Tuesday, November 17, 2009
GetToKnowTheBook: Silver Screen Heroes by Ilona Fridl
When I first got the idea for a plotline in Silver Screen Heroes, I had to create some characters to go with it. I studied up on what was happening in Los Angeles in 1920. I know I had to have problems come up for the heroine, so I began to read. I found that tensions were high between the white Americans and the old family Mexicans then. They considered the Americans invaders and the Americans thought of the Mexicans as inferiors.
Addy's parents were caught up in a Romeo and Juliet situation. He was Mexican and she was white American. That was the reason they eloped to San Francisco and were estranged by both families. After Addy was orphaned by the earthquake, her mother's family took her in as their own. However, because she had features that looked Mexican, she had trouble with the American population as she was growing up.
The hero, Zeke Shafer, grew up in Indiana and as he said, there weren't many Mexicans there, but his father was a minister who railed against the “godless racial inferiors.” Zeke ran off from home because of the treatment he received from his father, who didn't “spare the rod.” At first, Zeke didn't know if he liked Addy for herself or to get back at his father and beliefs.
Here's an excerpt from the first chapter:
Zeke pondered their conversation as he headed for the laundry. He hoped he hadn’t reacted badly when she told him she was Mexican. He could picture his father preaching about “those soulless racial inferiors.” Is that why he was drawn to her the first day he saw her? This would be another way to defy his father, at least in his own mind. He held no desire to see his father again.
As for Addy herself, he was afraid for her, if her cousin was getting involved with the Giovannis. He knew he hadn’t heard wrong about them. There was no question that they were sent from out east to start a front in Los Angeles for their bootleg business. His roommate, Nathan Hayes, had overheard a conversation at the studio where he worked. A discussion about the financial problems at Majestic and how it was what the Giovannis were looking for. Now they were here.
He had wanted to ask Addy if he could visit her, but he wanted to sort out his feelings first. It would be better to sleep on it. He delivered the towels to the laundry, then headed to his auto.
In the women’s area of the crew building, Addy changed into her street clothes. She looked at herself in the mirror as she pinned up her thick curly hair, evaluating. She had some Mexican features, with the darker skin and almost black eyes. Zeke didn’t seem to mind that I'm part Mexican. He's better than some men I've known, who turn away when they find out my parentage. Her mind drifted back to her cousin Muriel, who seemed to have found someone who truly admired her in Tony. I wonder about his family. Maybe I should say something to Muriel.
With a last pat to her already perfect hairdo, Addy picked up her satchel and walked the three blocks to the structure that housed the shipping department. Boxes and barrels littered the building on the outside, and she wound her way between them to the big double doors. Her nose wrinkled at the strong smell of packing straw, excelsior and wood as she carefully walked to the office area. She waved at Muriel, then sat down to wait on a wooden chair off to the side of the busy warehouse. Muriel’s head bowed again over her shipping labels, her fingers carefully typing them on her Underwood.
Muriel, with lighter brown hair than Addy and a couple of inches more height, was considered the prettier of the two by most people. Addy remembered comments like, “She’s a dusky little thing,” by well-meaning people such as the family of the boy she’d loved in school. They'd put a stop to that romance. She couldn’t shake the stigma of looking Mexican. But Muriel had another beau besides Tony vying for her attention. So, at eighteen Muriel would probably be married first. Addy, according to her uncle, was too plain to attract a man.
Silver Screen Heroes is available through The Wild Rose Press. Author's website is www.ilonafridl.com