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‘A homage to Norfolk cinema’ - Great Yarmouth author reveals inspiration behind new book

PUBLISHED: 15:17 11 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:17 11 July 2020

Owen Nicholls, who grew up in Great Yarmouth, is thrilled to see his first published book on the shelves of Norwich's Waterstones. Though the book is set in London, it is based on his formative experiences working in Norfolk cinemas. Photo: Sarah Burgess

Owen Nicholls, who grew up in Great Yarmouth, is thrilled to see his first published book on the shelves of Norwich's Waterstones. Though the book is set in London, it is based on his formative experiences working in Norfolk cinemas. Photo: Sarah Burgess

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An author whose first published book recently came out in paperback has described the novel as a “homage to Norfolk cinema”.

The book, Love, Unscripted, was signed by Headline Publishing as part of a two-book deal. Mr Nicholls says he hopes the next book can be set in East Anglia. Photo: Sarah BurgessThe book, Love, Unscripted, was signed by Headline Publishing as part of a two-book deal. Mr Nicholls says he hopes the next book can be set in East Anglia. Photo: Sarah Burgess

Though set in London, Owen Nicholls ‘Love, Unscripted’ is really about his formative experiences working at Norfolk movie theatres.

Growing up in Bradwell, his first job was at the old Hollywood Cinema along Great Yarmouth’s Marine Parade in 1999-2000 while he was at East Norfolk Sixth Form College.

After that, he made the move to Norwich’s Odeon where he worked as a projectionist, calling the gig “the best job he’s ever had”.

The book, a romantic comedy about a man who struggles to differentiate between love on the big screen and real-life relationships, Mr Nicholls describes as “semi-autobiographical”.

He added: “I’ve always wanted to work in film and be in film, but since that industry is so hard to break into, I worked my experiences and ideas into a book instead. That was as close to the real thing as I could get.”

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Mr Nicholls first started writing his book in 2011 and continued while working full-time at Virgin Money in Norwich as a copywriter. He owes the book’s success to the National Writing Centre’s Escalator Scheme, onto which he was accepted and set up with a mentor.

Before that, however, he was made redundant from his projectionist job and travelled around Toronto with his now-wife.

He said: “We both absolutely love film, and bonding over the cinema is how we got together. She’s a graphic designer, and while she worked in Toronto I signed up to be an extra.

“Somehow I ended up on the cast of Pacific Rim, and can say one of the crowning moments of my life will always be playing the ‘unnamed marine’ in a fake helicopter alongside Idris Elba.”

He continued: “My wife and I live in Holt now, and got married at Cinema City here in Norwich last year. She is actually from Lowestoft though.

“We always joke that, with me being from Great Yarmouth and her Lowestoft, we’re actually the Romeo and Juliet of East Anglia.”

But while Mr Nicholls is thrilled to see signed copies of his novel on Waterstones’ book shelves, he admitted feeling worried about the future of the arts.

He said: “Multinational companies will come out of the pandemic relatively unscathed, but people need to support their local arts hubs now more than ever.”


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