We are delighted to welcome the Ayr Writers Club as our featured writing group and Gail McPartland as our featured writer. Usually we feature a group from among those our members belong to and that group nominates a writer, who is normally a Federation member, to represent them. This time it was the other way round. When Gail sent in details of her writing experience and the launch of her new novel, it all seemed so inspirational we wanted to share it with all our members. Gail attributes much of her success to Ayr Writers Club and her story shows just what determination and graft on a writer’s part and the support of a writing group can achieve against all odds.
What follows is an edited (to keep the wordcount down) version of an article by Gail that appeared in the Ayr Advertiser and an extract from her novel Code 998. Please get in touch if you would like a copy of the full article.
For more information about Ayr Writers Club go to http://ayrwritersclub.co.uk/ where you can also see a report on Gail’s book launch and an interview with her.
Extract from article by Gail McPartland in Ayr Advertiser
Confident? Used to be. Good work ethic? Used to. Good public speaker? Used to be. Until I got Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). Years in bed, ill, pain, weak, shut off from society.
A picture on my bedroom wall. Two women at the beach. Who were they? What was their background? Where were they going? Anna and Maria, two characters, forming in my head. Pencil to paper and they became real. I had discovered an escape.
I didn’t know anything about creative writing then. Didn’t know about structure or plot. But I knew I loved it. I could go anywhere within my fictional world.
By the time I was able to socialise and meet new people, my confidence was rock bottom. I was far from well. I could take ill at any time and drop to the floor with weakness. The least amount of stress could bring this on.
In time, my health progressed. I took the step and joined the Ayr Writers’ Club. I soon learned that it wasn’t necessary to read out work, wasn’t necessary to participate in competitions, indeed, it wasn’t necessary to participate at all. I could sit and watch if that’s what I wanted to do.
It was good to listen to other people’s work and to listen to speakers tell us their journey to publication. And, eventually I began to participate. I received loads of constructive feedback without being patronised. This enabled me to enhance my writing skills and to produce stories that were good enough to be published and I claimed a few trophies along the way.
I’m now in my fifth year at the club and my first book, CODE 998, is due to be published by Yolk Publishing. This is a thriller with a dangerous romance with a rarely touched angle on the Holocaust. Ayr Writers’ have given me endless support and feedback. It is important to remember that we all work at our own pace. And Ayr Writers’ Club, helps us to do just that. It truly is, ‘A wee gem of a club.’
Edited from original article by Gail McPartland in Ayr Advertiser.
Extract from Chapter 1 of Code 998
Berlin, January 1943
‘Nadette, it’s for you,’ Margo held the phone out to me. ‘Not acceptable, Nadette. Not tonight.’
‘S-sorry, Margo. I’ll be as quick as I can.’ As soon as Margo’s back was turned, I spoke into the phone, ‘Hello, Doctor Eichmann speaking.’
An anxious voice whispered back, ‘Nadette. It’s Ariella.’
I glanced around to ensure no one was paying attention to me. ‘Ariella. What’re you doing? You shouldn’t be phoning.’
‘We have to leave tonight.’
‘Tonight? Ariella, that’s impossible.’
‘No choice, girl, we’ve got to go. There’s been a development since I saw you earlier.’
‘Oh no, what now?’
‘I’ll explain later. Get here. Quick as you can.’
Our lounge was packed with Nazis. And Kaarl was nearby, engrossed in conversation with another SS Gruppenführer. Escape was impossible.
‘I can’t, Ariella, I’m sorry. Can’t you wait till morning?’
‘No, it’s arranged. Ten o’clock tonight.’
Kaarl glanced over. I turned away from him. My throat was tightening but I somehow mustered the strength to encourage Ariella, ‘You must stick to the plan, go without me. Please.’
‘No. This is your chance. Damn it, Nadette.’ I heard a thud as though she had slammed her fist down. There was a pause before she spoke again. A softened voice. ‘Ten o’clock tonight, Nadette. We’ll wait for you.’
I scanned the room, frantically trying to come up with an escape plan. ‘I’ll see what I can do. But, Ariella, you must leave without me if I’m not there by ten.’
Kaarl was still talking to his old friend, Otto Schreiner, a powerfully built man in his early thirties whose thin moustache was as sparse as the dark hair on his head. He wore small, round glasses enhancing his beady, grey eyes. The tall men stood impeccably dressed in their grey, SS Gruppenführer uniforms with champagne coupe in hand, sipping the Dom Perignon, continually replenished by the housemaid doing her rounds. Their heads were tilted back, they had that superiority look.
I took a deep breath and walked towards them.
‘K-Kaarl, I need… I need to see a patient.’
© Gail McPartland 2017