Heathcote Williams on Liggers and Dreamers

Liggers & Dreamers by Josie Demuth

A review by Heathcote Williams

Cork Street in London  is an eerie ship of fools where art racketeers set out their wares in galleries whose annual rent can run to a quarter of a million pounds. Small wonder then that despite its glitzy chic it has an air of quiet desperation. 

        Beautiful gallery assistants are urged by the gallery’s proprietors to beguile potential buyers who enter the premises and then regale them with vacuous blandishments about the compelling nature of the artist on display.  Vamped in other words.

        Thus the gallery owners hope to lure in bankers and CEOs and movie stars and property tycoons in order to persuade them that they absolutely must require incomprehensible and exorbitantly priced art objects in their hallways in order to impress or – more likely – confuse their friends.

        It’s a lavish confidence trick, of course, but those who participate in the business are reluctant to admit that the Emperor has no clothes since art is one of the hardest currencies there is.

        However, the art business does not escape scot free. It has spawned an army of lesser confidence tricksters to gobble up the crumbs from its table. These are the liggers, dressed fashionably to gain admission and armed with every manner of excuse to get past the ‘door whores’, as they contemptuously call gallery security. Once in, they descend in swarms upon the champagne and canapes provided by the flustered gallery owners of Cork Street.

        These peripatetic party animals will also happily spread their wings to take in Park Lane, Bond Street, Knightsbridge, Hackney and Shoreditch … occasionally migrating further, to gate-crash international art events like the Venice Biennale.

        In ‘Liggers and Dreamers’ these ‘natural born liggers’ are observed at close quarters. They eat the art racketeers’ salt whilst they ungratefully sneer at the inflatedly-priced, and often ludicrous, artifacts that are on display in art’s temples where its modern money-changers wheel and deal in art’s currency – as volatile as the stock exchange and as subject to the fluctuating whims of oligarchs and criminals…

        Vainly the threatened gallery owners compile a ‘Liggers’ List’ complete with names and identifying photographs in order to exclude Josie Demuth’s colourful tribe of ne’er-do-wells from their plutocratic portals.

        ‘The List’ is widely circulated and hopes to banish them from every gallery and every cultural centre in the West End. But the liggers are not easily outwitted. They can gain admission anywhere: to the ‘Everests’ of the art world -celeb-infested parties at Christies and Sothebys, for example – through their resourceful acquisition of genuine art buyers’ business cards. Then will strip any location like locusts. 

        ‘Liggers and Dreamers’ is surely karma in motion with its cast of picaresquely outrageous characters, whose life-skills are channeled into living on their wits and for the moment.

        The roll-call of colourful characters in Josie Demuth’s novel (surely a roman a clef and all the better for that) includes a seventy year old female alcoholic who collapses on the Gallery’s drinks table at its rarefied Private Views “with a snore that’s off the Richter scale” and mad dandies in Siberian wolf fur-coats – indispensible for gaining admission to that exhibitionist world.

        Demuth’s liggers turn idleness into an art form. In real life of course they’d be a running nightmare, but on the page they are fascinating and funny. Their gate-crashing strategies are sophisticated and a reader anxious for a free night out could find them (and the accompanying chutzpah that’s necessary to carry them off) helpful. To Cork Street, however, such liggers are all lepers.

        Josie Demuth’s  ‘Liggers & Dreamers’ are a gang to be savoured; a reincarnation of the proto-punks and pre-Goths who hung round Warhol’s factory in the sixties. Peripheral they may be, but they nonetheless contribute to the zeitgeist. They display the idler’s zest for living and add to the gaiety of nations.

        When one of them is challenged at the entrance to a smart gallery and is told that he’s “not on the guest list” but is on ‘The List’ he retorts that the latter is “your stupid little index of human beings who come to fill your otherwise sterile space, and, on arrival, need to drown their sorrows over the downfall of British culture.”

        This gang of idlers; these natural born liggers;  these luftmensch, living on air, don’t limit themselves to London. They conquer Switzerland and then they conquer  Venice. They free-load through Europe. Though they may be bit-part players and though they may attract the same sulky opprobrium from stuffed-shirts as do ‘benefit scroungers’ they seem much happier than the principal actors in the art world and they certainly have more fun.

        As befits a portrait of an aesthetic dystopia  ‘Liggers & Dreamers’ is beautifully written.



Third Edition of A Thousand Salt Kisses

A Thousand Salt Kisses (Third Edition) is being launched this August 2020 as a special summer treat. Because who doesn’t need a little eco-mermance in their life right now? It has had a little beautification inside n out (check out the divine new cover), but is basicaly the same book. It will be available on Amazon and iBooks in paperback and ebook format.

Request an ARC on Netgalley

cover final paperback
hi rez cover final


New Book

Presenting SPRING MAIDEN… an Arthurian love square based on the Tennyson Poem ‘Lady of Shallot’…

Updates now exclusively on Wattpad…

All the GIFs…


‘Under The Sea’ Writing Contest 2018

Mermaids! Salties! Be-Llyr-vers! Maidens!

Josie Demuth and Debra Goelz’s ‘Under the Sea’ writing contest is back for the fourth year running, and it’s bigger, better, and shinier than ever! Oh, and spoiler alert: The celebrity judge this year is a New York Times Bestselling YA author whose upcoming fish tale has all at the UTS towers reeling with excitement!

sea mystical view

We cannot wait to read your briny tales of Adventure, Romance, Horror, Mystery, Sci-fi, or even Self-help!

Joking! As much as we could all benefit from your pearls of undersea wisdom, no self-help this year. But any of the others would be great!

Here are the Rules:

a. Your protagonist, love interest, or antagonist can be a merperson OR your story may simply be set under the sea (but please make it a little bit magical).

b. While your story can be any length, the judges will only consider the first 2,000 words in making their decisions. If your story is the beginning of a longer work, please provide a short synopsis. (It won’t count in the word limit.)

c. Entries are due by August 31st. Finalists announced September 7th. Winner crowned September 14th.

d. Stories can be new creations or not. They can be tales you entered in previous years as long as you’ve made substantive edits since then.

Who Are the Judges?

Prepare for a gigantic splash as we reveal this year’s panel of awesome and dazzling judges …

For the first round:

The Hosts: 


Former winners of the ‘Under The Sea’ contest:

Kristin Jacques (krazydiamond) – Winner 2015 – Two-time Watty winner who has published stories in multiple anthologies and has an upcoming fantasy novel with Sky Forest Press.

Tiffany Daune (TiffanyDaune) – Winner 2016 – Her Siren Chronicles trilogy was published by Oftomes Publishing and is soon to become a game on Chapters.

Christine Owen (Christine_Owen) – Winner 2017. Her story Home School Hair was published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster in the anthology Once Upon Now.

Mermaid Enthusiast and all-around amazing author:

SJMoquin (Skeaks7) – A Wattpad featured author who writes fantasy and science fiction with a mix of adventure, action, and sweet romance.

For the win:

Under The Sea Writing Contest2018 Danielle


1. The six finalists can pick from a range of prizes, including a chapter edit by Debra or Josie, a mer-extravaganza book bundle or a beautiful mer-mug. They will all also receive a simultaneous shout-out on social media from the judges.

2. The winner’s story will receive the golden “Under the Sea Badge”, a tsunami-style shout out from the judges both on here and on their social media platforms (reaching hundreds of thousands of readers), and will be included on Wattpad’s “Stories Under The Sea” reading list.

To Enter:

If you are not on Wattpad, simply send your story, or a link to your story to

If you are on Wattpad tag your stories #UnderTheSea2018. And make sure you follow Josie and Britt!

May the cods always be in your favour!


A Thousand Salt Kisses Forever

salt kisses three books

Yup, delighted to say all three ‘Salt Kisses’ books are now published with Wise Ink. It’s been such a wonderful experience turning these books from the serials into these polished and beautifully covered stand alones!

Buy everywhere, or get it bit by bit on leading fiction all Radish Fiction!

Here’s the synopsis ….

Crystal White, formerly an ordinary human, is back together with her true love: the handsome, charming mer-prince Llyr. Granted supernatural abilities of her own that will allow her to live underwater, Crystal finally seems to have a shot at happiness with the man she’s waited for so long.

However, new obstacles both below and above the ocean stand in their way. The mers in Llyr’s undersea domain are becoming increasingly discontented by their relationship, and ancient denizens of the Black Seas are using it as an excuse to wage war. On shore, Crystal’s human friends learn of her secret love for the mer-prince, sending shockwaves across the land and sea.

With social pressures surrounding her above and all-too-physical threats lurking in the waters below, Crystal finds herself increasingly torn between two worlds. Will she and Llyr together conquer the dangers in their way, or will Crystal once more have to say farewell to her love below the waves?


Barnes and Noble



ATSKL is launched…

…and to celebrate book one is going for just $1.99 on kindle during launch week. Cos I’m nice like that 😉


Paperbacks are also out should you wish to fill your stockings with mermance.



ATSK – what the blogs say…




Had a great time chattering on the panel at the Wattpad LonCon2015, all courtesy of lovely Slave Days author Vic James. The event took place in December at Foyles, SoHo.


Panel: (from left to right) Owain Glynn, Molly Knight, Amelia Scott, Josie Demuth, Rita S Kovach

Pics: ‘Most successful authors tell you how to do it’ panel (from left to right) Owain Glynn, Molly Knight, Ammelia Scott, Josie Demuth and Rita S Kovach

Panel (from left to right) Molly Knight, Amelia Scott, Josie Demuth, Rita S Kovach




New Book: Liggers and Dreamers

Salut salut! Delighted to say my short stories, originally published on The International Times website, are now a book.

Liggers and Dreamers, Josie Demuth, Thin Man Press

The Liggers of Cork Street are dismayed when they discover the existence of ‘the list’ warning London’s elite gallerists and art dealers about their freeloading antics at private views…


What they say about Liggers & Dreamers

“This year’s funniest adventure… A hilarious romp through the Art World.”

 Sophie Parkin, novelist and author of ‘The Colony Room’

“Josie Demuth’s ‘Liggers and Dreamers’ are picaresque, outrageous characters… They display the idler’s zest for living and add to the gaiety of nations. As befits a portrait of an aesthetic dystopia, ‘Liggers and Dreamers’ is beautifully written.”

Heathcote Williams, author ‘Whale Nation’, ‘Autogeddon’, ‘Royal Babylon’ et al

Josie Demuth’s new book is innovative with no time for baloney…  A very tongue in cheek, tickling and fiercely observed manuscript on an extraordinary scale about the liggers and dreamers of the London art world.  A well written story on how they make their way through London’s elite art scene … Liggers & Dreamers is a fascinating work of creative writing by someone with tremendous imagination”

Bunmi Akpata-Ohohe, Rooms Magazine, September 2015

“Josie Demuth has written a cracking social commentary classic for our times.”

Claire Palmer, Editor, International Times

“Ms Demth’s novella makes some thoughtful points, amid lots of broad satire, in-jokes and slapstick,” Dickon Edwards, Blogger, The Diary At The Centre Of The Earth, September 2015

“Among the champagne bubbles, the often cruel world of contemporary art is gently and hilariously satirized in ‘Liggers & Dreamers’… brilliantly observed with a deft simplicity of style.”

Geraldine Beigbeder, novelist and international art dealer



Hackney WickED BloggED

Was totally exciting to run the official blog for my fave festival this year.  I blogged in the build up to the event, now in its sixth year running, catching up with the organisers/ artists and musicians: You can read it here:
n here