Meet Ilona Fridl

Ilona and I go way back, and I’m delighted to welcome her to Sites and Stories today!

Why Alaska?

I want to thank Kathleen for inviting me to guest blog. I’ve known Kathleen for many years, since we were working out at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle. We both took the author path after we left and have stayed friends. I love her books that are set at OWW!

Book 1

I’ve written a series called Dangerous Times. It’s a three book Historical Romance that follows the Shafer family. The first book, Silver Screen Heroes, began in California in the early 1920’s. Addy Garcia and Zeke Shafer work for a failing motion picture studio, Majestic. They uncover that the business has been taken over by a crime family to make and distribute liquor. As they help the police capture the mob, they get targeted for revenge. As it ends, Addy and Zeke marry and run to Juneau, Alaska Territory.

Book two, Golden North, starts when Addy and Zeke arrive in Juneau. Why Alaska? Well, I wanted somewhere that the crime family would have trouble finding them. Zeke’s brother, Josh, escapes their brutal father and buys a run-down theater and bar in the Territorial Capitol and invites Zeke and Addy to come and help him renovate the building. Without giving too much away, trouble finds them in a murder at the theater.

Book 2

Alaska in the 1920’s was a frontier outpost in many ways. They just installed electricity in 1914 and they still didn’t have telephones. Telegrams were the way they communicated with the outside world. Juneau is snuggled into a shelf between the sea channels and the mountains. You can only arrive there by ship or plane. Juneau was starting to come into it’s own and talk of making Alaska a state was already surfacing in government.

I wanted to make the third book, Bronze Skies, a World War Two novel and looked into the early 1940’s in the still Territorial Arctic. I would follow the next generation of Shafers into the war years.

Zeke and Addy’s son, Tom, is in the Army Air Corps out of Elmendorf in Anchorage. I wanted to tell the story of the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands, Attu and Kiska. Not much is written about the war in the North Pacific and the research was interesting. Through the hero’s eyes, we see the military side and through the heroine’s, Pam, the home front.

Book 3

Here’s an excerpt from Bronze Skies:

None of the Shafers were about, but then the office door opened and the two Army officers she had seen earlier came out with Zeke, who looked shaken. Pam’s heart dropped to the floor, and she gripped the back of the nearest chair. Oh, God, did something happen to Tom? She wavered between running into the office to find out and waiting to see if someone would tell her.

Glancing at Pam, Zeke escorted the officers out the lobby doors before he made his way over to her. She gripped his arm. “What―who?”

He put his hand over hers. “Not Tom.” He took a second to compose himself. “They were here to tell Jenny that Chase was killed in Europe.”

Pam’s throat closed and tears misted her eyes. “Oh, no! Poor Jenny.” She started trembling and pulled out the chair to sit down. “How?”

Zeke sat next to her. “They said it was in an assault on Naples, a few days ago. They’re sending his effects back to her.”

If there is anything I can do, let Jenny know she can count on me.”

I’ll tell her. Are you going to be all right?”

Pam nodded. Zeke patted her shoulder as he rose and headed to the office.

****

A week later, the day before Christmas, a silent snow gently fell around the church where Pam and her family gathered with the Shafers and the Marshalls, and other friends and relatives, for the service in memory of Chase.

All that Jenny had of her husband came in a shipping box. His dog tags and mementos were all there. Jenny had been inconsolable when she found the telegram in his wallet about their baby. He must have been so happy, Pam thought But now…

The memorial service was impressive in its military traditions. Pam and her family sat behind the Shafers and the Marshalls in their church, watching the local soldiers stand at attention as the eulogies from the minister and family members went on. Pam glanced at Jenny, who sat between her mother and her mother-in-law, clasping their hands as if for strength. Pam’s heart was breaking for Jen and her baby. Far back in her mind, where she had sent it, was the awareness that this could happen to Tom.

As they left the church, the snow had ended and the heavens were clear in the crisp air. One of the young soldiers was playing Taps hauntingly beneath the northern lights that waved like a tribute in the dark sky. All the others, in turn, offered condolences to Jenny and the Marshalls.

The group of people silently turned, heading back to their cars, their feet making swishing noises in the white December snow. Pam looked up at the stars. Please, God, bring us peace on earth for the next year.

She found it hard to go back to the gaily decorated restaurant and work, but she knew the Shafers needed everyone to pitch in while their family tried to heal from this tragedy. This, certainly, put the letter about Tom into perspective. Worrying about something like that, when Jen has lost her husband… She helped shut down the restaurant that evening, closing it until the day after Christmas.

In the lobby, she peered at a figure in black in the dim light, sucking in her breath in fear it might be Vic as the person turned toward her. “Jenny?”

Jenny hesitated a moment. “Pam, I had to come back here tonight. I needed to find something normal.”

Is there anything I can do?”

Jenny embraced her. “I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. I never expected Chase―well, I mean, this was never in our plans.” Pam silently waited for her to go on. “Thank you for being there.”

Muriel came in. “Jenny, ready to go home?”

Jenny stood back and nodded.

As they were going out the door, Muriel turned. “Do you need a ride?”

Gesturing toward the street, Pam said, “My dad’s waiting for me.” Drawing her coat around her, Pam put her arms around both of them. “I know this isn’t a happy time, but may the Christmas Peace be with all of you.”

Muriel kissed Pam’s cheek. “Thank you. To you as well.”

On their way, Pam’s dad drove by the Marshalls’ home. The blue star in the window had turned to gold.

~~~~

Thank you for taking a look. If you want to ask me something in the comments, I’ll be happy to answer.

Come visit me at my web site: http://www.ilonafridl.com The books can be purchased at http://www.thewildrosepress.com or Amazon.  I’m on Facebook and Goodreads.

Thank you, again, Kathleen!

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12 Responses to “Meet Ilona Fridl”

  1. Ilona Fridl Says:

    Hi, Kathleen! I’ll be in and out and will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

  2. KK Bayer Says:

    Ilona – I loved Alaska the one time I got to visit there. Did you get to go there to do research?

    I’ve read the first book in your series and I loved it, and loved the setting. Nice job!

    • Ilona Fridl Says:

      I’d love to go traveling to do research, but, alas, the money isn’t there. The computer is the next best thing. Maybe, someone up there would invite me?

  3. Cherie Marks Says:

    Looks like you were very purposeful in choosing the setting. Your research shows. I’ve heard it is a beautiful place. Do you have a connection to Alaska? Visit or live there?

  4. Michael GIorgio Says:

    All three books are wonderful, and the sheer volume of research shows through. No false notes in the bunch. Excellent work!

  5. Nancy Jardine Says:

    I never made it to Alaska…yet. But you never know. I’d like to someday and you make it sound very appealing. Best wishes!

  6. childofyden Says:

    Really nice excerpt, Ilona. I admire your attention to detail in terms of your research! Way to go!

  7. Margaret Tanner Says:

    Hi Ilona,
    That was a great blog. Your series sounds great,too. I love World War 2 stories. Alaska sounds like a fascinating place, even now, to me, at least, it sounds like one of the last frontiers. I would love to visit but don’t think I could stand the cold.

    Regards

    Margaret

  8. Mac Crowne Says:

    Love the premise of following the territory through time. I have never been there myself, but have a good friend who lived there for years. Typical frontier woman with a modern twist. Looks like a very interesting series.

  9. Ilona Fridl Says:

    To the rest of you, thank you for your complements. I’m working on a mystery series set in Alaska in the 1920’s now. Hope to have the first book finished by next year.

  10. A. Y. Stratton Says:

    I enjoyed your excerpts. You’ve chosen a time period and setting that is fresh and interesting. Nice work, Ilona!

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