Code 998: book launch with Gail McPartland – 4 May 2017

Cue a drum role; trumpet fanfare; organ toccata. Or perhaps, given the occasion, a Weimar cabaret number. Whatever, on Thursday 4th May, the place to be was Waterstones in Ayr where Ayr Writers’ Club member Gail McPartland was launching her debut novel Code 998. This haunting story is set in the Nazi concentration camps and is rooted in true events.

The bookshop quickly filled with friends, family, members of Holocaust memorial groups, AWC members, screenwriters, film makers and many others from different fields and locations. Local writer and poet Alison Craig chaired the interview with Gail, asking probing questions about her writing journey while struggling with the debilitating condition M. E. and also how she coped with the heart-rending research.

Gail invited Howard Singerman, whose mother was a Holocaust survivor, to explain about an online project to keep the memory and voices of Holocaust victims and survivors alive. He recited a poem he had written for his mother ‘Bashert’ to a hushed room. Afterwards Gail’s nephew Sean Cushnie told the audience about his experience of visiting Auschwitz. He spoke with evident emotion about a room filled with shaved hair and another full of prosthetics, false teeth, spectacles and other items belonging to victims showing how real these people were – not merely statistics.

Gail was happy to take questions and thanked those who helped her with the novel before a queue formed to have copies of Code 998 signed.

Without giving spoilers, readers would be wise to have tissues handy, but as Alison Craig succinctly put it: most of all it is a book about love and hope.

 Gail is donating a percentage of the royalties to the NSPCC.    

Barbara Stevenson

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