Wednesday, December 12, 2018

On Heather Morris' public Facebook page, we learn more about the author and a second book planned about the character named Cilka

As the literary controversy over the Australian publication of  a sex-up Holocaust romance novel tailored mostly for female readers "The Tattooist of Auschwitz" continues to swirl around the publishing capitals of Melbourne, London and New York, the author of the book Heather Morris does not seem to be paying any attention to the public criticism her little book has been receiving from Jewish journalists, Holocaust scholars and revealing newspaper articles in the Australia media. 

Morris, a well-intentioned and compassionate first-time novelist in her late 60s who is not Jewish herself and by her own admission knew very little about the Nazi Holocaust or Jewish history before she got involved in concocting her make-believe concentration camp tale set in the 1940s of wartime Europe, continues to go on promoting her book around the world and giving interviews to gullible journalists and PR people and visiting a dozen countries in North America and Europe for photo opportunities and Facebook updates without once facing up to or replying to some of the more negative comments her bestselling novel has been getting.  
On her Facebook page, Morris ignores the very public criticism that has appeared in newspapers in her own country and the U.S, and Britain. As she gallavants from one country to another like a jet-setting literary rock star, she seems to be stonewalling and refusing to face the reality of what she has done -- writing such a lightweight romance about a very heavy subject.

She posts a positive Facebook update about a recent New York Times review of the audiobook edition of the novel, voiced by dashing British voice-actor Richard Armitage, that was headlined ''A Novel About the Death Camps, Brought to Vivid Life in Audio.''

Morris comments on her Facebook page: ''What a magnificent review of the audiobook! Thank you so much to reviewer Christina Baker Kline and the New York Times."

And she quotes this part of the review: "Morris works hard to convey the devastating reality of daily life in a concentration camp. Her compassion for her characters, combined with Armitage's riveting delivery, makes this an immensely satisfying book to listen to, whatever else you might happen to be doing (in bed listening at home or while driving in your car)."

But Mrs. Morris doesn't quote to her Facebook fans this rather  negative and revealing part of the same review by Baker Kline: 

 ''The relationship between Lali and Gita, with its progression from love at first sight to giddy infatuation to deep commitment, sometimes strains credulity. It’s hard to imagine that malnourished prisoners with lesions and shaved heads might have had the autonomy, impulse and ability to carry on a torrid love affair. The language of romance can seem jarringly out of place when contrasted with the starvation, mutilation and murder of thousands around them.''

Morris never once mentions or links to the negative headlines her book has received recently from major newspapers in Australia, America and Britain. No, her fans must not be told the raw truth and Morris must pretend she is living a kind of New Age la-la land of blue skies and rainbows -- and her fans eat it up, as their comments attest.

For example, Morris links to the Times review of the audiobook, but refuses to link to the sober profile of the book by Guardian book beat reporter Alison Flood in the London newspaper titled: '''The Tattooist of Auschwitz' attacked as 'inauthentic' by Auschwitz research center in Poland.''

Flood wrote in the Guardian: "When approached by the Guardian, Morris declined further comment." She told 'The Australian' newspaper in Sydney, which first covered the research center's report in a devastating article by veteran Jewish journalist Fiona Harari: "I have written 'a' story of the Holocaust, not 'the' story of the Holocaust. I have written Lali's story." 

Harari added: ''In November, Morris told the New York Times: 'The book does not claim to be an academic historical piece of non-fiction, I’ll leave that to the academics and historians'."

On Facebook, Morris gets all giddy when she tells her fans that the famous British novelist Jeffery Archer sent an "unsolicited" blurb for her book to her London publisher, writing: 

''Unsolicited comments from Jeffery Archer. Wow. He wrote: 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz is kind of book you lose sleep over, and not just because you can't put it down. They will be reading this book in 100 years' time. In fact, it may still be on the bestsellers list then'.''

On early August last summer, Morris updated her FG page to read: ''August 1 and I'm stoked that The Tattooist of Auschwitz has made it onto this longlist of best books of the year. If anyone cares to vote for it to be on the shortlist I would be very grateful. Some amazing company of famous authors to be in. Oh and here's the new cover with the Jeffery Archer quote 'They will be reading this book in 100 years' time'.''

But scholars will surely be debating Morris' storytelling techniques for decades to come, as more and more Holocaust novels and movies surface in other Western countries, not only in Australia but also in Germany, France, Spain, Holland, Norway and Italy. So much for that ''unsolicited'' Jeffery Archer PR blurb.

While Morris has always said the story is Lali's story and Lali's book, on her book tour overseas, it's all about Heather Heather Heather. Very little about the Holocaust, very little about Lali and Gita. It seems that fame of being a bestselling first-time novelist has gone to the author's head.

Newspaper headlines such as ''The Tattooist of Auschwitz attacked as inauthentic by camp memorial center in Poland" and  "Auschwitz researchers dismiss book about Auschwitz camp tattooist due to inaccuracies'' and "Memorial Research Centre says it cannot recommend 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' as meaningful reading, adding that it is 'almost without any value for use in Holocaust education classes' " and "Bestselling 'Tattooist of Auschwitz' love story blurs facts, experts allege" don't seem to get linked on Morris'  Facebook page.  Here no bad news, speak no bad news, seems to be her and her marketing team's strategy for communicating with the author's fan base. 

Ans this headline from The Daily Mail newspaper in the UK "The Tattooist of Auschwitz controversy: Author in clash with Holocaust survivor's son Gary Sokolov over 'mistakes' in international bestseller" never appears anywhere on Heather's Facebook page.

The subheadline in Lauren Ferri's article was even more damning. but Morris' fans never saw it: "Controversy has risen between author of 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' and the subjects' son Gary Sokolov. Author Heather Morris, and Mr Sololov have now had 'issues' over alleged 'mistakes' in bestseller and Morris goes after Gary's wife for making trouble over the move rights and Lali's actual first name."

Even a major Australian newspaper in Sydney ran the headline "Tattooist of Auschwitz distorting reality, say custodians," adding: "The administrators of Auschwitz have warned historical errors in The Tattooist of Auschwitz are distorting wider understanding about Nazi period."

Since Morris was born and raised in New Zealand and later immigrated to Australia for work in Melbourne, a popular New Zealand website ran this headline about the evolving controversy in the Australian and British media: ''Auschwitz Memorial claims 'numerous errors' in Kiwi's Holocaust love story."

The accompanying subheadline read: "A New Zealand author has come under fire for "inconsistent" and "exaggerated" facts in her bestselling novel 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz'." 

Morris also never posted on her FB page this book review from a travel website which said of the novel on a blog: "Indeed, the author describes terrible things: the evil and perverted Josef Mengele and his inhuman practices, the stereotyped SS dolts who supervise the camp's prisoners, the near death experiences, the persecution, hardship and defilement. And yet. This feels like a lightweight treatment of a heavyweight subject.''

Another book review which never made the author's  Facebook updates:  "Novels like 'The Good Doctor of Warsaw' by Elizabeth Gifford, 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' by John Boyne and 'If This is a Man' and 'The Truce' by Primo Levi offer the gravitas and insight that this period of history deserves. 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' feels more populist and rather lacks authority and congruity. It is however very readable'.''
But the Auschwitz Memorial center posted a negative comment on Morris' Facebook page which, to her credit, she did not delete: "In the new edition of "Memoria" magazine dedicated to Holocaust history, remembrance and education we have published a thorough historical fact-checking review of 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' by Heather Morris.'' 

''While her novel states: 'Every reasonable attempt to verify the facts against available documentation has been made,' it has actually not been made. Quite the contrary. The number of the factual errors, exaggerations and misinterpretations in this book disqualify it as a source of knowledge about the history of Auschwitz. The story of Ludovit Eisenberg deserved better.''

Mrs. Morris, to her credit, did not delete that comment from the center's website team.

Morris' Facebook page adds photos to illustrate her comment: ''Drinking slivivitz on top of a mountain in Krompachy (Lali's hometown) with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. A special brew, 80 percent alc Oh my liver.'' 

On October 30 she posted:  "It's been a crazy, busy week in Slovakia and Poland. Of course visiting Lali's hometown once again and drinking waaaay too much slivovitz with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are stand-out moments. I want to thank the many, many people I have had the chance to meet in both countries for their overwhelming warmth and friendliness. This truly is a special part of the world. Thank you.'' 

She added: ''I will be in Auschwitz tomorrow morning (Tuesday) with a heavy heart.'' 

Back in London again, she wrote, doing a bit of name-dropping: "A long 9-hour day in London today. Day started being informed I have been long-listed for the prestigious Specsavers National Book Awards. Then long interview with journalist for 'The Mail on Sunday' whose last interview was with Liane Moriarity; followed by podcast recording, one of the interviewers yesterday was in conversation with Ian Rankin.''   

About the TV series that is maybe in the works and maybe not, Heather noted on FB that one of her friends, Christa Stewart, had told her earlier in the year: "I had no doubt this TV project would happen, and I'm thrilled for you! (And secretly hoping they can attach Richard Armitage to the project somehow, he read it so well for the audiobook edition!)''  

Heather replied: "Hey, I've already mentioned it to the producers that I'd like him on board. I'm thinking he could play Schwarzhuber from the book and I'll enlarge his role. What do you think?"

And she added: "Thank you for your interest in the TV project. Making a miniseries four or six one-hour episodes will allow us to not only do justice the book but to have extra material added. I've spent time with one of the UK producers and the Jewish-Australian  screenwriter Jackie who has been engaged to write the script, and I love them both. Very confident they will do an amazing job and I am the script consultant attached to the project."  

A 2nd book, a follow-up novel 
about Cilka is planned for 2019

When a Facebook fan told Heather that she had ''spent a lot of time thinking about Cilka --  her story is just so tragic and I heard that you are doing a followup to the first novel with a new novel about Cilka and I look forward to it but will have the tissues ready.''  

Mrs. Morris replied: "I am getting in information and research about Cilka and my planned trip to Slovakia is to interview people connected with Cilka so I am so excited to be telling her story now, too. If my wonderful publishers have their way, the new book will be published in July 2019. I'm confident of hitting that deadline.''  


HEATHER WRITES ON FACEBOOK: straight from the horse's mouth!

In case you thought I was going to slack off and rest on my laurels of having one book published, here's my next project ...

@Echo_Publishing has acquired world rights to the second novel by Heather Morris, titled
''Cilka’s Story''
, the book follows one of the Jewish female characters who had wild sex with the Nazi SS soldiers in the camp ....from ''The Tattooist of Auschwitz.''
editor Angela Meyer @literaryminded said, ‘Cilka has really resonated with readers in many of the early reviews of The Tattooist of Auschwitz … Heather, too, hasn’t been able to get her out of her mind, and so is on a search to find out more about what happened to her’. ''Cilka’s Story'' is due for release in July 2019.


Is Cilka’s story also based on truth and research? Or is it strictly fiction?
Heather Morris Hi Shari. I have made 2 trips to Slovakia in the past 5 months and met with several people who knew Cilka and her husband. They have given me valuable information regarding her time in Siberia and my book will be based on this research and woven into a fictionalised telling of her story. It will be obvious what parts of her story are factual. She lived to be 78.
Lisa Brink Olson So glad you are researching Cilka's story. My heart sank upon reading the words "nazi conspirator" by her name. 15 more years of hard labor? Oh my. Heart breaking.
Heather Morris Little 'heads up' we are uncovering some amazing research in bringing you Cilka's story. I'm so excited about the direction this story is taking.
Chloe Webber Kimberly Laura can’t wait for Cilkas story already! x
Heather Morris Laura Kathryn you have to wait for me to write it first. On my way to Slovakia tomorrow to speak to the guy who will be giving me so much background to Cilka to help out. Stay tuned
Carrie Chapman The Tattooist of Auschwitz is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read. So glad Lale told his extraordinary story, we must never forget. The next book can’t come soon enough!
Kate Hastings Can't wait to read Cilka's story. My heart broke for her when I read what happened after surviving that hell. It seemed so unfair. So glad I asked you about her this week in Mt Gambier. Something I look forward to reading next year. Thank you Heather. ๐Ÿ˜˜
Tanya Chambers Great! I just finished the book and Cilka is the person I'm most interested in finding out more about. Her story seems so awful.
Rebecca McNab Can’t wait to get my hands on the next book Heather Morris and maybe even be lucky enough to have it signed by you ❤️๐Ÿ˜Š
Tove Stokkeland Just finished your book about Lale and Gita and cannot wait to find out more about Cilka! I am so happy that you are writing about her. She really stood out to me. Nothing about the 2nd WW was fair - and so many people suffered during and after. 15 yeaSee More
Susan Franklin So glad you are doing this, I felt an injustice was done by not telling more of Cilka's story, let alone her sentence.
Emer Peterson Thank you! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป Just finished reading and I have to know more about Cilka but google is not giving many answers!
Lucy Sharratt I have just finished the tattooist of Auschwitz and I cried when I found out what happened to Cilka. Such injustice. I’d love to know more about her and look forward to your new book.
Kathryn Louise Govier Thank you for continuing the work on this. I finished The Tattooist of Auschwitz 3 days ago and I cannot get Cilka out of my head. Sitting down with Google in front of me I made it my mission today to find out more about her and why she was charged and sentenced. I wish you all the best on your journey to write this book, and I am wishing July 2019 would come sooner.
Angela Arnott Just finished the tatooist of Auschwitz in 2 days, couldn't put it down...the most moving book I have ever read. Very cleverly written. Thank you for sharing Lale's story. Looking forward to Cilka's story.
Carrie Mathieson Nikki Falconer - Muir did you read the tattooist of Auschwitz Nikki?? See she’s writing a book about the girl Cilka that was in it ๐Ÿ˜ช out next year sometime x
June Jones Wonderful news, really looking forward to reading Cilka’s story
Marie Gebhard I can't seem to find much out about cilka what was her full name?
Loraine Charlotte Very much looking forward to reading Cilka's Story. Loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
Roisin Rosh Clarke Can’t wait for cilkas story
Carrie Hrabec Really looking forward to your new book. I can’t wait to read about Cilka! Just finished Tattooist and really enjoyed it
Peter Donn Heather - just finished your book. I just had to keep on reading. Truly amazing. Looking forward very much to Cilka's Story. The Holocaust was a terrible terrible thing. But it led to learnings about important it is to love each other and respect our dSee More
Susan Thain Atkinson Read the Tattooist of Auschwitz on holiday, most gripping story I’ve read in a long time, couldn’t put it down. Can’t wait to read Cilka’s story.
Clara Walsh Robinson Just put down the Tattooist of Auschwitz after only buying it yesterday. I had to finish it as was delighted you had included your research as to other characters outcome. As soon as you mentioned you were writing Cilka's story, I went on Google to fiSee More
Sarah Boshammer Ow I can’t wait for Cilka’s story. After reaching the end of the book I felt incomplete. I’ve never felt that way at the end of a book, usually peace, sadness or sometimes confusion but never like there was something missing. I will be buying it on the first day out. 
Also a movie of the tattooist of Auschwitz would be awesome ๐Ÿค—
Amanda Holliday Sharon Donkin cilka's story can't wait to read it.
Joanne Eileen Mallinson Zoe Norton cilkas story next year xx
Lisa Kirby Rachel Cilkas Story!
Dennis-Kathie Yoneda Can’t wait to hear Cilka’s story!!! xoxo k
Can Inac Those are great news!
Simone Rousell Can't wait to read it.
Kaleigh Hamilton Hannah Elizabeth Knight Domine Ashley there is a follow on book for Cilkas story ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป
Doris Tieleman Sokolov Christel Jagtman As you predicted ๐Ÿ˜‰ 
Emily Louise C Rebecca ๐Ÿ˜Š 2019b

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