‘I’ve never been more anxious about a book’

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Felicity McCall admits that her book The Pigeon Men, which hit the shelves this week was a challenge to write.

That change was more than met by McCall who has excelled with her latest offering. The book is published by Eve, an imprint of Guildhall Press dedicated to encouraging, promoting and showcasing the creativity of women authors and artists. In her book, the prominent Derry author takes a compelling and honest look at the journey of a survivor of sex abuse.

We meet Carrie as an outwardly successful, professional woman in her early fifties who is drawn time and again to the public gallery of her local Crown Court when alleged sex abuse cases are being heard. Through her silent observation, she relives and tries to rationalise her own abuse at the hands of her grandfather some forty years ago, and how it , and the secrecy surrounding it, has defined her life ever since.

“This is not based on one person’s story but based on experiential work. Emotionally I hope it’s honest,” the local author said this week, speaking ahead of the book’s launch.

Unsurprisingly, McCall concedes that it was at times, a draining write.

“There were points when I was completely absorbed in it but then months when I didn’t want to go near it. It’s a subject that has to be talked about and I felt a huge responsibility to the people who’ve survived. I didn’t want to gloss over the emotion. I didn’t want it to be gratuitous. I know it’s working for me if I can hear the narrator’s voice, when I can hear that voice I tend to get quite absorbed.

“I wanted Carrie to be as emotionally honest as possible. I think that was key to the entire story.”

The Derry based writer says this book, more than 
any other has left her with a sense of apprehension about what the public reaction will be,

“As a writer you’re always scared and anticipating the response to what you put out there, but I’m feeling that 
particularly this time because it is such sensitive material. 
I can honestly say I’ve never been so anxious about a 
publication but the feedback so far has been good. Some 
of the people who talked to me in the past have given it 
their approval and that’s all the validation I need. I 
feel humbled to have come a good way towards achieving that.

“I hope now that the book, coming when it does in the light of a number of abuse victims waiving the right to anonimity, opens the subject up a bit and I hope everyone in that position is given all the support they need whether they want to speak out or maintain their silence. I have nothing but admiration for all those people.

“The more things are opened up and talked about, the more progress we’ll ultimately get in addressing these issues.”