It's been a joy and a privilege to help first-time author Enton Barefoot realise his dream of publishing his autobiography, Laid Bare.
There are many reasons why people set out to become authors, but Enton's was clear to me from the first time we met. He said: "My biggest wish is that it helps someone who’s going through addiction or who’s started on the path of recovery. If I can help just one person via this book then I’ll be a very, very happy man indeed."
The 18-month journey that has brought us to where we are - one week away from the official launch in Leicester - has been full of hard work, good fortune and many slices of serendipity.
I met Enton after I was recommended to his partner Vicky by a close associate, Hannah Sookias, who thought I may be able to help Vicky with some content writing. In the course of a chat with Vicky, I mentioned that ghostwriting was one of my services. She immediately said: "You should talk to my partner because he's writing a book."
Laddish culture of BritpopEnton and I met for a coffee at Langan's Tea Rooms in Burton-on-Trent and he began to tell me his remarkable story of recovery from addiction. I knew that by sharing his story he could make a real difference to people facing similar challenges, and shatter the stereotypes of how and why people become addicts and street homeless.
When he sent me what he'd already written, I went straight back to him and said: "You actually don't need a ghostwriter because you are a natural storyteller."
I was impressed by the strength and honesty of Enton's voice, which jumped off every page. I loved that he had begun to weave his favourite music into his stories. I believe it adds to the power of his book that the years of his increasingly reckless consumption of drugs and alcohol is soundtracked by the iconic tunes of the 1990s, a decade of excess and the laddish culture of Britpop.
|The cover of Laid Bare by Enton Barefoot|
I have nagged a bit, sometimes, to keep him on track. He has kindly described it as 'holding him to account' and I shall always be proud of my place alongside Vicky and the rest of #TeamEnton in the acknowledgements of his first edition.
|Noreen Oliver with Russell Brand and Enton Barefoot|
All revenue for the tea rooms is ploughed back into community services to provide education, training and employment for people who have undergone rehabilitation at the BAC O’Connor centres.
After hearing Enton's story, Noreen contacted Russell Brand, a long-term supporter of her work, and he agreed to read an early copy of the manuscript and afterwards gave us a testimonial, which now sits on the front page of the finished book. Noreen, Enton and Russell are all strong advocates of abstinence-based recovery.
Noreen also arranged for Enton and Russell to meet when Russell visited Burton in December 2019 for a BAC O'Connor celebration night.
|Enton Barefoot and Russell Brand|
Noreen has called the book: "A brave and powerful story by an inspiring individual."
She added: "Enton’s book provides us all with a shining example of how Recovery can be achieved and how, despite the most difficult circumstances, it’s possible to face and overcome the challenges that addiction presents."
As the manuscript neared completion, #TeamEnton expanded with the addition of publisher Sarah Houldcroft of Goldcrest Books and PR expert Rachel Hargrave, of RDZ PR.
"Honest, uplifting and truly inspirational"A connection of Vicky's put her in touch with actor Stephen Graham and his wife who also voiced their support for the book.
Stephen said: "Enton's journey into recovery is honest, uplifting and truly inspirational....a book that's good for your soul."
Interest from the media is beginning to gather momentum, and the official launch takes place at Lily's Live Lounge on January 30. You can buy the book now, from Enton's own website.
If you are in or near Burton-on-Trent, you can also come and meet Enton, hear him read extracts from the book and buy a copy when he does an author reading at Langan's Tea Rooms (back where he and I first met) on Thursday, February 6, from 4.30pm. The book will be on sale, with 20% of all sales on that night going to the O’Connor Gateway Charitable Trust.
Enton said: “I am absolutely blown away by the support and encouragement from both Noreen and Russell and the reading night is a very small thank you for their time, generosity and support.”