New St Leonards book celebrates special connections in an “incredibly special place”

A new book celebrates St Leonards as an “incredibly special place.”
Joanna MurrayJoanna Murray
Joanna Murray

Confessions of a Barista on Platform 1 has been published by The Firle Press at £8.99. You can buy the book directly from The Firle Press Shop, order it through book shops or order your copy through Amazon.

Its author is Joanna Murray, aged 54, who lives just outside Hastings.

“I decided to walk away from the corporate world and set up a small coffee shop on the London-bound platform of St Leonards Warrior Square Station. I wanted to work for myself and provide financial security for my children. I was nervous about the area (I grew up Oxfordshire). Hastings and St Leonards have somewhat of a lively reputation and people using stations come from all walks of life.

“I soon realised that St Leonards is an incredibly special place. Its community is both diverse and eccentric. I also realised that behind my coffee shop counter – I was perfectly placed to observe and overlook life on platform 1.

“I also discovered that in the time it takes to make a coffee, strangers feel liberated enough to share their individual life stories.

“Coffee, trains and travellers proved to be a powerful combination.

“Without even realising it, I became a counsellor to my customers.

“Their life stories were fascinating – some funny, some incredulous, some simply heart-breaking.

“This special insight into the local community and the travelling public inspired me to write this book.

“The amazing trust, the extraordinary true stories and human interactions that happened across the counter deserved to be shared.

“This book has particular significance for me because it took me on my very own unexpected journey of personal discovery.

“The book is narrative non-fiction. It will appeal to readers with a good sense of humour to those who have or admire entrepreneurial spirit and to readers who find people as fascinating as I do.

“This true story is set in the coffee shop. The starting point is Civil Dawn – a routine early-morning opening of the coffee shop as a body is spotted by station staff lying in the community vegetable garden on the opposite platform

“The book is both quirky and compassionate. It reveals how much we all share, how we all have our private struggles and joys – and how the most unlikely-looking person might actually be a hero.

“I thoroughly enjoyed writing this book. The stories have a special place in my heart.

“I am currently working on a stage adaptation. This is a stand-alone publication. A second book is in the pipeline.”

“I have always been interested in creative writing and have written the occasional published article. Writing a book has always been a long-term ambition of mine.

“I began to write seriously in 2018 when I came up with the idea for this book.

“Writing can be very therapeutic as it is a form of escapism but it also requires discipline, stamina and a sense of humour.”