This morning Joe and I were the guest speakers at the Crome Wine Circle. We spoke to about twenty members who were most attentive and totally in awe of Joe who told them about his life in Nazi Germany and how he managed to get out, unlike so many other German Jews. I took over half way and detailed a few of my research techniques and how I wove the results together to make a narrative whole. I took along my brand new promotional board stand with the finalised front cover – this is the first time I have displayed this, either at talks or on this blog. I am very pleased with it. And on my return home I found that my lovely editor has sent through the final draft, from which I will devise the index. What with that and me completing the lengthy and in-depth marketing sheet for Pen and Sword Marketing Department, it has been a busy week. Closer and closer to January…… please take a look at my Facebook page Escaping Hitler and please press ‘like’ for the whole page. This way you will be kept updated on publication dates, signings, special offers etc….. I took 5 orders at the Wine Circle!
Such exciting news – my publisher Pen and Sword will be taking the details of my biography of Joe Stirling to the most famous trade book fair in the world – Frankfurt in mid-October. The sales team will pitch the book to German publishers hoping to find one prepared to buy the translation rights. To have Joe’s story translated into his home tongue would be more than a dream come true! No guarantees of course, but many thanks Pen and Sword Books!
Wonderful news! We have been invited by Herr Gottfried Busch, Mayor of Nickenich, to visit during May 2016. Joe Stirling was born in Nickenich and named Günter Stern in 1924. His parents are still remembered by some older residents and their only son is held in high esteem. The plan is to load the car up with copies of Escaping Hitler and give an evening presentation to village residents complete with a book signing. I will work with a translator. During the trip we hope to arrange a similar event in near-by Koblenz, now twinned with Norwich, and to where Gunter and his mother fled on the morning following Kristallnacht in 1938. I will shortly be contacting the Norwich-Koblenz Friendship Association to discuss the possibilities.
I could not be more excited by the invitation and would like to thank Herr Busch and Jutta Hansen for setting up this opportunity to ‘take Gunter’s story home to Nickenich’. Keep following this blog and ‘liking’ the Facebook page for updates on the publication journey and book signings during the New Year.
Whilst out shopping today, we were delighted to come across a photographic exhibition at The Forum in Norwich, called This is The Place with photos by Katherine Mager. It featured super-sized colour photographs of images from Magdalen Street, one of our oldest streets and where Joe Stirling had his first Travel Agencies. The street features heavily in my book, particularly the Heritage Trust make-over in 1959 and the haunted building at No.19a. Joe’s first ever premises at No.71 is now a Halal Butchers shop and here is the photograph for your interest of how it is today…. and one to show how it was when it was Stirling Holidays in 1959.
I would love to share with you a letter to the editor, published recently in Let’s Talk Magazine, an East Anglian magazine from the Archant stable. During the summer I had responded to an earlier letter in the magazine detailing her wish to meet with Joe. I suggested I drive him to her home for tea and we duly turned up one summer’s day this year. It was lovely to see Anne so ‘star struck’ and Joe was on good form. Here is her letter – it seems we did the right thing!
Tea and a few tears with Joe from Ann Ramsbottom Little Plumstead, Norwich
Many thanks for publishing my letter re Joe Stirling (March). As a result, I received a call from Phyllida Scrivens, who is writing his biography. Now a firm friend of his, she said he and his niece would be lunching with her. Having shown him my letter to you, he was happy to come over for a visit to us.
Of course I was surprised and delighted, and they duly arrived. Joe had a captive audience as he recounted some of his experiences. It is one thing to read of the atrocities inflicted on the Jewish population, but quite another to listen to someone who, together with his family, had actually suffered them.
I had to tear myself away to be a good hostess and make tea, so missed some of the conversation.
Joe is a charming gentleman and thanked me for inviting him to our home as he is just an ordinary man. I couldn’t agree with him there and said the thanks were all mine as it was an honour. I had hoped some day to catch one of his talks and meet him then but never imagined I would be serving him tea and home made cake in our home. He complimented me on the cake and laughingly asked for the recipe.
I complimented him on his taste in shirts and he quickly asked how much I would give him for it. As Phyllida said, he was a businessman.
Both Phyllida and Gail, his niece, were warm and charming ladies and I am so grateful to Phyllida taking time out of her busy life to bring them on a visit to us.
My husband and I enjoyed every moment despite a few tears on hearing of some of Joe’s experiences on his trek to freedom. I cannot wait to read the book, to be published January 2016.
Could not be more excited! This morning I received a large parcel from Pen and Sword books containing my first ever type set proof of my manuscript for Escaping Hitler complete with the foreword by Shirley Williams. Now I have to work on producing an index and check the photo captions. Nearly there…. Beautiful drawing of boy running is courtesy of my talented sister Alison White. Looking forward to receiving a confirmed publication date in January 2016 hopefully in time for Holocaust Memorial Day. In the meantime if you can find your way to my Facebook page for the book at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Escaping-Hitler-A-Jewish-Boys-Quest-for-Freedom-and-his-Future/1456106047996737
and like the page, this will keep you updated on publication, signings, talks and how to get hold of your signed copy.
On Wednesday 22nd July 2015, Joe Stirling, the subject of Escaping Hitler: A Jewish Boy’s Quest for Freedom and His Future, attended the Graduation Ceremony Literature and Creative Writing students at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. He was my honoured guest, along with my husband Victor Scrivens. Joe had been an instrumental part in me taking the Master of Arts Degree in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction, so it was fitting that he should witness the grand finale of my efforts. As Joe’s biographer I was proud to show him off to my friends and colleagues. He and Victor sat in the front row, meaning I was able to see them as I nervously crossed the stage towards the Vice-Chancellor to shake his hand and receive my treasured certificate. A very happy day.