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The Road To Cromer Pier

I wrote ten chapters of a book in around 2000, drawing on my own childhood in Coventry, and based on our annual family holidays in Cromer. My father was originally from Norwich, and Cromer was an inevitable choice as it was pretty much the nearest seaside. I have three brothers, and it was seven hours by bus from Coventry to Cromer. My mother would send our clothes ahead in a trunk, meaning that I had very little to wear in the run-up to the holiday! We stayed in East Runton, near the filling station, and more latterly in some holiday flats on the seafront. The memories of football and cricket on the beach, amusement arcades and fish and chips have stayed with me. Sunburn and revolting pink calamine lotion too!

Sadly, at the time, I wasn’t sure that it was working as a novel, and both work and family pressures had to take priority in my life back then.

As I became involved in am-dram more and more with the Walkington Pantomime Players, I decided to develop a play set around the Summertime Special Show on Cromer Pier, building on my previous work. Although I completed many drafts of it as a play, I couldn’t get it performed, mainly due to the large cast required.

Having converted Pen Pals from a play to a novel I began the same journey with The Road to Cromer Pier in 2016. I approached the Cromer Pier Theatre company in 2017, to get an insider’s perspective of this unique piece of British theatre.

The interviews I undertook included one with James Bustar, a juggler/comedian, who was in the 2017 show. Having watched the show one evening the sheer quality stood out for me. This is a highly professional organisation running a top-class show, so I needed to make sure that my book did justice to that. It took nearly two years to do it.

I launched the novel at the preview night of the 2019 Summertime Special Show at the Pavilion Theatre on 28th June, and the feedback has been wonderful. I even sold a copy to Lady Dodd, Ken Dodd’s widow!

So what is it all about then? Well, The Road to Cromer Pier is a fiction novel about the lives and loves of the cast and crew of the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show. As the cover says:

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after thirty 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.’

The Road to Cromer Pier is available in paperback and Amazon ebook, and from Waterstones. There is a play version available too. Please contact me for details.