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Behind The Scenes: What To Expect In The Jackson Haines Book

Photograph of Jackson Haines, The Father of Figure Skating
Photo courtesy KHM-Museumsverband, Theatermuseum Vienna. Used with permission.

Self-publishing is a one-pony show and writing a manuscript is just the tip of the iceberg. You have to edit, design a cover and back matter and work on the layout and formatting. You have to find ARC readers and do everything you can to get those all-important reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. When the book comes out, you have to deal with promotions, marketing, pricing, pitching your book to libraries and advertising through interviews, ads and social media. 

After releasing my first three books, I wasn't sure if I really wanted to go through it all again - but once I started the process of putting together this biography of Jackson Haines, I couldn't stop. In the end, of all of the projects I have worked on - I really think I am proudest of this one.

I have a more or less finished, edited manuscript that I am continuing to tweak here and there and I wanted to give you all an idea as to what the book is going to look like. Following an Introduction, there is a chapter covering the year of his birth to 1863. Then, there are twelve chapters - each covering a year. The content serves almost like a diary of his travels through Europe but there are also many fascinating behind the scenes stories of his adventures. One of my favourite stories is about the time he rode a velocipede in Sweden.

Illustration of a man riding a velocipede
Illustration of a man riding a velocipede, 1868. Photo courtesy National Archives.

A chapter on Jackson's legacy follows. It takes a deep dive into Jackson's personal life and rumours surrounding his time in Gamlakarleby (Kokkola) Finland and talks about his family members, grave and the skaters he inspired. I interviewed an actor that played him in a play in Finland and the 101 year-old great, great granddaughter of Jackson's uncle for this section. You might be quite surprised to know there's even a story that reads like something out of a Stephen King novel!

There is also a meticulously researched section on Jackson's family genealogy and a chapter on figure skating competitions. The book ends, of course, with acknowledgments to dozens of people who have helped along the way and detailed information on the provenance of the photographs in the book. There are over two dozen in all - several of which have never seen the light of day before. 

One of the things I really tried to avoid in this book was waxing poetically about Jackson's role as a figure skating pioneer. I really want to let the material speak for itself.

Jackson Haines' story is nuanced and quite different than the narrative that has been passed down for decades... and rather than give the people what they want, this book is going to give them everything and let them come up with their own opinions.

Through the process of researching and writing this book, I really feel like I got to know someone who passed away over a hundred years ago - and I can't wait for you to have the same experience this fall.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":