Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I am very happy to welcome Martin Gore, author of ‘The Road from Cromer Pier’ here today and thank him for kindly answering my questions and allowing me to share his responses with you. Read on to find out more about his inspiration, his writing and his books . . .
Where did you get the inspiration for the book/series?
I was born in Coventry, and my father was from Norwich, so we went to Cromer each summer. We didn’t have a car, so it was seven hours on a coach for me and my three brothers. The stories from those days and my childhood experiences are really the bedrock of the first book. I liked the idea of people experiencing and dealing with the highs and lows of life, and my love of Amdram meant that writing about the only full season end of the pier show left in the world was intriguing. The Cromer Pier Theatre helped me a great deal in detailing how the show went together, and arranging an interview with a member of the cast. It helped me to depict the lives of the cast and crew as accurately as possible.
I never intended there to be a sequel, but the response to the book, both on Amazon and on Facebook, was really amazing, and when lockdown hit, I realised that suddenly the theatres were closed, and those performers could no longer do the job they loved. I knew that my characters had unfinished business, so I asked myself how their lives would have changed in the ten years that has elapsed since the first book.
The resulting sequel has a number of the previous characters, and some previously peripheral characters come more towards centre stage. There are also some new ones notably Tom Stanley, a company turnaround expert made redundant from his own firm, and facing unintended retirement, yet still with a burning desire to succeed and make a difference.
What is your writing process?
My first two novels were originally written as plays, as I have a strong interest in Amdram and have had eight pantomimes performed. This means that I adopted a ‘Planster’ style approach to the novels. When I semi-retired I built a writing shed in the garden which looks out on open fields, so when I really want to get my head down and write I go there.
For my latest, The Road from Cromer Pier I adopted a ‘pantster’ approach, and let the story run where it would, researching and knocking down obstacles to the plot as I did so. It worked well as it was a sequel, so many of the characters were known to me, and I simply needed to move their lives on ten years, and deal with unfinished business from the first book.
I’m not sure that I could use a ‘pantster’ approach for a new novel. I think at heart I’m a ‘planster’ by instinct. For pantomimes for example I tend to start with two sheets of paper, one for each act, and divide each sheet into four squares, one for each scene. I then overlay the key points of the plot, and the flesh out the comedic moments in each scene. Once I have this framework complete writing it up as a script is relatively straightforward.
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
Has to be a computer. As a child my writing was so bad my teachers despaired, and at fourteen I was writing everything in capital letters. My wife is a retired special needs teacher and she says she still can’t read it now!
The computer also has great editing and spell check capability, and although my spelling is pretty good my grammar is pretty lousy. Fortunately, I’ve got brilliant editors and a wife who has a great eye for detail!
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
I really love Cyril Brown, who appears in both books. He is old and has experienced the highs and lows of life, reads people brilliantly, and is always there for people in their hour of need. He’s very talented and funny too. The world would be a better place with more Cyril Browns.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
I guess Tom Stanley is pretty autobiographical, as I worked in some very troubled organisations in my business career, and Tom’s determination to seek solutions to intractable problems mirrors my approach. I only semi-retired at 57 because of the privatisation of probation, and I’ve worked as a Non-Executive Director ever since. I love my work, alongside my creative writing, and like Tom I’m still looking to make a difference.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
Tricky things names. I once had to change a character’s name from Jim as I’d already got a Jim elsewhere, and I have quite a lot of characters in my books, so I need to be very careful. A schoolboy error you learn from. Find and Replace on Word comes in very handy!
The Murgatroyd name in Pen Pals came out of the need for a strong northern name, and I spotted the name on a fish and chip shop in Leeds. The bank manager Peter Hodson in the Pier books comes from the first bed and breakfast we stayed in, Hodsons in East Runton. It was the village filling station too, but it closed long ago.
For the main baddie name in The Road to Cromer Pier I was so concerned that I might inadvertently pick a name that was the same as a local resident that I went for quite an obscure name to hedge my bets. If there is a Lionel Pemrose out there, I apologise!
Thank you, once more, to Martin Gore for answering my questions! Read on to find out more about him and his latest book . . . .
It’s ten years on from The Road to Cromer Pier, and Summertime Special Show Director Karen Wells has two potential headliners, but both have issues. Dare she take the risk? And Karen herself is at a crossroads. Will her mother Janet ever retire and allow her to run the pier theatre?
Meanwhile Janet’s nemesis, businessman Lionel Pemrose still has designs on the pier theatre, but he is facing growing financial problems. Bank manager Peter Hodson is haunted by a past indiscretion, and calls in recently widowed turnaround expert Tom Stanley. Can he keep the indiscretion a secret?
Tom is bereaved and has recently been made redundant from his own firm. He is too young to retire, and after years of long hours, suddenly finds himself unemployed. He pours his energies into the assignment, which could be his last hurrah.
Old enmities, loyalties and past mistakes surface as the future of the pier theatre is once again under threat, and those involved must deal with unresolved issues in their lives.
I started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. I thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. My first career ended in 2015, when I semi retired as Director of Corporate services at Humberside Probation. My second career, as a Non Executive Director, is great as it has allowed me free time to travel and indulge my passion for writing, both in novels and for theatre.
The opportunity to rekindle my interest in writing came in 2009, when I wrote my first pantomime, Cinderella, for my home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. I have now written eight. I love theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. My first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, is now available on: https://www.silverbirchingtonplays.com/product-page/he-s-behind-you-by-martin-gore
Pen Pals was my first novel, and a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, is now available in all three formats. It was. officially launched on Cromer Pier itself, coinciding with the new season of the Summertime Special Show.
I’m active on twitter @authorgore and on facebook martin gore author. My website is http://www.martingore.co.uk.
I’m an old fashioned writer I guess. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to believe in my characters, and feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending.