Now I know it may a little thing, but the index has taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears so I now feel the need to share that with the world! This is my final piece of the jigsaw to actually create this my first published book and it was special to email it off this morning to my lovely editor Stephen Chumbley. The life of Joe Stirling has been so diverse, so complex, that the index ran to 6 pages, with the most bizarre combinations of subjects within one alphabetical section. Where else would you find Attleborough and Auschwitz, Screaming Lord Sutch and Salvation Army, Norwich Football Club and Nickenich, Travel Trade Gazette and the Three C’s Youth Club nestling together in one index? To give you a flavour of the amount of content in Escaping Hitler, I now reveal page 1 of the index!!! Please ‘like’ my Escaping Hitler facebook page to be kept up to date on publication dates, signing events and how to order your signed copy in the New Year. https://www.facebook.com/Escaping-Hitler-A-Jewish-Boys-Quest-for-Freedom-and-his-Future-1456106047996737/timeline/
I’m back after two weeks well earned break on the south coast of England. A highlight was attending the Liberal Democrat Conference and who did I seek out especially to say hello? Shirley Williams of course, whose foreword now graces the early pages of Escaping Hitler.
It was wonderful to see her again and thrilling that she remembered me and the book – she is very much looking forward to reading it. She sent her best wishes to Joe Stirling in Norwich, her past agent during her very first by-election in Harwich in the 1950s. She kindly posed for some photographs with me.
An update for those who are interested – marketing form completed and returned to Pen and Sword Books, index is a work in progress on my computer, appointment with Jarrold Book Department in diary to discuss February launch, Pen and Sword are taking the book proposal to German publishers at the Frankfurt Book Festival in a couple of weeks and I am about to contact my Koblenz colleagues to discuss signing in Germany during May next year. Very excited…..
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.