Our author today is Ilona Fridl. A word about the author... she’s always loved to write. She is a transplanted Californian who has lived in Wisconsin for forty years with her husband, Mark. She took creative writing and journalism in college and has sold short stories and articles to various magazines. Let’s welcome Ilona!
Thank you, Megan for hosting me today!
Where are you from?
I'm originally from the Los Angeles area in California, but have lived in Wisconsin for the last forty years. Still have issues with the winters around here.
It’s really, really cold here in Ohio so I can totally understand. Tell us your latest news?
I've completed my first three book set Dangerous Times with the release of Bronze Skies. The first two books are Silver Screen Heroes and Golden North. The first book takes place in early 1920s Hollywood in a movie studio that was taken over by gangsters. The second takes place in Juneau, Alaska Territory about a year later, when the Shafers flee from the gangsters. The third book is set in the 1940s and follows the next generation out as they deal with World War II.
I love a good historical. Can’t wait to read it. When and why did you begin writing?
I think my first book was a picture book about a snowman I did when I was four. I've always loved making up stories, but didn't do it seriously until we got our first computer.
Computers can be addictive things. How did you come up with the title?
When I first started Silver Screen Heroes in the Dangerous Times series, I heard the classic rock song by the Kinks, Celluloid Heroes. It's a song about the actors honored on Hollywood Boulevard. I didn't think many people would know what celluloid was, so I changed that to silver screen. Book two takes place at a theater/restaurant in Juneau, Alaska Territory, so I called it Golden North. For the third, that took place in World War II in Alaska Territory, so I was going to call it Alaskan Skies. My friend pointed out to me that for the first two, I had metals in the title, so for the third, it was called Bronze Skies.
Nice way to tie everything in. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Tom Shafer glanced down to Juneau’s airfield. “I see my cousin Hank has fallen asleep on top of the hood of the car. This is too tempting.”
Sitting behind Tom, Ernie Collins knew what the young Army pilot was going to do. “Damn it, Tom, don’t buzz him! I’ll get blamed for it.”
Maneuvering the small mail airplane into position, Tom grinned over his shoulder at Ernie. “Don’t worry. I’ll tell them I made you sit in the dummy seat.”
The early morning Alaska sun was well up in the sky. Below, Hank was stretched out on the Hudson’s hood and windshield, using it as a lounge chair. His white Navy uniform ruffled in the summer sea breeze, the cap over his face.
Centering the plane on his target, Tom picked up speed while dropping, pulling up just in time. He circled around and Hank was on the ground, his white cap rolling off on the other side of the car.
Laughing, Tom headed for the landing strip and brought the plane coasting toward the mail office, as he had done many times before he joined the Army Air Corps. The post office agent, Bill Wright, stood next to the door, hands on hips and a less than pleasant look on his face. “Ernie! What the hell do you think you’re doing? You know you have government property on that airplane!”
Tom hopped off the wing. “Yeah, and a part of the property is me.”
Mr. Wright started, then smiled and held out his hand. “Tom, it’s great to see you again. How’s everything in Anchorage?”
“Busy, as usual. But for once Hank and I managed to get leave the same week. By the way, don’t be hard on Ernie. He didn’t know I was going to pull that stunt.”
Mr. Wright glanced at Ernie, who wore a contrite demeanor. “I’ll let it go this time, only because Tom was one of our best pilots.”
Ernie sighed. “Thanks, boss.” He started unloading the sacks of mail from the cargo.
Tom paused for a moment in helping him. “Is Pam still working at Millie’s?”
“Yes, she is. Are you going to stop over?”
“I plan to.”
Hank stalked toward them, knocking the dirt off his cap and uniform. “Still doing those circus tricks, I see. Damn it, Tom, you practically scared the shit out of me!”
They scuffled, then threw their arms around each other, and Tom clapped Hank on the back. “My God, it’s good to see you. It’s been almost a year, with us not getting leave at the same time.”
Saying their goodbyes to Ernie and Mr. Wright, the boys headed to the car. Tom looked around and took a whiff of the new-car smell as Hank started it up. “Wow, this is a great car. Yours?”
Hank snorted. “I couldn’t get this on a sailor’s wages. I borrowed my dad’s.”
“Whew, the theater must be doing better now. They were still behind, a year ago.”
“It looks like we’re finally coming out of the depression, although even then people still came to the movies.”
“How is the restaurant doing? I heard Mrs. Hutton retired and went to Los Angeles to live with her son.”
“Jen took over the business end, and Aunt Amelia is our cook, and a good one since she was working with Mrs. Hutton all those years.”
Tom shifted on the seat. “I’m going to miss Mrs. Hutton. Anything new?”
“The folks are getting into stage again. Mainly at the insistence of your mother.”
Tom chuckled. “Not many can say no to her. I’ve tried countless times. I guess everyone will be at the theater, since this is the busy season, but first, Hank, can you drop me off at this corner? I want to go to Millie’s.”
Hank smiled knowingly. “Going to see Pam first, uh-huh. Don’t be long. Everyone is going to grill me when I get back without you.”
“Stay in the kitchen. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”
Nice excerpt. Who designed the covers?
Rae Monet. She is one of the excellent artists at The Wild Rose Press. She did my first cover and I was so impressed, I've asked for her for my other books. She also designed my web site.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to thank them for their support on my first series. I'm working on a new series of mysteries and hope to have the first one out next year.
Cool! When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
The eighteen-year-old that lives inside me was wondering who the hell that old woman was.
I know the feeling. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Do pencil erasers count?
I guess they can. What is your heritage?
I am an American mutt. I've got everything from Native American to a number of nationalities in Europe.
Mutts are good. Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?
My favorite movie is Casablanca and the scene at the end at the airport where Rick and Ilsa break up always leaves me a mess. Especially when he says, “Here's looking at you, kid.”
LOVE that scene. Are you a morning person or a night person?
Definitely a night person. My heart doesn't start until at least noon.
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Here's a little more about Bronze Skies:
When her plane-crazy high school sweetheart goes off to join the Army Air Corps, Pam Wright writes him often but is disappointed that he doesn’t reply to every letter. She’s lonely, hurting from his seeming lack of interest, and dances with someone else one Saturday night.
By the time Pearl Harbor is attacked, Lieutenant Tom Shafer has been home on leave, explained how busy he’s been with officer training, and made sure Pam will be waiting for him after the war. He’s also had a fight with the guy who won’t leave her alone after that one dance. But is it safe to leave her in the same town with this obsessed bully? How can Tom fulfill his promises to protect both his country and the love of his life?