As ambitions go, one Halesowen man is ticking off his list of things to achieve at some pace – adding author to the mix.
Jonathan Hipkiss may indeed spend his days working on a Cradley industrial estate, but his passion for creativity knows no bounds.
He is an up-and-coming stand-up comedian, having supported Jack Whitehall at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena; starred alongside respected actor Toby Jones in BBC’s critically acclaimed drama Marvellous and co-written a live sketch show, performed at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Now aged 25, Jonathan has just released his first novel.
The former Windsor High School student – who went on to study professional acting at Birmingham Theatre School – enjoys running, writing, performing, and his greatest love – all things Star Wars.
It was therefore inevitable that his novel would be very much a science fiction affair.
Rise of the Geeks Following an Alien Invasion! is a lighthearted take on the sci-fi/adventure genre, poignantly examining the lost innocence of youth in a coming-of-age tale as four boys are forced to tackle three things they fear most—life, love, and loss.
“I became a Star Wars fan at the age of five when my cousin gave me the original VHS tapes for Episodes IV – VI, I was hooked from then on and a few weeks later on a caravan holiday with my family I was bought my first Star Wars toy – a 12 inch Han Solo – it still remains one of my most sentimental pieces.
“I have vivid memories of my mom saying it would be a fad and wouldn’t last. 20 years later, I am what Mark Hamill describers as a UPF – Ultra Passionate Fan!!!
“In 1999, I was the perfect age, 8, to see the TPM. My mom and dad took me to the picture house up Quinton, I think it was the Odeon back then, but can’t be too sure.
“Again, I can recall that day like it was yesterday. Running around the foyer with my lightsaber. I went crazy for the toys and truly began to live and breath Star Wars 24/7. Christmas lists and birthdays were filled with nothing but Star Wars.”
And what of the future of the saga?
“I’m excited for where Disney is taking the franchise but I personally believe that Kathy Kennedy is the secret weapon for the saga now and Lucas was wise to pass the torch onto her.
“I love the idea that the anthology series can be genre specific and take the movies to places that the main saga just wouldn’t have time for. Rogue One looks to be a sort of Saving Private Ryan in space with a much more grittier and edgier feel.
“Lucas was always great at collaborations, Indiana Jones proves that and the fact that a new generation of storytellers get to push these films forward is something that sends my nerd senses into overdrive.
“I can’t wait for VIII, as like most people, I’m wondering WWLS? – What Will Luke Say?
“I’m a huge Mark Hamill fan and am so pleased that he is back on the Hollywood star ladder, though for most fans, he never left.”
And Jonathan got to meet Mark Hamill at this summer’s Celebration Europe, in London.
“It was an amazing event and I was thrilled to meet many of the Star Wars stars – including Carrie and Mark.
“Any time I look at Carrie or Mark photos I fill – and I never stop looking at them!
“Whilst queuing to speak to Mark, one of the staff told me – rather loudly – not to shake Mark’s hand.
“I think he must have overheard her because he gave me the biggest of bear hugs.
“Basically, I believe that was Mark’s way of telling her who’s boss. It is one of the happiest memories in my life. That’s how you show love for your fans ay?”
But like many fans of the saga, Jonathan has always had a fondness for Harrison Ford and his portrayal of Han Solo.
“My book could, in many ways, be described as a tribute to Harrison Ford.
“That is something that is based on fact. All us geeks dream of meeting him, but perhaps that’s revealing a little too much!”
Indeed, a quest to meet Harrison is very much a strand of the plot in Rise of the Geeks Following an Alien Invasion.
“While there are no direct comparisons to anyone I know in the book, in some way, the main four characters, the geeks/boys, are each a little part of me and loosely based on my experiences as a geek and my inept way with women,” said Jonathan.
“The adventure aspect of the story came from my love of movies and my desire to escape the real world.
“I’d rather be watching Star Wars than the news, though doing stand-up means you have to keep up to date with the world.”
Jonathan’s inspirations for comedy are Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Tim Allen, but he says: “You have to write what you know, so much like the book, my stand up act mostly consists of my take as a geek and creating characters through that. “
The book focuses on a group of friends – Chilvers, Matt, Tom, and Mark are about to have their mundane existences thrown into chaos when four tiny aliens crash-land into their lives.
The would-be heroes are tasked to save the world – or bring it crashing down – testing their friendship and spirits at the same time.
“As the back of the book says, I hope it brings a smile to the readers face, it truly means the world to me to see people smiling,” said Jonathan. “If I can do that in any way, then I’m satisfied.”
Back in October, while on holiday in Portugal, Jonathan ended up performing an impromptu comedy gig at his hotel.
“I was so jolted by the experience that it made me realise how much I miss performing and making people laugh,” he said.
“After I’ve finished promoting the book, myself and my comedy partner, Sam, will take to writing a new hour long show over Christmas which we plan to take on the road and return to next year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Rise of the Geeks Following an Alien Invasion! is out on Amazon Worldwide or people can contact the author personally for a copy at a discounted price via firstname.lastname@example.org