Meet the team
JOHN BLAKE, PUBLISHER
After spending years raising hell on Fleet Street – and creating The Sun’s legendary Bizarre column in the process - John decided that commercial non-fiction was the next step. Since setting up the company in 1991 he’s had a knack for sniffing out bestsellers. Whether it’s Being Jordan, books like Pretty Boy and Hard Bastards, or the legendary Bronson books, the boss has seen it all. In his spare time he likes to tell absurdly rock’n’roll stories, travel to far-flung destinations and attempt to dive to the bottom of the sea.
ROSIE VIRGO, MANAGING DIRECTOR
You’d think, after all these years, Rosie would’ve had enough of working with John. After years of knowing one another on Fleet Street she came to join him at the company a few months after it was formed in 1991 and has been here ever since. Rosie is best known for charming people around the globe with our foreign rights deals and being better dressed than the rest of the team put together.
MARTIN PALMER, NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Martin is one of the part-timers on our roster. With an impressive CV – including HarperCollins, The History Press and Constable & Robinson – and a ridiculous amount of experience behind him, he’s been drafted in to keep the rest of the office in order. Armed with charts, meeting schedules, and a contacts list as long as your arm, Martin’s keeping us on our toes. When he’s not rising at the crack of dawn to get to work, Martin likes to spend time with his family, his two dogs, and rage silently at the football on TV.
STUART FINGLASS, HEAD OF UK SALES AND DIGITAL
Stuart is the king of all things sales and digital (and metadata, whatever the heck that is!) He spends most of his time running around the country meeting with buyers from all kinds of stores, trying to make every single title the bestseller it deserves to be. After ten years at Virgin Books in a variety of roles and a six month stint compiling metadata at BBC Worldwide, he’s now part of the furniture at John Blake Books. His main loves in life include Liverpool FC, his wife and two kids, music and his iPad (possibly in that order).
TOBY BUCHAN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Toby Buchan is our resident editorial genius. If you need to know the spelling, definition and pronunciation of a word no one’s used since 1724, he probably knows it. After a ridiculously long and successful career – including a stint at Michael O’Mara Books – he’s now settled with us. Toby is notorious for his honesty, scathing editorial criticism and his hatred of the exclamation mark. When the weather is right you’ll find him in his element: fishing rod in hand and trout hanging from the end of it.
JAMES HODGKINSON, EDITOR
In his lifetime, James will probably send more emails than the rest of us will eat hot dinners. Whether he’s keeping the rest of the office in line, tracking our submissions, or throwing ideas for books into the mix, you can guarantee that James is always busy. Much of his spare time is spent in gyms and courts playing various sports, for which his friends will confirm he wears unnecessarily short shorts. Otherwise, you’ll find him playing guitar loudly (but just a bit brilliantly).
SARAH FORTUNE, JUNIOR EDITOR
Sarah manages the progress of our books (and our unruly team), checking that everything is running on time with a cup of tea permanently in her hand. She’s also the only member of the JB crew with a Blue Peter badge, so she can stay. Sarah spent four years at Kings, had a year abroad in Provence (which she’s still not over), and internships at Allison and Busby, HarperCollins and Penguin, before finding herself at John Blake Publishing in April 2015. In her spare time, Sarah throws herself into living the London life, but equally takes days off to recover with Netflix.
EMMA STOKES, PRESS OFFICER
After completing an internship at the company, John and co decided to throw Emma in at the deep end and make her the new press officer. She's still not sure why. She's interned at Biteback and Touchline, and spent three years getting a degree in film studies in Hull, but assures us that it's nicer there than you think. When she's not bothering journalists, she spends her time watching Netflix, reading, spending money she doesn't have and generally not making the most of living in London.
MOIRA ASHCROFT, PRODUCTION MANAGER
Paper types, reprints and picture sections may make up some people’s nightmares, but they inhabit Moira’s daily life. From scheduling our editors to scouring the globe for the most exciting people to work with, Moira sees the creation of a book from start to finish (and often cries with relief when finished copies turn up at the office). Moira is a brain to be reckoned with and leaves the rest of the office feeling ashamed whenever general knowledge is tested. In her spare time Moira attends all things cultural – from operas to art galleries – and bakes mean treats for the whole office.
JOANNA KENNEDY, FINANCE DIRECTOR
Joanna is our resident whizz with money, contracts and general running of the company. Having been at John Blake since pretty much the beginning, Joanna’s seen more offices, staff changes, and hare-brained ideas than she’d care to mention. In her spare time she puts the entire office to shame with the sheer amount of exercise she does (spin and ballet being two favourites) although she’s happiest curled up at the cinema, travelling or daydreaming about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Er, onto the next one…
ALEKSANDRA BIL, SENIOR ACCOUNTS EXECUTIVE
‘Spreadsheets? What spreadsheets? I laugh in the face of spreadsheets…’ or something along those lines is probably the best character description here. Don’t be fooled by the meanness of the words, though – knitting, apple strudels, travelling and Tyrion from Game of Thrones (yes, really) are the way to Aleksandra’s heart. Despite helping run the finance office, Aleksandra insists she’d be happiest watching films all day or riding a Harley Davidson through Italy. We’re with you there, girl.