On Fiction Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Martin Gore

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.
Pen-Pals-cover

Martin Gore

According to his website is:

a 61 year old Accountant who semi-retired to explore his love of creative writing. In hid career he held Board level jobs for over twenty five years, in private, public and third sector organisations. He 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 he was nine year’s old he told his long suffering mother that as he liked English composition and drama he was going to be a Playwright. She told him that he should work hard at school and get a proper job. He says She was right of course.

He started as an Office Junior at Jaguar in 1973 at eleven pounds sixty four a week. He thus grew up in the strike torn, class divided seventies. Notably in the 1974 miners strike Jaguar were hit by the three day week and worked with lighting from a generator. The Jaguar factory which employed thousands of people in Coventry is now a building site, and the office in the Triumph factory to which he later transferred is now a MacDonald’s.

He has lived in the midlands, the south of England, and now in rural East Yorkshire with Sandra, his wife of thirty six years. He supposes that as such he has a reasonable perspective on our current difficulties as a nation. He takes the view that our current austerity is a consequence of our collective failings in the past rather than a policy, and that the lessons of our history shouldn’t be lost.

He believes we should have less class division in our country, which although less of a factor today still exists in too many areas of life. He think it is fair to say that his own journey from Office Junior to Boardroom could not have happened in his father’s generation, so with every generation we seem to make progress.

But in the seventies he also saw at first hand the damage done by politically driven Trade Unions and ineffectual class ridden management. This division wiped out much of UK manufacturing which is in his view is the root cause of the austerity we know today. He thinks it important to capture this in a fiction novel, and Pen Pals is the result.

The opportunity to rekindle his interest in writing came in 2009, when he wrote his first pantomime Cinderella, for his home group, the Walkington Pantomime Players. He has now written seven, with the eighth, Beauty & the Beast, now in the works. He loves theatre, particularly musical theatre, and completed the Hull Truck Theatre Playwrite course in 2010. His first play, a comedy called He’s Behind You, had its first highly successful showing in January 2016, so he intends to move forward in all three creative areas.

Pen Pals is his first novel, The Road to Cromer Pier, his second.

He says:  “I’m an old fashioned writer. I want you to laugh and to cry. I want you to feel that my stories have a beginning, a middle, and a satisfactory ending. When I write I seem to disappear into another world, and become completely self absorbed. It’s a great feeling.

Live performance is great as you get instant feedback. Sometimes an audience doesn’t find a line funny, and yet something else I write they laugh at. Actors make a huge difference too of course. Every audience has different tastes, some like visual humour, some verbal. Whatever it takes, making people laugh is a really great feeling.

If you are an amdram group looking for a pantomime script then why not get in touch? I only ask for donations to my favourite charity, the excellent Hull Children’s University, if you make a profit. My pantomimes are written for larger groups, but I’m happy to tailor the script to meet your needs, without any charge. Oh and I expect a couple of free tickets of course…

 

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 http://www.martingore.co.uk and he is on Facebook, and Twitter @martingore

The Interview

1. What inspired you  to write fiction?

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.

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.

2. Who introduced you to fiction?

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!

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older writers?

Not at all really. I’m not really into the classics, I read purely for pleasure, and rather like true stories, hence my fondness for biographies.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

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.

5. What motivates you to write?

Pen Pals was written with the underlying purpose of telling of our journey to austerity. Of class ridden managements 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.

But as with my plays and pantomimes my pleasure is in the audience reaction. One reviewer of Pen Pals was adopted, and said that I had captured the feelings of an adopted child towards a birth mother perfectly. That sort of comment really motivates me.

6. What is your work ethic?

In spite of writing sporadically I am very capable of setting myself deadlines and hitting them, because that was how I achieved a successful business career. But I do balance my writing life with my working life, and with being a Grandparent, combined with lovely holidays. But I am certainly striving for perfection in my writing, and providing the reader with something that makes them laugh or cry.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

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.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

I would pay tribute to Joanne Harris. Although she is a successful writer she take 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.

9. Why do you write?

I like living the lives of my characters, and putting myself in their place. I love the audience reaction to things I write. If I’ve moved them to think, to laugh or to cry then I’ve succeeded.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Well I guess you find a topic which you 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.

I did do some creative writing classes, but the class were mainly poets, and I didn’t think that I’d learned much. Only recently however, I have realised that I learned some very good stuff there.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

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.

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 with which I sing, 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.

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