To kick off the new month and the new week I have author Martin Gore here to tell us about his journey to The Road To Cromer Pier.
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.
My Road to Cromer Pier
When I was about nine year’s old I came home from school having had a drama class, and told my mother that as I was good at English composition, and liked drama, I wanted to be a Playwright when I grew up. She told me, as kindly as she could, that I ought to work hard and get a proper job. She was right of course.
I never really pursued creative writing any further to be honest. I got an HNC, qualified as an accountant, and progressed from Office Junior to Director of Corporate Services. I worked absurd hours and was career driven. I got married, and had two children. We moved from our native Coventry to Kent, then in 1992 we moved to rural East Yorkshire, to a lovely village called Walkington.
I’m not sure where the time went really. Having endured a daily commute of ninety minutes by car each way for five years, I burned out, somewhat unsurprisingly. I did a couple of temping jobs, and took the pressure off. For the first time in five years I did pantomime. Looking through the cast and crew I noted some personal tragedies which were not the fault of the people concerned, and came to realise that unlike them, my wounds were entirely self inflicted. I was wallowing in self pity having cost my family dear.
I decided to write a novel. I had been to Cromer many times a child. My father was born in Norwich, so as Cromer was the nearest seaside we went there by bus from Coventry every year. My basic idea was a bit biographical. A young council house kid fulfilling a dream to play professional football. Except I was rubbish at football. And to explore the highs and lows of life. I had no plan, I just typed ten chapters into a word processor. It was going nowhere so I stopped.
I became more involved in pantomime. I reworded songs with funny lyrics for the show, and loved it when people laughed. My father wrote great limericks and loved musical theatre, so I guess it’s in my DNA. Then the opportunity came to write a full pantomime. I started with Cinderella, blocking the story into eight boxes, two acts of four scenes each. Then I drew on my love of Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies, Blackadder and the like to add the humour. With this framework in place I found writing up the dialogue was fairly straightforward.
I absolutely love to hear people laugh at my work. Can there be a better feeling? I’ve now written eight pantomimes and three plays. I produced a play version of The Road to Cromer Pier in 2012, building it around the lives and loves of the cast and crew of the Cromer Summertime Special Show. The footballer is still there, and the theme of the highs and lows of life, but I can’t say much more as I’ll give the plot away.
I took early retirement in 2015, figuring that working 41 years was enough. I wrote Pen Pals, another of my plays, into my debut novel in June 2016. I now balance my love of writing with a successful second career as a Non Executive Director. We love to travel too, and as I write this we are heading for San Francisco. On our return we’re heading to Cromer for the launch of The Road to Cromer Pier novel. On the 28th June, on the pier itself. A book signing at the final pre-show before it goes live for the season.
I could have published it in 2017, but as the Cromer Pier Theatre is a real business I contacted them to seek permission. They were very supportive, answering questions as to how the show went together, giving me a behind the scenes tour and arranging an interview with a cast member between shows.
But that visit gave me a big problem; this is a West End standard show produced to the highest professional standards. It is the only full season end of the pier show left in the world for good reason. It is an iconic piece of theatre, and it works both artistically and financially.
It took a fundamental rewrite to do it justice, and now I think I have finally achieved it. For some the Road to Cromer Pier is the end of the journey; but for some it’s a new beginning. You must be the judge as to whether I’ve succeeded in telling their, and to an extent my, story.
I am a 61 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore my love of creative writing. In my career I held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. I was born in Coventry, a city then dominated by the car industry and high volume manufacturing. Jaguar, Triumph, Talbot, Rolls Royce, Courtaulds, Massey Ferguson were the major employers, to name but a few.
When I was nine year’s old I told my long suffering mother that as I liked English composition and drama I was going to be a Playwright. She told me that I should work hard at school and get a proper job. She was right of course.
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, had its first highly successful showing in January 2016, so I intend to move forward in all three creative areas.
Pen Pals was my first novel, but a second, The Road to Cromer Pier, will be released in the Summer of 2019.
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.