“Forever, ever delayed” – Manic Street Preachers.
When I started putting my main book project “Backpacking Centurion” together around 2010, the plan was to release the book as a one-off one time book, in 2014 – 2015 just after I had visited my 100th country!! On the 26th March 2015, I boarded a flight from Italy to Tunisia and that was my 100 country celebration…
That whole idea of releasing the book, didn’t exactly go to plan. Also, I expected to release that book in Northern Ireland only, with maybe a slight launch in either Bournemouth or Hong Kong. At the time, I wasn’t even in Poland, I certainly didn’t live in Poland nor did I expect to live here. In 2015 I spent a few months in Bournemouth and Hong Kong, completing that book mostly from a flat in Lam Tin in Hong Kong.
Now, as I sit in Warszawa, Poland in July 2020 things have gone completely crazy since those days…here is what is happening with my series of books…and YES they are finally released!! And yes first in Poland! Coronavirus aided of course.
2016 – 2020
Between 2016 to 2020, I made the move to Poland. This was totally unexpected, and I shared my story to get here a few times before –
Mainly what happened was that in 2015, I split with my former wife to be and decided to leave Asia behind. We had spent 5 years together and I was looking to relocate back to Europe. I spent 5 months in Central Asia and was likely to live in Bishkek in magnetic Kyrgyzstan. However, after coming back to mainland Europe (France) for Euro 2016 football in June 2016, I made my way “back towards Bishkek”. That included a stop over in Gdańsk, Kaliningrad and Gdynia. The plan was then to fly Warszawa to Bishkek, finish the book and settle in Kyrgyzstan. But it was the Polish seaside city of Gdańsk that I fell in love with. I knew it was going to be a waste of time heading back to Bishkek. Of course, I have friends all over the world and could settle anywhere. But Poland, it was to be. Then in 2016, I sipped a coffee while working on my laptop in a cafe in little known Starogard Gdański, realising the book was finished and I planned the release. Unfortunately while I enjoyed my tours of Kociewie and Kashubia, I suffered a mental breakdown. I fell into deep depression, I went missing. My old blog had run its course and I was lost and lonely. The book was shelved and cancelled.
Over the past few years as I have battled with serious depression (which was caused by other people lieing to me), the book was forgotten and shelved. Early 2020, I looked at it again. I made the final edits during the Coronavirus lockdown. Having contacted many publishers down the years, it was now clear that it wasn’t going to be ONE book, but a trilogy at least, with a probable (as yet unconfirmed) fourth volume to come. That is the story in short! So in June 2020, I finally received my book. The first volume was released in Poland first, on the 25th June 2020. The second volume will also be released in Poland first. However the third volume may finally have the Northern Irish release first. We shall see. So here are the details of my book series.
What is Backpacking Centurion?
Backpacking Centurion is Jonny Blair’s first printed collection of solo books. It is a series of honest and real stories from his travels through the first 100 countries of his journey. The series begins in 1980 in Northern Ireland and takes us on a journey right through until 2015, in Spain (just after Jonny’s 100th or 114th country depending on your classifications). The book was written between 1991 – 2015 on Jonny’s journeys to 100 countries. From 2015 – 2020 it was edited on many ocassions and as a result needed to be split into different volumes, as the book was too huge.
How Many Volumes are in Backpacking Centurion?
The answer to this is still unclear. At the start, in 2015, it was meant to be just ONE book – all 147 chapters were written and then 47 of them were cut to make one book. However that book was too huge and needed to be split into three main volumes. Those three volumes are currently being edited into separate books and will be released as follows –
Summer 2020 – Volume 1 – Don’t Look Back In Bangor. (available worldwide September 12th 2020)
Autumn 2020 – Volume 2 – Lands Down Under. (available from December 2020)
Winter 2021 – Volume 3 – Taints and Honours (available from March 2021)
Potentially Spring 2021 – Volume 4 / The Chapters that missed the cut – Untitled as yet.
All four volumes are finished.
What is Volume 1 – Don’t Look Back in Bangor?
Don’t Look Back In Bangor is the first volume from Jonny Blair’s “Backpacking Centurion” series. This book focuses on Jonny’s early days growing up in Northern Ireland, watching football and dreaming of one day travelling to far flung places like Yugoslavia, East Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Jonny kicks things off in Northern Ireland, with stories of childhood hobbies, teenage angst and global aspirations. Expect honesty and lies intertwined with regret, remorse, desire and passion. This is a journey of ups and downs. By the end of volume one, Jonny will have taken you from Bangor to Bobruisk, from Belfast to Bournemouth and from Newtownards to Osterweddingen. The book includes diaries from Jonny’s first trips abroad, his discovery of unknown places and the loves of his life. It is a thriling and emotional journey with boundless energy, flawless flair and unstoppable aplomb.
Why has Volume 1 taken so long to release?
This is the burning question. The book was basically completed FIVE years ago. In May 2020 the final edits were made and a few chapter changes were needed and the volumes were altered. The main reason for the delay is because Jonny had no idea which way to release this book. He didn’t want an e-Book, he didn’t want to publish it himself, he didn’t want it limited to one country. He wanted a printed book on his terms, available right now to be posted to anywhere in the world. As Jonny admitted, the writing was EASY, the editing was slightly gruelling but overall EASY. The putting it into a format to sell was the most difficult thing I ever imagined.
But the writing of course was easy. Easy easy easy.
I basically thought, you just write a book, send it to a publisher, pay them and then they print it and sell it. If only it was that easy. I contacted every publisher in Northern Ireland. None of them were suitable. I contacted publishers in Poland. None of them were suitable. Bookbaby agreed that for a fee they could sell it via 15 or more different sites around the world, including Amazon, and so I have used them for the FIRST three Volumes. Here is my Author Profile page on Book Baby – https://store.bookbaby.com/profile/JonnyBlair
How much does Volume 1 – DLBIB – cost to buy?
$19.82 US (plus P and P)
This is the sad part. I wanted to sell it for $19.82 or £19.82. That is the exact year that Northern Ireland beat Spain 1-0 in the World Cup and for me, I wanted my book to be this price. While officially on the website, the book is listed at $19.82, this doesn’t include shipping, or postage and packaging. Here are the places you can buy my book currently:
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on Amazon Globally
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on BookBaby Globally
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on WH Smith in the UK
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on Barnes and Noble in the USA
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on Waterstones in the UK
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on Porchlight Books in the UK
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on Love Reading in the UK
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on Booktopia in Australia
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on Ark in Norway
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on Saxo in Denmark
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on Amazon in Deutschland
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on William Dam in Denmark
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on My Shopping in Australia
I am featured on Belfast Real with Jonathan Watson about Backpacking Centurion
I am featured on the County Down Spectator about the book launch
The first volume of my book series Backpacking Centurion is released on Tales in the UK
I am featured in the Sunday life about the book launch
All this bureaucracy doesn’t put me off writing, but it does continue my anti-capitalist ideal. If I could just print this book in my bedroom and post them all personally to you (using Poczta Polska) I would do it and it would be cheaper. But I use Book Baby as the middle man to manage it and they are professional about it. So I know that this book is not released in an ideal way, after all these years but for me, I’d rather lose money and have it released with the option for everyone to buy it, than keep it private forever.
Full Details of the book
- Genre: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
- SubGenre: Adventurers & Explorers
- Language: English
- Author: Jonny Blair
- Release Date (Poland): 25th June 2020
- Release Date (Global): 12th September 2020
- Book series: Backpacking Centurion
- Book sub-title: A Northern Irishman’s Journey Through 100 Countries
- Series title: Volume 1 – Don’t Look Back In Bangor
- Series Number: 1
- Pages: 300
- Format: Paperback
- Paperback ISBN:9781098315061
What do you mean Backpacking Centurion ends in 2015? What about the stories from 2015 – 2020?
The final Chapter of Backpacking Centurion (Volume 3) relates to April 2015. That is when that story ends and the closing of the book. The book was finished in August 2015. As for my travels after April 2015, those will be for a totally different project and a different book. They are NOT part of the unique “first 100 country series”, which is why Backpacking Centurion ended in April 2015.
Here is the full chapter listing for Volume One.
#ulsterczyk #dontstopliving #backpackingcenturion
Chapter 1 – Fool Circle (April 2015)
Chapter 2 – My Childhood Sweetheart (The 1980s)
Chapter 3 – Arconada…Armstrong! (25th June 1982)
Chapter 4 – My First Backpacking Adventure (1991)
Chapters 5, 6 and 7 Prelude to the Bangor Grammar School Trilogy
Chapter 5 – The Great Exam Heist (May 1994)
Chapter 6 – Where Were You While We Were Getting High? (1994 – 1996)
Chapter 7 – The OXI One (25th June 1997)
Chapter 8 – The Good Friday Disagreement (1997 – 1998)
Chapter 9 – My Favourite Mistake (2001 – 2002)
Chapter 10 – Don’t Stop Living (2001 onwards)
Chapter 11 – The Lock In (2003 onwards)
Chapter 12 – The Night I Sacked My Flatmate (2004)
Chapter 13 – For Your Arms Only (30th March 2004)
Chapter 14 – Lauren (2004 – 2005)
Chapter 15 – The Seventy Quid Taxi (March 2005)
Chapter 16 – Barfgate (March 2005)
Chapter 17 – The Original Monopoly Pub Crawl (April 2005)
Chapter 18 – Travel Blogging Chilled The Radio Star (1997 – 2008)
Chapter 19 – The Best Rock’n’Roll Band You Never Heard Of (2005 – 2006)
Chapter 20 – The Isle of Wight Green (2006)
Chapter 21 – Biting the Apple (2006 – 2007)
Chapter 22 – What’s A Travel Blog? (2007)
Chapter 23 – How Till Get Drunk for Ten Dollars in New York City (July 2007)
Chapter 24 – Dust From a Distant Sun (July 2007)
Chapter 25 – A Fast Flight to China (July 2007)
Chapter 26 – Multiple B (August 2007)
Chapter 27 – Present (August 2007)
Chapter 28 – He Wears An Ulster Hat (September 2007)
Chapter 29 – Right Backs on the Left (September 2007)
Chapter 30 – SOENISC, The Glory Years (2005 – 2009)
Chapter 31 – Ulster Cherry (2003 – 2005)
Chapter 32 – The Day We Got Relegated (May 2008)
Chapter 33 – Walletless in Trieste (October 2008)
Chapter 34 – Wegoslavia (October 2008)
Chapter 35 – Cod and a Good Romance (2008 – 2009)
Where has Volume 1 been released?
25th June 2020 – Released in Poland only for $19.82 or 100 zlotych (face to face purchase only).
Backpacking Centurion Facebook Page – sign up / like the Facebook Page to stay up to date for book updates.
I signed up to Book Baby in 2014, I finished the book completely (yes, really) in 2015. My profile on Book Baby – https://store.bookbaby.com/profile/JonnyBlair. Here is the exact link to buy the book from Book Baby (but unless you want to pay high postage charges, don’t buy it there – wait until September 2020 or meet me in Poland before that and buy it face to face) –
12th September 2020 – Released Globally!!
From 12th September 2020 everyone can now buy my book online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other such online Bookstores.
Although “Backpacking Centurion” has yet to be read by anyone, ahead of its launch, here are some public recommendations about the author, Jonny Blair.
“There may be better bloggers, there may be better travellers but at both Jonny Blair is flawless and combined he is unstoppable.” – A Life Less Ordinary.
“A travel writer and backpacker, he has been travelling full-time for seven of the past 13 years and has visited around 120 countries – many of them currently struggling under the weight of years of warfare.” – Irish Times.
“You’re the best traveller, Jonny. I can’t wait to buy your book.” – A.M.
“Jonny has unending energy and zest for… well, just about everything. No question too complex, no trip too mundane with Jonny. He travels, explores, pokes, prods and enjoys every second – Travel in his footprints or via your arm chair but Don’t Stop Living!” – Maria Falvey.
“Don’t Stop Living!” – High School Graffiti Artist in Toronto, Canada.