Authors interview: JON BOUNDS & DANNY SMITH

Jon Bounds and Danny Smith have written a very entertaining road trip book, ‘Pier Review’, where they set out to visi the piers of England and Wales. They have kindly answered a few questions regarding their book…

Have you been pleased with the sales and reaction/reviews for ‘Pier Review’?

D – We made our advance back, and more besides. So that’s a real win in the way the industry is at the moment. And because of the learning curve about promoting a book is so damn steep. We did alright. just getting it published was a massive achievement.

J – The reviews and reactions that mean the most are those that come from people that don’t know you: they’re under no obligation to be kind or interested. We’ve had enough good notices to give us a bit of of a warm glow, as well as the couple of people that were very angry upon finding out that there wasn’t that much about piers in the book. Through the book we’ve got to speak to and meet lots of nice people too and had a great visit to the Isle of Man where the people battling to save their pier were kind enough to dub Danny and I ‘pier consultants’ so the insurance covered us having a good nose at the structure.

How easy/hard was it to pitch the idea of visiting all the English and Welsh piers to publishers?

The process wasn’t too bad itself, we just wrote every version of the things that publisher required. Half page synopsis, full page, chapter breakdowns etc. and kept a spreadsheet., we knew the idea had a large audience because who hasn’t been to the seaside in britain, we’re an island. Its we’re surrounded by it. Plus the genre of bored white guys do something stupid and write about it is well trodden.

I think the idea was easy to grasp and once it was a book – rather than the idea of us wanting to do it in the first place – people liked it. Them finding out that it was an odd dual-narrative (like these answers) and slightly psychogeographic book with class analysis and some dick jokes made some love it. Others not so much, but we got there, and our agent did all the really hard work.

Any plans to visit the Scottish piers (three in total I think?) – maybe even as a eBook exclusive?!

I’d still like to make a radio documentary of it, and record but edit out Midge’s voice. Rule one of Pier Review – Midge doesn’t get a voice.

Scotland remains a long long way, and very cold. Never say never though.

pr

Can Blackpool ever redeem itself in your view?

It can and has, I’ve been since and enjoyed it. But I’m normally a big fan of sleazy and broken. Just on the trip lack of sleep and being trapped in a car with the same two people was doing things to our brain.

Blackpool obviously isn’t as dark as we paint it, and certainly isn’t as dark as the stuff that the publishers edited out from those passages on the grounds of taste. I’m positive that it has interesting things going on, lovely residents, a vibrant cultural scene and a fascinating history. I just do not think it is any fun whatsoever to be there, though.

Music and radio played a big part in the traveling between piers. What was the worst radio station you had to endure?

All three of us are big music fans just of slightly differant things, we expected more arguments about the radio. Even the bad radio is good though, the Southend local dj DJ SLAPDASH stands out though. At one point he was doing a crossword live on air. Can’t remember if that made it into the book.

Apart from Essex’s most quotidian station that Dan mentions, we firmly kept the dial locked to BBC 6Music. Which meant we got a firm dose of that month’s playlist: every line of Brett Anderson’s Brittle Heat is branded on my brain. I’m sure it’s a decent track but… nah it’s a joke of a track, a man trying to reclaim his youth in public. I can’t condone that.

After visiting all the piers and sea fronts, do you still have a generally good opinion and feelings for the British seaside?

I do, because even the places that have been redeveloped and are quite new, still have remained a smidge tatty and human. The seaside will always be a place where we go for fun and as such have a special type of slightly crap glamour.

Oh yes, we couldn’t have done the trip or written so much about it if we didn’t really love these places. And now I have a ton of memories to add to that love. That’s what our country is all about.

Are there any plans for another joint book together?

We’ve talked about a couple of ideas, one is sticking out at the moment so maybe…

We had a good chat about a couple of ideas, and the conclusion was really that we would as we’d forgotten how hard it was the first time. The process of writing about something that you’d both experienced wasn’t as hard as it might have been: we took out precious little material that we’d written that overlapped even when writing about the same things. The process of doing the thing in the first place is another story: it’s not surprise that the idea that is sticking out is one where there are separate bedrooms.

Anything else to add… (feel free to plug away with links etc.)

My links are

Edgetrinkets.co

@probablydrunk

If you really want to help any author WRITE THEM AN AMAZON REVIEW popular books go to the head of searches and popularity is decided on number of reviews. Amazon presales are a big deal now also, often deciding how much promotion a publisher is going to give a book. So, yeah, write us an amazon review. And we’ll owe you a pint or something next time we see you x

You can find most things I write or links to them at popandpolitics.co.uk or @bounder. At the moment Dan and I, alongside a couple of our mates, are just about to launch a podcast where we take a ‘sideways look’ at the universe of the Hitchhiker’s’ Guide to the Galaxy. You might think that that’s already a bit sideways looking, so we’ll end up looking at it head on, but we think the idea has got legs. It’s called Beware of the Leopard and can be found at http://btlpodcast.com

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