Today I am very pleased to welcome Martin Gore to Chat About Books, ahead of his new novel’s release, ‘ The Road to Cromer Pier ’, in June.
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’m a 62 year old semi-retired accountant and director. I’ve live in East Yorkshire since 1992 with Sandra, my wife of thirty nine years. We have two grown up children, and four grandchildren. Originally born in Coventry we moved to Kent for eight years, then moved to Yorkshire.
In 2000 I wrote eight chapters of a novel called The Road to Cromer Pier, but wasn’t convinced that it worked, and rather put it to one side.
I became involved in Amdram, as an actor in pantomime originally, and reworded songs to go in the show. Eventually I wrote my first pantomime in 2010, and have now written eight. The pleasure of hearing an audience laugh at what I’d written is just fantastic.
The group began to do comedy plays, and I wrote The Road to Cromer Pier up as a play, but it was heavily laden with characters and too unwieldy to really perform. To improve my skills as a writer, I undertook the Hull Truck Theatre Playwright programme, and in the course of which I wrote Pen Pals as a play. Again it was quite heavy with characters and I parked it.
My career reached a crossroads in 2014, whilst I was Director of Corporate Services at Humberside Probation, which faced impending privatisation. I had the opportunity to take early retirement, at 57. I took the plunge, developing a second career as a non-executive director. I now have three such roles, with the NHS, a major Housing Association and UK Anti Doping.
I’m delighted with my decision as it allowed me the freedom to travel, and to indulge my passion for writing. As I already had two plays, which could act as the framework for novels, I set forth to work these up. Pen Pals was published in June 2016, and The Road to Cromer Pier will be out at the end of June 2019.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
Pen Pals was written from my direct experience in working at British Leyland car factories in Coventry in the seventies. I wrote it with the underlying purpose of explaining the origins of today’s austerity; class ridden management and militant unions at each others throats, which collectively caused the decimation of thousands of jobs in our country. But it is hopefully written as a human story of the lives and loves of the characters featured, so making it a believable and enjoyable work of fiction.
The Road to Cromer Pier is drawn from my childhood holidays in Cromer, and my fascination with musical theatre. Cromer is the nearest seaside town to Coventry, and my father was from Norfolk. Every summer we went there for a fortnight. Seven hours by bus! The book features the lives and loves of the cast and crew of the last full season end of the pier show in the world, and written with the full support of the Cromer Pier Theatre.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
As both books started their lives as plays I did draw on some cast members of my local Amdram group for my characters, although they probably wouldn’t notice it. Some of the characters in Pen Pals are drawn from my experience in British Leyland, particularly the union convenor.
The Welsh singer in the Road to Cromer Pier is the only one that I would say is directly associated with someone. She has a superb voice which fits the character really well. Maybe she will recognise herself when it’s published.
How do you pick your characters names?
VERY carefully. I try for slightly obscure surnames to avoid more obvious risks of mistaken identity. NEVER give father and son the same first name. I did it once with Bill Murgatroyd in Pen Pals, then realised that the reader would be confused, and changed the son’s name to James!
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
As I’ve written plays which I’ve converted to novels I’m probably very unusual!
Well I guess I find a topic which I know about and have a passion for as a starting point. It must be easier to write from personal experience. If I write a play I start with eight segments, one for each scene, eight to a play, and scribble what happens in each scene, with any ideas for sub plot, characters etc. No idea too daft at this time. When the frame is finished writing up the dialogue is pretty easy I find. Developing from a play to a novel rather continues that process a stage further I think. More characters, more expansion of the plot, fleshing out the bones so to speak. Given that a play is around fourteen thousand words and my books are over seventy thousand, that understates the length of the journey I suppose………
The Road to Cromer Pier however required a complete rewrite after I visited the theatre and saw the show once more. It is a quite outstanding show of West End standard and I just had to do it justice. That took me a year…..
I don’t write daily as I have no deadlines to work to other than those I impose myself, and I have my work commitments to manage. I’m writing to please myself, and as I’m an early riser I write quite sporadically but intensely. On a good day I’m so immersed in my writing that I suddenly find that a couple of hours have gone by, and I’ve almost been in another place. I write in silence, and have a writing shed in the garden, overlooking open fields. If I write on holiday I like to get up early and put myself in front of beautiful scenery. I finished one pantomime in an apartment with stunning views of Lake Como.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
I don’t actually read too much fiction, mainly biographies. I very much liked Arthur Hailey, because his subjects were so well researched and he really got under the skin of the particular industry that he was writing about.
I have read quite a few Nelson De Milles, Robert Goddard and Robert Ludlum too. I enjoyed Archer’s early stuff such as Kane and Abel, but tend to find that all of these writers become formulaic over time. If I’m on holiday I tend to write rather than read, a habit that I should change no doubt!
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would probably say Joanne Harris. Although she is a successful writer she takes time to help developing writers. If you ask her a question on twitter she will always give you a reply. I’ve had several useful tips from her, and admire her for her willingness to help.
I’d probably ask her more about promotion of the work, as I’m a total novice at book signings and interviews. I suspect most authors are more comfortable writing their books than selling them!
Were you a big reader as a child?
I liked Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and that sort of book, but never really read as much as my mother wanted me to. I tended to play outside with my brothers, but was rubbish at sport really. I was always pretty good at creative composition mind…..
When did you start to write?
My love of creative writing started at school, but much more in the line of writing plays. I remember telling my mother that I wanted to be a Playwright when I was around nine year’s old. My father loved musical theatre, so I guess that’s where my enjoyment of live performance comes from. My creative side lay dormant for around thirty years, as I developed a successful career as a Finance Director, and my family grew up. We moved from Coventry to Kent, and then to Yorkshire during that time, so there was no time.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I get frustrated by books which don’t have an ending as such, just set up the sequel! I will NEVER do that to readers of my books!
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Well I guess we’d all say Harry Potter…..
Let me cheat and have a play. Calendar Girls by Tim Firth. A wonderful true story which brings you to tears of sorrow, but joy of the human spirit. It’s what I try to do when I write…….
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
Six and a half. Could do better……
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I think I’d go for President Bartlett aka Martin Sheen of the West Wing, probably at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, which I’d love to visit as I love contemporary country music. I’m sure President Bartlett would have interesting views on our world as it is today, and Sheen is one of my favourite actors.
Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I sing with the Hull Hospitals NHS Choir, and we auditioned on Britain’s Got Talent at the Birmingham Hippodrome in front of Simon Cowell et al, getting four yesses. We didn’t make the semi finals but while I was on stage I had an idea.
As part of Hull City of Culture 2017, I founded a school’s project called Song for Hull, which resulted in a concert featuring the hospital choir, seven primary schools and an audience of nine hundred. The concert will repeat in 2020 with fourteen schools and an audience of eighteen hundred. I intend that it will endure and promote aspiration and self belief in our young people. Maybe the semi final didn’t matter after all!
What are you working on right now?
The Road to Cromer Pier has virtually completed an exhaustive proof reading process, and will be launched in late June, coinciding with the start of the 2019 Summertime Special Show in Cromer. I’m intending to undertake an intensive promotional campaign during the summer, so other projects are not the immediate priority.
I have refined the play version of The Road to Cromer Pier, which is now available to Amdram groups free of charge, so I’d love to see that getting performed. I’m also writing a pantomime version of Camelot in my spare time. I’ve been asked about writing a sequel to Pen Pals, but I’m not as yet convinced about that. I have another half written comedy play called All Inclusive in the works, and an idea for a novel called Last Hurrah, about a man retiring back to his childhood hometown.
Tell us about your last release?
I was delighted that Pen Pals has had such positive reviews, standing at a 4.5 rating on Amazon. I learned a massive amount in the process, particularly through the brilliant editing process by Alice Baynton.
As with my plays and pantomimes my pleasure is in the audience reaction. One reviewer of Pen Pals was adopted as a child, and said that I had captured the feelings of an adopted child towards a birth mother perfectly. That sort of comment really motivates me. aracersof thelives andlovess, which collectivelymr
Do you have a new release due?
I will be heading to Cromer for the opening gala night of the 2019 Summertime Special Show at the Pavilion Theatre Tfor the launch on 29th June. The Road to Cromer Pier is about the lives and loves of the cast and crew of the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show.
‘Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits. The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.’
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
I guess the truthful answer was that last time I spent most of it refreshing my Amazon author page and spreading the word on social media!
This time I plan to be in Cromer doing a number of book signings and talks with book groups, prior to the gala performance of the Summertime Special Show
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I’d be happy to take questions from book groups and arrange to meet them in Norfolk at the end of June after the launch, or in my home county of Yorkshire. Similarly I’d be happy to do signings in local book shops if proprietors would like to get in touch.
There is a play version of The Road to Cromer Pier, available free of charge to Amdram groups. Again feel free to contact me.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Martin 🙂
Brenda Arkwright has been the Managing
Director of Murgatroyd Pens for much of her
working life. She is popular, personable and
competent. But Brenda has secrets.
When Jean Murgatroyd passes away in a
nursing home in the northern industrial town
of her birth, old wounds are re-opened. Events
from Brenda’s past, inextricably intertwined
with the Murgatroyd family, are coming back
to haunt her. Simultaneously, Jean’s difficult,
estranged son James seeks to regain control of
the family business.
Jean leaves a beautiful monogrammed pen to
Brenda’s daughter, one of only two that were
ever made. The person in possession of the other
was a mystery to everybody but Brenda and
Jean, but that person may now hold the future
of Murgatroyds in their hands..
Local author, Martin Gore, launches novel in tribute to Cromer Pier theatre
‘The Road to Cromer Pier’ – A Tale of Lives, Loyalty & Luvvies.
Childhood seaside holidays create long memories. Fifty years later, author Martin Gore’s second novel, ‘The Road to Cromer Pier’, brings fond memories to life in a contemporary novel about the lives and loves of the Cromer Pier theatre company.
“I’ve always loved musical theatre, so the lights and sounds of the Pier Theatre drew me in. We travelled by bus from Coventry every summer. My father was from Norwich, so choosing Cromer as the nearest seaside destination was inevitable. When I was nine, I told my mother I wanted to be a writer. She told me I’d better get a proper job, so I did. Now fifty years later I am semi-retired and living out my childhood dream.’
Eight pantomimes and two plays later, Gore published his first successful novel, ‘Pen Pals’. His second, ‘The Road to Cromer Pier’, is out in June, with support from the Pier Theatre:
“They showed me around the theatre, answered lots of questions and set up an interview with a member of the cast. I have tried to capture this background information in the book.”
But it wasn’t easy to write a fictional story about an iconic piece of British Theatre.
“Writing a fiction novel about a real place and show is very difficult. I have huge respect for the performers who tread the boards, night after night, in the season. It must require huge mental & physical stamina, and I wanted to do that justice. Having seen the Summertime Special Show, what stands out is the sheer quality of the show. This is a West End theatre standard of a show, with a big budget, and that needed to come out in the story too.”
So what’s the story about?
“The lives and relationships of the cast and crew of the show. The show creates strong loyalties, tested against the deep recession of 2008. Old enmities surface and relationships are forged in a turbulent period from the start of rehearsals, to opening night.”
The Road to Cromer Pier will be launched on Friday 29th June, at the premiere of the 2019 Summertime Special Show, and available in paperback and ebook versions. Martin Gore’s website is www.martingore.co.uk and he is on Facebook, and Twitter @martingore