Jon chatted with Adrian Goldberg on BBC WM this morning, here’s what you missed (if you missed it):

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I said we’d have it done before the end of the weekend and we have. Starting at the crack of about half eleven we snuggled in our writing den until two separate 50,000 word plus accounts were hacked into one story of our journey to the outcrops of a dying culture.

It totals 104,063 words and now we’re going to spend a week polishing—before certain Pier Review funders will have a special preview in their inboxes as a thank you.

Then comes the proofing and copy editing, and the exciting prospect of pitching it to actual publishers and agents. We’ll keep you up to date with everything and will not be shy of asking for help, but for now:thanks to all who have been on the journey with us in any way.

And special thanks to our editorial assistant who is now dog tired.


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Writing a book is easy, and also hard. It turns out that the easy bits are also difficult when it comes down to it. The easiest bit is the idea, but it doesn’t stop there: you have to finish what your brain starts. Around three years ago I was sitting in the bar of the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath in Birmingham with my friend and artistic collaborator Danny Smith. We had done a couple of articles togther, had launched a magazine with some degree of sucess and basically liked drinking with each other. Then Danny—definitely Danny—said he wanted us to visit all of the piers in England and write a book about it.

We laughed, came up with a title, and then; did nothing. Nothing at all for at least a year.

It turns out that this was one of the hardest parts. You see when you have an idea and you ignore it, push it to the back of your brain like a washing machine pipe bracket in a kitchen drawer just in case you ever get round to doing anything with it, it pokes out at awkward times. Not only does it see itself reflected in other things you see or do it provides a worry that someone else will do it before you do, and it catches on the lip of the drawer when you’re looking for batteries. Worst is the nagging feeling that you get, reminding you that you’ll evenutally have to go through with it.

Writing the book is also the hardest part, two things get in the way. One is confidence, with every word you put down you feel useless and unfit for the task, with every book or article by someone else you read you feel you can’t live up to it, and every time you open the keyboard there are websites about obscure ’70s celebrities to look at—that’s something you know you can do well.

The other is life. Life gets in the way when writing a book. You have to work, rest, play, move house lots, move jobs, get married, be in love. Some of these are wonderfull but they are all rather difficult to do at the same time as writing a book.

Editing two sometimes contradictory accounts together may be the hardest part—but it’s what we’re going to do now. Danny is already on the coach to Oxfordshire, my shed is waiting us both. We’ll be finished on Sunday, we promise.

Actually going round the country as you’ll see in the finished book: that was the hardest part.

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These are the graphs from Scrivener (the writing program we both use) that shows that we’ve both now reached the end of the writing of the big old first draft:


Celebrations are now ensuing, and we’ll have a proper completed edit within the month, promise. Pier Review supporters check your email inboxes regularly as we may well just take the opportunity for free proofreading to send you a preview.

Thanks for keeping on keeping on.



Hello adoring public (we sent this to our email list—subscribe for yerself over on the side…),

It’s been a year and a bit since we got back from the maddest, most pointless, road trip ever bumbled along. I know you all have pretty much given up hope on ever seeing a book from our efforts. But this is a positive missive: Danny has finished his half of the book and is whisker close to finishing, and Jon, well Jon is getting through it. The good news is that Jon’s stuff usually needs much less editing than Danny’s. So when he’s finished they can spend a drunken weekend on Jon’s boat arguing and lashing it together and they’ll have a manuscript to tote around to agents and publishers. Initial rumblings from ‘the trade’ are good, honest, but they need something to read.

Why has it taken so long?
Writing a book is hard, there are lots of words. It’s the biggest project either Danny and Jon have ever attempted and the learning curve is steep. Also the thing is, life gets in the way. Jon has since changed careers and moved cities, and Danny moved to the coast and back changing jobs and minds countless times. They both have been using their spare time to get the book written and Danny’s half alone breaks the 50,000 word mark.

Why are you looking for a publisher? Why not self publish?
Jon and Danny love the idea of all sorts of new tech, fringe culture and self publishing. They are currently engaged in poking it to see what they can do with it. But they both recognise the industry is changing, this will be the last time a project of theres will get published using the old model. And plus, we think this is a fairly mainstream idea that could do with some proper mainstreaming.

Of course we know we have a core audience (you lovely people) and feel very grateful that the future allows us to get the book out to you. But we want to at least try with the old school first.

What should we do in the meantime?
Jon has a collection of his writing out for sale and Danny has copied him, you could always go get them. Also look for the ebook prequel to Pier Review (free to you, here) or check out their respective blogs ( and ) and keep an eye out for Area magazine which frequently contains articles from them both.

Oh, and did you know a draft first chapter was available to read and share (here tis)?

Peace and sticky rock

The PR PR team

After eight days of sleeping in tents and on floors we reached Saltburn. It was a fresh morning and we were not feeling our best (probably). All the better to be perked up by being interviewed about our quest for the pier’s 100th birthday documentary:

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It’s not cannon, and it’s not true. But here’s a little festive short story for you:

Pirates of Clacton [PDF]

Pirates of Clacton [RTF]

Pirates of Clacton [epub]


We’re a good few thousand words into what will become Pier Review: the book, but to keep you interested (and to hopefully make sure that you sign up to our email or Twitter or something) here’s a quick look at what you may have got if you’d signed up for the postcard option. Here’s the picture side of every postcard we sent (the writing sides remain for our lovely funders):

And we’ve also made our secret blog open to all, you can read some behind-the-scenes stuff now.

Highlights may include Jon getting increasingly melancholic and Danny getting drunker.


After pushing the car to start it in Cardiff, and being too frightened to stop until we reached home even to buy water or food, we for some reason took A roads home up to Gloucester. In pure synchronicity the radio kicked into PJ Harvey’s The Last Living Rose just as we crossed the boarder into England.

Wales hadn’t been bad in itself, but we’d been very ill on Southport overindulgence and feeling low since Blackpool really. Dan was both hungover and in pain from his back, grunts from the rear seat being his main way of communicating. The car trouble wasn’t helping my mood either—I’m sure jump starting it isn’t good in the long run and for the price of an hour or so I was sure there was a Kwik Fit (or in Wales a Kwijky Fitwy) to pop to.

We’d always said piers were just a hook to hang the narrative on, and by now the routine of visiting was very well established: drive into town scanning the horizon, spot the pier, hunt for free parking on a hill (or at least the flat to make pushing easier), walk to the pier and onto it if possible, stopping to write notes, hunt for postcards, decide if the town had anything to offer…

By this point the pier archetypes were easy to spot: pretty empty, closed/in ruins, fading commercialism, and community revived. So we were even more hunting for the odd or for people to talk to. People that weren’t us were a relief; after a few days male conversation falls into nods and tropes so students, bar-staff, shop owners, especially lighthouse keepers has been welcome breaks.

But when we hit the last pier, an emptiness.



What now?

Well, first for me, mind detox, reading up on my Authurian Legends as they hit me many times round the country, counting the receipts to see how much we spent and getting the car fixed. For us we’ve got to write the book. That might take a while, but months rather than years, and sort out a publisher.