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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘Writing The Velvet Prison’
A Guest Post By Sheldon Friedman

This time I am playing host to author Sheldon Friedman who, despite being rather social media shy, has stopped by to share this excellent guest post about his writing of  the first two parts of the trilogy, which will eventually collectively be known as ‘The Kane Family Saga’.

Sheldon was introduced to me by the lovely Samantha Lien of ‘Roger Charlie Publicity & Management‘ and it is her I have to thank for securing this thoughtful and very personal article.

Clicking on either book cover will link you directly with its Amazon listing

Read the official premise for both books at ‘Mailbox Monday

You can also check out those all important ‘First Lines


Image Of Author Sheldon FriedmanI was born in St. Joseph Missouri and I currently live in Denver, Colorado.

I am a University of Denver graduate and practiced law in Denver until 2008. I taught legal courses at the University of Colorado Law School, University of Denver Law School and Daniels School of Business at the University of Denver.

After leaving my law firm I joined a national mediation and arbitration firm until January, 2016.

I am also an accomplished playwright, having a number of local readings and productions. My play The Long Goodbye was staged at Denver’s Crossroad’s Theater in 2010.

My book, The Velvet Prison was named as a 2017 fiction award finalist by the Colorado Author’s League.

The beauty of fiction is it need not be factual and the writer’s imagination can travel as far from reality as he or she desires.

Image Of Author Sheldon FriedmanWRITINGTHE VELVET PRISON

Ideas for stories can be triggered in many unexpected ways, and once triggered may become an obsession until the story is structured and written.

In my case, my uncle had a choice to make. He loved the theater and acted in summer stock in his hometown while pursuing his career as a doctor. After his mother passed away he cared for his father. They lived in a small town on the Missouri river and every day he saw patients in his office and when the opportunity arose, he performed in amateur theater. We were extremely close, and I knew his main love was theater, but his father, my grandfather, did not support his desire to become an actor. In his opinion, a medical degree and a profession was a key to a secure future. Making acting pay for food on the table was a risk. When my grandfather died, my uncle had a choice to make. Would he take the risk or remain in the comfort of a tested and profitable profession?  Then there was his young nephew, your truly who shared his love of the theater and loved to write. On one side of the coin, I loved the law at an early age and paved the way in my education to go to college and then law school, or would I take a risk and become a writer?

Was there a plot for a novel here in real life?

Well, I didn’t take the risk. My uncle did. He packed his bags and headed to New York. He studied voice and acting. He auditioned for plays and musicals. He lived in a cold-water flat in Greenwich Village. He pursued his dream and he had a modicum of success. He did not become a well know star, but he made a living and worked in the New York and Hollywood for many years. Although I continued to write unpublished novels and later, stage plays, I practiced law during the day, made a good living and my wife and I raised our family, but deep down I always wondered from time to time…

What if?

My novel, The Velvet Prison, the first book in a trilogy, and its second book, The Satin Sash (I’m working on the third and final novel) began with a young boy who wants to become a painter and his grandfather who raised him, wanted him to become a lawyer. Sound familiar? I set the first book during the depression; the grandfather was wealthy and set aside vast riches that were untouched by the stock market crash. The boy lived in wealth and honed his painting skills. He had the gift, but there was a twist. His grandfather died, and in his will he left all of his wealth to his grandson provided the boy studied law and became a lawyer. If he chose art he lost his inheritance. I added to the plot a sister who he doesn’t meet until many years later (no more spoilers), who becomes a well-known stage actress. The novel’s settings are New York, Paris and. London.

In The Satin Sash I added Ireland and Switzerland. Since I chose write my novel in America’s pre- and post-war eras, there were many colorful characters I wove into the plot and settings. I chose historical fiction because there were a number of historical events during my chosen time periods in which I tried to add color, diversity and excitement to my story. I was particularly interested in speakeasies and devised a plot element for my protagonist allowing me to explore the fruits of Prohibition. I felt I had a solid plot basis which made the writing easier. I did not outline the plot, but generally knew how I wanted it to develop. Each character had a purpose to fulfill and was used to forward the story. It is important in my writing to use each character as a part of the plot not just an inclusion in the story with no specific purpose.

When I completed The Velvet Prison I found it to be unintentionally autobiographical, in part. Perhaps it was for this reason I had very little writer’s block, I thoroughly enjoyed inserting my characters in real historical events. Of course the events may have occurred at a different time and in a different manner, but the beauty of fiction is it need not be factual and the writer’s imagination can travel as far from reality as he or she desires. The Satin Sash has the same protagonists responding to different historical events. The development of the second novel proceeds into World War II. The third and final book in the trilogy is post-war and will complete the Kane family saga.

Image Of Author Sheldon Friedman

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I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • This is why I love guest author posts! I enjoyed reading about the choices both the author and his uncle made and it’s interesting to see now where the basic plot of the first novel comes from. It certainly adds to the appeal of the series.

    While I agree in general with the thoughts on writing fiction, I always hope the historical part sticks fairly close to fact (or is explained in end-notes as to why, if there’s been a major change).

    • Hi Kelly,

      I really enjoy a good guest post, particularly when it turns out that a story line is as personal to the author as this one seems to be.

      At first I thought I that it would make the telling of the story so much easier and more fluid, but then I wondered if it might actually impede the narration, for fear of giving away too many family secrets which might have been better left alone and in the past?

      I really like this particular sentence from the post …

      “It is important in my writing to use each character as a part of the plot not just an inclusion in the story with no specific purpose”.

      … How often do characters come and go in a story and leave me not knowing what they were actually there for!

      I totally agree with you about historical fact needing to be kept accurate, even in a work of fiction. Yes, reading fiction does feed the imagination and open up individual possibilities and outcomes, however it is still a source of knowledge and information for many, including myself, so factual accuracy does need to be maintained to a certain extent.

      A conversation which could no doubt go on for ages, thanks for the interesting comments 🙂

  • Interesting guest post and nice that he was able to practice law but still able to follow his dream and write. That’s cool about his uncle too.

    • Hi Naida,

      Back in the day, that would probably have been a life changing decision for Sheldon’s uncle to have taken, when he walked away from a stable career into the relatively high risk acting profession.

      He did do the right thing however, in waiting for both his mother and father to pass away, so that he would not be seen to be disrespecting their wishes in the matter of his employment.

      For Sheldon, as for so many other contemporary authors, life chances are so much more flexible enabling almost anyone to combine a wage earning occupation or profession, with following their more artistic dreams and then having the right to choose one path or the other, or indeed to continue combining the two.

      I loved the personal and interesting nature of this post and it was a privilege to host Sheldon here at Fiction Books!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, it is always lovely to catch up with you 🙂

Written by Yvonne