Inspiring author talk for Holocaust Memorial Day

To coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day and linking with our School Book Award, the author Tom Palmer recorded a personalised video for our Remove students to watch in their English lessons.  The video will also be shared with Shell students over the next few weeks. 

Tom’s book After the War, which is on the shortlist for the Removes and Shells Book Award, is a fictionalised account of three boys arriving in the Lake District after surviving the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.  The books uses flashbacks to show some of what the boys have lived through, but also focuses on the hope that comes from the care they are shown in Windermere. 

Pupils had the chance to submit questions to Tom before he recorded the video, and in answering these, he spoke about how he didn’t develop a love of reading until he was 17, and even then it was through reading sports reports in newspapers, not moving on to books until later.  It was his developing love of reading that then led him to becoming a writer.  Tom also spoke about his initial reluctance to write about the Holocaust, but was persuaded by his wife and editor.  He showed the pupils his scrapbook that he created from photos and interviews with real-life survivors and some of those who were involved in the real-life Windermere project. 

Although the book is fiction and Tom created new characters based on his interviews, everything that happens in the book, were based on real events. Tom spoke about how important he thought this was, and how he feels that authors need to be careful not to give any ammunition to those who may deny the realities of the Holocaust. 

Tom also gave us an insight into the writing process, admitting that his editor had made him rewrite 80% of a previous book! This turned out for the best as it went on to win many awards. 

It was a fascinating talk and we are sure that pupils will have been inspired to read Tom’s books as a result and maybe even to start writing themselves. There is a copy of After the War available on the school’s e-book library for those who didn’t manage to get hold of a physical copy before lockdown.  The first chapter of the books and other resources are also available on Tom’s website.