Jack Jewers is a filmmaker and writer who lives in Farnham. He is passionate about telling stories in all media including film, TV and digital. His debut novel, The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys was published in 2022 and a sequel is due out next year. 

In 2021, Farnham Town Council started to explore the idea of holding a literary festival. Councillor Kika Mirylees approached Jack and his wife, the author Ava Glass to see if they would like to help shape the festival. They both agreed and have been involved ever since. 

In this exclusive interview, Jack shares an insight into his work and why he continues to support Farnham Literary Festival. 

Did you always want to be a filmmaker and writer?

Yes, it’s not often that people can say that, but I did. I made my first film when I was six. I did sort of direct it too although my Mum held the camera! 

I’ve always made films. Writing came to me later as I didn’t quite have the confidence and it took me much longer to get good at it. 

How did it feel to have your first book named as ‘Historical fiction book of the year’ by The Times?

It was amazing and was completely unexpected and humbling. It was a book I wrote largely for myself and while I worked hard to make it the sort of book people will want to read; you just don’t know how people will react. 

The sequel comes out next year and is called The Winter Queen. It features Samuel Pepys investigating murder and conspiracy in the world of Restoration Theatre.

How do you decide which medium to use to tell your story?

I’m not sure there’s really a set method to it. What I tend to do is immerse myself in the subject about which I want to tell a story. I often use music so, I’ll find myself a playlist, take the dog for a walk and while I’m listening to the music I’ll be thinking through my ideas and the answer to whether the story is to be told through film or literature will emerge. 

The choice of medium is about finding a different language, a different palate to pave my words and that’s very exciting.

Being married to an author, what’s it like in your house when you are both working?

It depends what stage we’re at with a book or film. If it is deadline time, we don’t see much of each other and just convene for dog walks. To a fly on the wall, it would all look very ordinary. 

We are each other’s first readers and will often share ideas, test them out and exchange first drafts. There’s a lot of creative exchange and on a practical level, there is a lot of mutual support too. 

As well as being a creator, you are also a publisher. How did that come about?

Moonflower Books started as a lockdown project. We set it up to publish the books that we felt were falling through the cracks; the great books that didn’t have a home. Last year Moonflower Books was named ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Independent Publishing Awards which was amazing. 

One of the things I was interested in doing through Moonflower Books was giving something back to our local festival. We have achieved this by becoming one of the sponsors. 

Is Moonflower Books sponsoring a particular event(s)?

Yes! We are sponsoring two panel events. 

The first is on March 2 and is called ‘Writing Spies in the Shadow of Bond’. I’m on the panel with my wife Ava Glass, Greg Mosse and Tim Glister. We first did this panel event at the Harrogate Literary Festival, and it was really good fun. Everybody received a free martini, and it was one of the big hits of the festival.

We all agreed that it would be good to take the panel on the road so when ideas were being thrown around for Farnham 2024, it was an obvious choice. 

Everybody will receive a cocktail – shaken not stirred! – and is promised a really lively discussion. 

We’ve also helped put together a panel on gothic fiction. We are really pleased because we have names that we never expected to get. Taking part are Anna Mazolla, Louise Davidson, Essie Fox, William Hussey and Michelle Paver. The panel is on March 10 which is also Mother’s Day so it could make for an unconventional Mother’s Day present! 

What other events do you plan to attend? 

I’m going to be interviewing Hugh Bonneville and Bob Cryer so I’ll be there for those two events! 

I’m really looking forward to ‘The Labours of Hercule: Poirot, Podcasting and More’ on March 5. Adam Roche and Frankie Pellatt host the podcast and it is such good fun. They will be recording a live edition at the Festival. 

I’m also going to see Ching-He Huang who I’ve been a fan of for a long time. 

What do you think about the variety of events at this year’s Farnham Literary Festival?

The variety of the programme is great. It includes everybody from world famous actors to completely unknown but massively talented new novelists, and everything in between. 

There is something for all ages. There’s plenty for families, things focused on kids, and things for people who are not big readers. The beauty of a literary festival is that there is no entry requirement – just come and see some great fun conversations about spies, or gothic fiction, come and see Alison Weir at history day or walk around Farnham Castle while listening to Sophie Austin’s new ghost tour. 

There really is something for everyone and that is the mark of a truly great literary festival. 

What do you think about Farnham Literary Festival’s initiative to take authors into schools?

It’s absolutely great! You don’t get new authors if you don’t foster that love of reading. That’s not to say you can’t become an author or discover books if you were not a bookish child. For example, I’m dyslexic and struggled with the academic side. It took me a long time to give myself permission to write and be part of it. It’s very important to give kids the tools to discover writing and enjoy it. 

What is your advice to somebody who has never been to a literary festival? 

I would say try and see as much of what you like as possible. Take a chance on a couple of things as it is really good to be surprised. 

Know that all the authors are there because they want to be so don’t be shy about talking to them. My final piece of advice is to be the first to ask a question at the Q&A session!  

Farnham Literary Festival takes place from March 1 to 10. For details about the programme and individual events (many of which are free) and how to book, visit www.farnhamliteraryfestival.co.uk