Austin-based writer and 1999 U. Texas graduate Jeff Metzger’s first published book, “The Rogue’s Handbook: A Concise Guide to Conduct for the Aspiring Gentleman Rogue,” details how male readers can become better gentleman rogues.
He dissects historical examples of “g-rogue,” a term a friend coined, from Jack Sparrow of “Pirates of the Caribbean” to Lord Byron, noting their mix of stealth and suaveness. Metzger could very well have included himself, considering how he has smoothly continued to include writing in his life.
Although he received a marketing degree from the McCombs School of Business, writing has always interested him, and eventually he decided to minor in English. After taking a job in phone sales at a major corporation after college, he found himself in a warped “Office Space” nightmare and decided to pursue a career with a small business.
However, as he strode into the interview room of an Austin-area spa with absolutely no understanding of the mechanics of spa treatment, his knowledge of literature and writing came in handy.
“I noticed my interviewer had a British accent,” Metzger said. “I asked her where she was from. She said the U.K., and I asked what part. She answers, ‘Swansea,’ and I go, ‘Where Dylan Thomas is from?’ And she gets all excited, and I begin to recite Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.’ I was then offered the position, even though I was grossly unqualified.”
Now he works with a student housing real estate company but regularly keeps a block of time on Saturdays just to write whatever inspires him. Three years ago, that inspiration came as he was flipping through a book at a friend’s house on how to be a gentleman.
He felt that the book was too serious and decided to write his own handbook. Instead of the serious tone, he would inject some playfulness, and instead of simply the gentleman, he would describe the gentleman rogue, an archetype made distinctive in the intrigue he possesses and that had interested him for years in books and movies.
Although he has written two manuscripts before, “The Rogue’s Handbook” is his first to be published by a major publishing house, Sourcebooks. It has been a long process of editing, revising and publicizing. The experience also showed him how much growth he has made as a writer since his time as a UT student.
When Sourcebooks returned his manuscript to him with formatting revisions, Metzger was more than willing to make the changes; a stark contrast from his 19-year-old self. During his sophomore year at UT, he and a friend sent an article to then-fledgling Maxim magazine. Maxim wanted to publish it but with some slight changes.
“To me, they wanted to dumb it down and distill it down to a textbox or a text,” Metzger said. “Back then, my artistic integrity could not be compromised. I was just arrogant. I thought they would back down. Then they said they wouldn’t publish it. Years later, I’m older and wiser, and Sourcebooks said they wanted to make formatting changes, which I found to be constructive and I made. I had this thought bubble of myself at 19 saying, ‘Absolutely not! I will not change a word.’”
Now, after that exhausting three-year process, “The Rogue’s Handbook” has finally been released. Already, Metzger is working on a manuscript of a novel that he first started as a student that includes Cuba, prostitution and culture shock. It is an ambitious work, but given the “g-rogue”-like skill Metzger has shown in continuing his writing career, he should have no problem finishing it.