Monday, August 31, 2009

"Irretrievably Broken" & Irma Fritz visit Bookland Heights!

IRRETRIEVABLY BROKEN is the haunting, funny, and heart-breaking account of German ex-patriots Nora, Ruth, and Bettina Adler. The plot takes us across the U.S., to the bush country of Canada, and to a cold case murder scene in Germany as this multi-cultural family deals with diversity and racism. The novel is populated with unforgettable characters in a sometimes shocking and always unflinchingly honest exploration of the past. “Irretrievably Broken” was chosen as one of the top 20 novels by the online magazine, “Cold Coffee.”

AUTHOR IRMA FRITZ was born in Ukraine of German ancestry. By the time she immigrated to the U.S., she had already lived in five countries: Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Austria, and Germany. Ms. Fritz developed a passion for writing at an early age. As a child, growing up in post-WWII Germany, she wrote poetry and short stories, and immersed herself in reading the classics. Upon moving to the U. S., she earned a B.A. in English from Cal State L.A. After graduation, she spent some years working as press agent at various Hollywood PR companies. After moving to Washington State, she worked in banking administration and human resources.

Ms. Fritz continued to hone her writing skills at the University of Washington as well as other writers’ workshops. “Irretrievably Broken” is her debut novel. The work was ultimately inspired by a newspaper clipping from her hometown in Germany. A neighboring property had been torn down and a mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath, was unearthed. Experts speculated that a synagogue would most likely be situated beneath the foundations of the house she had lived in as a child.

Ms. Fritz says, “I read the clipping and promptly forgot about it. Or so I thought! But this discovery must have been burned into my subconscious. After I finished the novel, I rediscovered the clipping and realized how these facts had informed my writing. There, at the heart of a story of adventure and travel, of love and loss, was a Holocaust story, come to light after years of concealment, very much like the mikvah that had been unearthed so many years later under our former neighbor's house in a small German town where no one in post-WWII Germany ever spoke about such things.”










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“You must read this novel to truly understand the impact of what this amazing author has successfully written . . . This is a book that reminds us that forgiveness does not come easily and without a price. It is truly about a family that finds understanding and each other as result of their shared lives and experiences . . . I give this book FIVE GOLDEN STARS”
Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Styron, Shakespeare; the Russian novelists Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky & Pasternak; Graham Greene, John Irving, Michael Chabon, Michael Ondaatje,Cormac McCarthy; Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison, Dorothy Allison, Donna Tartt, Ann Patchet, Annie Proulx, and on & on.

Such incredible pain and joy to write! The characters “talked” to me for a long time after I finished the novel.

A book of short stories--with death as its common theme--I hope to publish before yearend. Next I plan to develop one of the short stories, “The Cat,” into a novel.


Brought to you in part by:
BUY: WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty , BUY: Wendel Wordsworth, BUY: Cynthia's Attic


  1. Welcome, Irma, to Bookland Heights!

    Your life, your book, your outlook ... should intrigue any reader. I know it does me.

    Can you share with us a bit more about how your background has helped shape your writing?


  2. Thanks for the warm welcome Diana & good morning to all Bookland Heights visitors!

    One of the questions that intrigued me so much when I wrote Irretrievably Broken was this: How does one generation come to terms with the crimes of another? And the other thing I wanted to explore are the secrets families keep. In recent years I've heard family members tell old stories in a new way, which made me realize that what was common knowledge was perhaps only a half-truth to disguise a secret. Have you had experiences like this in your relationships and how did you react to them? As a writer, I wanted to create a storyline with three generations to measure the affect on each. So there's Ruth, the matriarch grandma who has kept the biggest secret; Nora, her daughter, who became estranged from her parents when she went on a solo wilderness trek where she met & married Max, a Cree Native; and Nora's niece, 12-yr-old Bettina, who's come to live with her aunt in Seattle after the death of her mother. I was interested in how each of these women experience life as the family travels cross-country on a summer road-trip, a perfect opportunity to talk & share their secrets. The aunt-niece part of the plot stems from the fact that when I first came to the U.S. I lived with an aunt of mine in Los Angeles. Later, my own niece, Sheila Fritz, also came from Germany to live with me for a while in Seattle. So, I'd say that the Bettina character was inspired by Sheila. She was 14 then, a handful, as I must have been when I lived with my aunt! Still, most of the plot is fiction, especially Ruth's memories about the Nazi years in Germany as my own family did not live in Germany during that time.
    Ohh, sorry I've taken up so much space here. Well, give a writer an empty page & she writes another short story. What I'd really like is a dialogue. Let's talk & thanks again for the opportunity. Till later!

  3. Welcome, Irma! I love the idea of your three-generation storylines.

    Hope you enjoy your stay at Bookland Heights!


  4. Such a powerful premise, Irma. Each generation strives, I believe, to ensure a better life for the one coming up. But we're human and, well, things happen! Like you say, it's all in how we deal with the choices we've made and/or the position we have been left in.

    Secrets generally only "work" for so long...

    This is fascinating stuff!


  5. Mary, thanks for the welcome! In that kind of storyline, you can be in the present while you look back to the past & forward to the future. Enriches the writing! Recently, one of my readers contacted me after she'd finished my book. When we met she told me her own family stories. I was so pleased that reading about the Adlers had triggered such a wealth of memories & I felt honored that she wished to share them with me. And I was pleased to make a new friend, as I hope to do here this week on Bookland Heights.

  6. So true, Diana. Often people who've suffered through some trauma don't want to share their pain with the next generation, but as Eli Wiesel says, whoever survives a test must then tell the story.

  7. I'm so into genealogy, Irma, and have a keen interest in generational stories. Do you pattern characters after real family members?

  8. What a good question, Mary! Once my book was published, various family members attached themselves to one character or another, saying this must be me, or that's so-and-so. It's interesting how we always look for that in a writer's creation. I do it as well. When I read a novel, I wonder, is he talking about himself? is this the writer's ex? did they ever live in a pink house? It's so much fun to do this! In answer to your question, I think it would be most accurate to call my characters composites. Like a painter, I work from models, but take a bit from her or him, perhaps copy the way you walk or hold your head. Maybe steal a line you may have once said to me. I encounter a man on the bus who's cut himself shaving & voila, that little tidbit has made its way into my novel. I read a newspaper clipping from my German hometown about the discovery when a neighboring property is torn down, and next this becomes Frieda's childhood home. Inspiration surrounds us and writing is a little bit of madness. But, as Alan Ginsberg said, Don't hide the madness!

  9. This book takes 3 generations through the journey of their lives. As you read along you feel as if you know all 3 of them as well as their friends and relatives. It made me stop and think about the differences of each generation but I also was able to see how much their lives had in common. It's a wonderful book. It has comedy, joy, hate and most important love. It's a must read.
    Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

  10. Martha, welcome and well said! It's all about love, isn't it? Even when a writer creates a hateful character, the writer must love all of this character's hateful attributes or the character will be without dimensions. But more importantly, every story I write will include lovers as love preoccupies much of our thoughts and efforts. How to find it, have it, show it, keep it & how much it hurts to lose it. I remember this fellow I was dating back in college when I had started to write my first novel. He teased me, saying that my novel would surely be about love. Well, back then, I denied it. I was writing a serious book, I told him, about more important stuff than love! Now I know that there's nothing more important than LOVE!

  11. Hi Irma, Sounds like your first novel is a success, and enjoyed by different readers for different reasons.  Being a genealogist, I liked the generational aspect as well as the historical background.D. S. Snell

  12. Irma Fritz has written a novel of all times. The characters depicted and related remind us of a time that needs to be remembered and never repeated. Ruth and Frieda childhood friends remain close and the ties that bind them will forever be tightened as their friendship continues throughout the span of their lives. Nora, Ruth's daughter learns the true meaning of loyalty, trust and family in this groundbreaking, heartwarming and heart breaking novel of a time in history that is truly remembered by this talented author. I have not only read this book but reviewed it and recommended it to everyone to read. Irma Fritz has truly written a novel that everyone needs to read. Fran Lewis

  13. Dear Fran & Diane,
    Thanks for visiting and for letting readers know what you enjoyed about my novel. As one of my readers, the writer and artist Sondi Miller, says, Irretrievably Broken is a love story, a road trip & a confession. After reading it, she created a book trailer, which you can watch at my YouTube site at:

  14. Sorry I had to be away most of the day. Driving home, I listened to a broadcast on BBC Radio I want to tell you about.
    So, attention history buffs!!
    The broadcast was to commemorate the start of WWII in Gdansk, Poland. When Hitler invaded Poland, on this day 70 years ago, Britain & France declared war on Germany and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. When the war was over, Poland had suffered more death & destruction than any other country. Six million Polish citizens--half of them Jews--were dead.
    My family lived in Ukraine during the German invasion in that country, and they welcomed the German troops as liberators because the Russian underground had tried to kill them as part of their scorched earth policy. Well, this is a whole other story & another book I will need to write some day! Right now, I thought I'd share with you a few sentences from the Kristallnacht chapter, the night of broken glass, of Irretrievably Broken. In this chapter, Ruth recalls the night when, at age 13, she saved the life of her best friend Frieda, and witnessed the murder of Frieda's parents:

    Was that a scream? Ruth turned off her desk lamp and waited. In the dark, she made her way back to the window, lifted a small corner of the drape, and peered out. Nothing. Krause still stood in the same spot rubbing his cold hands. Then she thought she heard shots. She crept underneath the drapes and opened the window, just a crack. Voices came from the Market Square. Men’s voices. Singing. Shouting. Like a rally. From the living room came the sound of the gramophone and from the streets the sound of breaking glass. And Officer Krause just stood there and rubbed his hands. She wanted to run downstairs and tell her father and Herr Schmidt. She wanted them to get Krause to stop those shouting men, but she knew they wouldn’t do anything. 'If I lived at the end of the street,' Lina had said, 'I wouldn’t sleep so easy tonight'.

    Well, I hope all of you do sleep easy tonight and we'll talk again tomorrow!

  15. Irma,
    I am so proud of you. As you know I read your book and it told me so much about you. It was indeed a heartwarming story.

  16. Yvonne, thanks for dropping in. BTW, Yvonne reviewed my book on BookMasons (a site she created for Indie authors) as well as other book review sites, such as & goodreads. And most recently she started a site called to promote the writing of independent authors. But, most importantly, Yvonne is a writer of crime fiction. I read & reviewed her book called Silent Scream. Go take a look at:
    Goodnight all!

  17. I'm proud to say that I was one of the first people lucky enough to purchase Irretrievably Broken in Paperback from Amazon! Not only was I interested because I share the name "Nora" with one of the main characters, but also because the story of family, love and survival was beautifully written and wonderfully explored! Irma, you really did this novel justice and I truly enjoyed it and highly recommend it!

  18. Irma, your comments and those of your followers are just awesome! I'm learning so much about your book and about you...all good!!

    I just want to say this to other authors out there, Irma knows how to promo. This sample from her book proves she knows how to write. One of the hardest parts of being an author, I believe for most of us, is marketing the heck out of it once we've typed THE END and signed the publishing dotted line with ourselves or a traditional publisher.

    You find sincere yet valuable opportunities to "plug" various aspects of the book, other promos you've done for it, and those who have reviewed etc.

    We've had several authors at Bookland Heights who really shine in that area. Thank you for a little lesson on Book Promo!


  19. Diana, thanks for your kind remarks. Writers write to be read, of course, and I'm so grateful to my readers who keep in touch with me. They inspire me to work harder, to write better & to continue to get the message out to new readers. Thanks to all of you!

    Now I want to talk about one very special person: NORABEE. When I first published Irretrievably Broken on Kindle, Norabee asked to let her know the publication date of the paperback as she found the description of the book intriguing and wanted to buy a copy. Of course, I was inspired to try my darnedest to get the book out ASAP! Here is what Nora wrote when the paperback came out. (Yes, I kept her encouraging emails to read on days when I need a boost!)
    "Thanks so much for keeping me informed about the progress of the paperback. I'm happy to say that I just got finished placing my order and am happily looking forward to receiving it. I don't usually order books when they first come out - usually I wait to "hear the vibe", but something about the description, and of course the character that is my namesake, intrigued me and made me want to read it right away."

    You can imagine how happy this message made me, but not as happy as her next message. Nora wrote:
    "Just wanted to let you know that I'm almost finished with your book and I am SO glad to read it! It's wonderful! I thought of you when reading about Kristallnacht and shuddered about it being the anniversary recently - so tragic!
    This is a true multicultural book and I am enjoying the journey along with Nora, Ruth, Mary & Bettina - wondering what will happen next! You are truly a talented storyteller and I am so glad that I "ran into you" on Amazon, or I might not have known this book exists - I will definitely be recommending this to friends and family and I'm loving reading my name over and over - it's wonderful! Thanks again for writing such a touching and involved story - I'm sorry that it will be ending soon. You are truly talented - thanks again!"

    There is no more joy for a writer than a reader like Nora who doesn't want the story to end. Now, I wish to close this post with one of Nora's favorite quotes she attached to her emails. Nora writes:
    I love to read good quotations and I like passing them around. They can be really inspirational and I hope that you will enjoy this quote and pass your favorites along too!
    "We are all cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out."
    - Ray Bradbury

    Thanks, Nora, from the bottom of my heart!
    Now I have a suggestion. Why don't we all follow Nora's advice & share our favorite quotes! Who'll be first?

  20. What a wonderful endorsement of your work, Irma! I don't blame you one bit for saving Nora's review.


  21. Mary, thanks for popping in. Feel free to post your favorite quote. Here are some of mine:

    “If your daily life seems poor do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to be able to call forth its riches; for the Creator there is no poverty.”
    Rainer Maria Rilke

    “Finishing a book is like you took a child out in the backyard and shot it.”
    Truman Capote

    “Don’t hide the madness.”
    Allen Ginsberg

    “There is no greater blessing than that of being pierced through & through by the splendor or sweetness of words.”
    Edith Wharton

    Anyone else? Don't be shy!

  22. Irma, I'm ALL about quotes! I send a weekly email "postcard" with a quote from a famous or not-so-famous woman to a list of people who seem to really enjoy them. The same quote appears on one of my blogs, Women's Wednesday Weblink.

    If you or anyone else would like to be included on the weekly postcard to their email, just let me know! Here's the info:
    my email:
    the blog:

    This week the featured woman is Tina Turner!

    Your quote by Edith Wharton may just be one I'll use very soon!

    Don't you find quotes to be inspiring, Irma?


  23. Diana, loved the Tina Turner quote & signed up for your Wednesday weblink. Help yourself to Edith!
    Well, now you got me going with a few more:
    Toni Morrison: "If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet,then you must write it!"
    Doris Lessing: "Think wrongly, if you please but in all cases think for yourself."
    And lastly, Ayn Rand: "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me?"

  24. Wow, thanks for sharing this author.

  25. I share your awe, Lisa. Irma is pretty amazing!

  26. I'm finally back from a day of running all over the place. Thanks Lisa & Diana for all your praise, which makes me feel pretty special. This won't last long as my husband will return home tonight & to him I'm not the featured author of Bookland Heights. It's odd, but he doesn't greet me with "How's the wonderful writer tonight?" or "How's the up-and-coming author?" or "Did you get any movie offers today for Irretrievably Broken?" No, I get none of that! Also, I can't ever say that my husband is the guy who had me at hello, as his usual greeting is not "Hello!", but, "DUDE!" Why? I guess I should have never taken him to see the film Juno. Before he saw Juno, he used to call me Douce, after Irma La Douce, and before that it was Dar, from darling I suppose. His own name starts with the letter D, so it's no wonder he likes D names. What does this have to do with writing, you might ask? Well, he keeps me laughing & every writer needs some funny dude in his or her life!

  27. As I've had a few friends email me saying they stopped by to say hi but didn't leave a comment as they didn't have the time to create a new account, I'm posting as Anonymous as can you, my dear friends! --Irma Fritz

  28. I want to thank all my readers here for propelling my book sales on amazon's e-reader, Kindle, way up in these categories: Sales Ranking: 1,963 in Kindle Store
    #1 in First Nations Literature
    #1 in Native Literature
    #2 in African Canadian Literature

    Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

  29. Thank you, Diana, for hosting me as your guest author at Bookland Heights this week, and thanks to all of you who contributed to our conversation here. I enjoyed having a place to meet with old friends again as well as making new ones. So, thanks again to all of you for a great week!
    Now I wish to leave you with this quote:
    "The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
    Sylvia Plath

  30. It was our pleasure, Irma!!

    Please come back anytime...