjoyed it immensely and would have published it had their next edition not been a centenary special. The desire to pour fuel on those feelings prompted me to launch this website.
So, during the hours of daylight I’m Jack Montgomery, travel writer & photographer. However, after dark I don a cloak and become more of a Jack Sparkle, unshackling my imagination and allowing it to run wherever the hell it wants to go.