At Unbound authors pitch their ideas and you choose which books get written.
STOP PRESS! The first chapter of the book is now available to all subscribers as a free download from the shed.
The Best Water Skier In Luxembourg will recount my encounters with those who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of excellence while almost no one else is looking. It’s a book about unsung heroes, in unsung communities, doing incredible things. It’s mostly travelogue, with a bit of sociology thrown in (come on – it’s my job!). It’s also a challenge I have laid down to myself to discover worlds I know nothing about.
Last year, through Unbound, I managed to fund the first chapter and went off to Luxembourg to try and find the eponymous hero of the book. I found him, but you’ll have to read the chapter to find out who he is! And I also found so much more: the Luxembourg water skiing scene has an extraordinary history and an interesting future. I met the stalwarts of Luxembourg water skiing – including Sylvie Hülsemann, Luxembourg’s former world champion – and heard stories of passion, pleasure, pain and extreme moisture.
Now that Mission Luxembourg has completed, the next step is to fund the following expeditions to find:
– The most powerful politician in Alderney
– The Icelandic special forces
– Malta’s favourite soft drink
– The best-selling novelist in Suriname
– The most popular heavy metal band in Botswana
How you can help
This is not a solitary quest and I will need all the help I can get.
First, do you know about any of the chapter themes? Can you offer me advice? Could you introduce me to people? Could you donate incentives? I’d love to hear from you.
Second – and most importantly - I need to raise £15,000 to cover the research trip, writing, design and first printing of the book. That means I need to persuade roughly 750 of you to back me (or less if people are generous!). The tempting rewards listed opposite show you exactly what you get for pledging.
Everyone who supports the book will be able to download the first chapter on Luxembourg very shortly - it is available to download in the shed.
If you have already supported the first chapter, those fine people at Unbound will post a £5 credit to your account when you pledge for the entire book.
Odd though it may seem, one of the great moments of my childhood was stumbling across a branch of the Leamington Spa Building Society during a family outing in Central London. I wasn’t interested in banking nor did I much like the large building societies such as Nationwide or Abbey National. Instead I ‘collected’ small and obscure ones such as the Harpenden Building Society, which had a branch in Radlett near my home in Elstree. I loved the fact that it was always empty but also felt anxious on the staff’s behalf: surely this couldn’t be a real business. The Leamington Spa Building Society was even more extreme - it was huge and completely void of customers. I wondered who would ever join such an obscure institution and felt kinship and admiration for them.
Ever since I was a child I’ve relished smallness and obscurity. As well as minor building societies, I was fascinated by smaller airlines and secretly cursed my Dad if on business trips he took British Airways rather than a small airline. If he flew to Brussels I took it as a sign of moral weakness if he didn’t take Sabena, the Belgian national carrier (it went bust in 2001, probably because of the indifference of people like my Dad).
I am a 39 year-old sociologist with a modest reputation. Throughout my life I have yearned to be the best at something. But I am not a genius and so I’ve adjusted my ambitions. For a long time, when people ask me what Idid, I used to offer the answer (tongue firmly in cheek) that 'I am the best water skier in Luxembourg'. In fact, I’d never been to the Grand Duchy or been towed behind a boat: I’m a sociologist whose two small areas of expertise are heavy metal and the Anglo-Jewish community.
I want to make this journey to uncover what Brian Eno calls 'scenius', – the creativity that is unleashed within groups. I am in awe of the single-minded commitment that members of small or obscure communities often demonstrate.
So The Best Water Skier In Luxembourg – Big Fish, Small Ponds will search out the odd, the quirky and the eccentric, but it will do so not to ridicule – this will not be a ‘stunt book’. Even when I uncover amusing stories, I will do so in order to look at what drives people to excel and the communities that sustain them.
Here is the Facebook Fan Club
This book needs
679 more pledges.
All supporters get their name printed in every edition of the book. All levels include the e-book and immediate access to the author's shed. Supporters of books that don't reach their target receive a FULL refund.
e-book with your name listed as a patron in the back
DIGITAL & POSTCARD
e-book with your name listed as a patron in the back and I’ll send you a personally addressed, handwritten postcard from each of the five destinations
Limited edition hardback first edition + e-book, with your name in the back
HARDBACK & POSTCARDS
limited edition first edition hardback + e-book both with your name in the back and a personally addressed, handwritten postcard from me from each of the five destinations
All the above plus an exclusive heavy metal-style ‘Luxembourg water skiing legion’ T-shirt
All the above plus a surprise present from each of the five destinations.
All the above, plus an invitation for you and a friend to an exclusive lunch party where I’ll give an amusing slide show and lecture about my trips.
Everything up to 'Present' level plus I will come to you where ever you are in the UK (the smaller and odder the better) and deliver my lecture to you and your friends or colleagues. (Or enemies).
You can come too ! Accompany me on one of my trips and feature in the story. As well as everything up to ‘Present’ level.
FUND A CHAPTER
Fund a chapter listed above or suggest your own mission and you get to come with me (if you want) and to feature in the story and all the other levels, plus your name listed in the front of the book as a dedicatee. I’ll basically make you feel grateful for the rest of your life