The Girl on the Pier
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Why I wrote this book
I’ve been passionate about fiction since my teens. For a couple of decades I toyed with various ideas for a novel of my own; writing several drafts of different stories, all the while learning the craft. Before I completed anything I stumbled into sportswriting in 2004, but fiction has always been my great passion.
I want my writing to feel visceral, to have a physical effect on the reader. Although I don’t write autobiographically, I abandon anything that doesn’t feel totally real to me. I am interested equally in language, plot and character, and my aim was to write something literary in style which also had drama and suspense.
Regarding the novel’s setting, I’ve been fascinated with Brighton since a family holiday in 1986, and spent a lot of time there in the ‘90s, visiting friends at university. I knew as far back as 1997 that I wanted to write something about the derelict West Pier, and twice went on hardhat tours around that time. But within six years the pier was gone – broken by a storm, then mysteriously burned down.
SynopsisAbandoned time and again by those he holds dear, Patrick Clement is forging a reputation as a forensic sculptor, helping to identify the unclaimed missing. But he can't leave behind a remarkable summer night in 1993, spent alone on Brighton's derelict West Pier with Black, a beautiful photography student. Patrick is haunted by the fact that no sooner did he get to know her than she disappeared from his life...Who is this girl? And where is Black, the one who got away? Decades on, while at work, Patrick is tasked with reconstructing the skull of an unidentified girl found on the pier in the 1970s - the pier he still thinks about. A crime he recalls from childhood, when his family life was in turmoil, Patrick works to discover the truth behind what has happened. Set in Brighton, The Girl on the Pier spans several decades, from the seventies to the present day. Inspired by literary novelists such as Ian McEwan, Anne Tyler and John Updike, Paul uses vivid images to make the reader feel as though they are right there in the story. The Girl on the Pier will appeal to lovers of psychological thrillers and suspense novels.
Chris Rowland, author of From Where I Was Standing - “A terrific piece of writing. Beautiful prose, gripping story.”