J. J. Ward was born in Middlesbrough in 1961. He attended the Avenue Primary School then a small private secondary school in Acklam which failed in 1999 and was completely razed to make way for residential flats. He met his wife at sixth form college on 2nd September 1977, and after three years' study, the first two of which were unsuccessful, he went on to graduate in Biblical Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
After graduation, he applied for a succession of jobs of all kinds, but failed to attract employers' interests. He applied to be a teacher, and succeeded. The end.
J. J. Ward has two grown-up children, both male, and a Kerry Blue Terrier called Arthur Perrins. He has never been a spy. If he could go back in time, and the chance to become a spy arose as a realistic possibility, he would decline it. Even for research purposes.
His main regret about the past is that the Avenue school became "open plan" in about 1969, with the result that he lost two or three years' education at a crucial age. On the plus side, he did learn to design monster cars that doubled as blocks of flats. And the teachers had no idea what he was doing. For long periods, they didn't even know he was at school. No, really.
J. J. Ward's approach to writing spy fiction is that there is no such thing as "known reality". What spies do is by nature secret, but a lot of the evidence suggests that they have fairly boring, mundane lives. What novel can really capture the absurdity of Britain's 2006 "spy stone", or Ryan Fogle, the "spy in a blond wig", captured in Moscow in 2013?
The really interesting thing about spies, he thinks, is that they do exist, and when we try to envisage them, we end up projecting our own hopes and fears onto them. This actually makes espionage fiction a very powerful tool for examining what used to be, in the 19th century, called "the state of the nation".