Category Archives: Fantasy Fiction

Erika Madden: Year of The Angels and Cries From The Fifth Floor

What happens when the sweet magic of childhood mixes with the grimness of war?   

 Erika Madden is the author of historical fiction novel Year of the Angels paranormal novel Cries from the Fifth Floor.

Year of the Angels is the type of book I love. Based on Erika’s personal experience it is a beautifully written story of a year in the life of a close-knit German family struggling to survive during the devastating conflict of Wold War Two. This unique book has heart, originality and is beautifully written. I read once that  ‘A good book entertains, a great book informs’, or something similar to that. For me, this is a great book.


Erika was born and raised in the small town of Mainbernheim, Germany. As a young woman she moved to the Pacific Northwest where she raised her family. When her husband retired they moved to Camano Island, Washington, where she wrote a novel, Year of the Angels, a firsthand account of growing up in Germany during WWII. This was a surprisingly emotional journey for her. As an escape, she decided to write another book simultaneously a paranormal thriller, Cries from the Fifth Floor. Both books are available on and

A member of the Hard-nosed Zealots Writers’ Critique Group of Stanwood/Camano (USA) Erika is a close friend of Gloria Mackay. Like most writers she finds invaluable the support and encouragement that exists between  kindred souls. As writers we manage to remain sane when we meet regularly with fellow writers who are prepared to give positive feedback on our latest project. Especially if we are trying to write about deeply personal issues and traumatic memories.


Erika, like so many writers deals with the death of her supportive, imaginative brother, Deiter who helped her survive the trauma of being a child in Germany during Word War Two. Right at the start of Year of the Angels  I knew that I was in the hands of someone I could trust with my complete attention as a reader. I was immediately fascinated by the story about her childhood in Germany during 1944 and desperately wanted to know what happened to children during World War Two on the opposite side of the world to my personal  experience as a three year old  child of German descent living in Australia . I knew first hand what a terrible affect war can have on fathers and how this impacts on the whole family.

What happens when people return in later life to the country of their childhood? ‘The deserted house welcomed an older Lisl and her memories were waiting.’ After marrying and raising a family in America, she found her thoughts were still in English, not German.

Erika’s childhood during World War II in Germany was one of deprivation and challenge. With the war effort of the mid-1940s, food, heating fuel, and clothing were becoming increasingly scarce, and the German citizens increasingly desperate. The Allied Forces were advancing on the small Franconian farming community where Madden’s family lived. Her father was away at war, and the future of her family uncertain. Madden called upon these childhood experiences as inspiration for her historical fiction novel, “Year of the Angels.”

“I didn’t want my novel to be just a war story,” says Madden. “I wanted to show the softer side of children and how they escape emotionally from the terror and hate. I thought I would show the war through the eyes of a child. I needed to write in the simple language of a child and of that time, minding not to let modern language creep into the story. Although written in third person and as fiction in consideration to the people living in my town, it is a true account seen through the eyes of ten-year old Lisl-me. It was an emotional journey to go back after so many years in America and experience the war all over again. To get away from the sadness I wrote a second book simultaneously as a relief and as far removed from reality as possible ”

I can’t wait to read Erika’s latest book Cries From The Fifth Floor available at Amazon as a kindle ebook or paperback


Why are the coma patients on the fifth floor calling silently and persistently to hospital worker Claire Reed? Why do they draw her–against her will–to their bedsides? And why does she feel their pain and unrest, see fragmented visions of their last conscious moments?

Claire enters a terrifying world as she tries to unravel the mysteries that tie her to the fates of five strangers. The Claire Reed of yesterday no longer exists and her erratic behavior has her questioning her sanity.


It’s a cold Melbourne winter’s day and a lazy wind is blowing straight from Antarctica. It goes straight through you. Best to stay indoors curled up with a good book. I’m going straight to right now to get my copy of Cries from the Fifth Floor. 

The Memory Healer: Julie Filarski

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams

(Henry David Thoreau) 

Writers are dreamers. How many have dreamt of holding their published book in their hand, but scratch any author and you will find a long history of trials, rejections, false starts coupled with tenacity and enough perseverance to make a marathon runner proud.


Julie Filarski is an author who knows all about perseverance She also knows the benefit of learning the craft of writing. She was writing the first drafts of her fantasy fiction book, The Memory Healer   in 1998 during a TAFE course in professional writing and editing. The manuscript was published by TWCS (The Writers Coffee Shop) Publishing House in 2014. It takes the reader on an exciting metaphysical journey of time travel, incarnation and regression. Once I’d started reading I couldn’t put it down. Instead of doing my chores I left dishes in the sink, the floor unswept and curled up on the couch until I’d devoured the last word. I’d highly recommend it for anyone interested in past lives.

the-memory-healer 2

The Mordialloc Writers’ Group with Mairi Neil at the helm meets every second Tuesday to workshop members’ stories, swap information about books, competitions and publishers, chat over coffee and support each other. Maureen Hanna brought along Julie’s book (currently available from Amazon Australia).  I noticed her name in the acknowledgements and could not resist asking Maureen how she’d become friends with the author.

Maureen met Julie in 1998 at Casey TAFE, Berwick, at the beginning of the first term. They were both part-way through a Diploma of Arts. (Professional Writing and Editing) With another member, Linda McKay, they formed a group within a group of writers studying Novel 2.

The friendship was immediate and class nights always ended at McDonald’s just across the road from TAFE. They also met each week and lived close to each other.

Julie was working on an historical romance, ‘The Pointer on the Way’. Linda had researched an ancestor of hers, murdered on the gold fields in 1870 and was telling his story.  Maureen was writing a fictionalised version of her childhood.

They began to workshop each other’s writing and the different styles of writing and genre made them all rethink their work. The result was a rewrite of Julie’s novel which became a paranormal/time travel romance set in the fictional town of Port Brandon, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia titled The Memory Healer.

Years later they are still very good friends but as Julie, Linda and Maureen now   live in different locations the chance to catch up is more difficult. However,  they manage it about five or six times a year and the friendship remains as strong as ever.

The Memory Healer

To give you some idea of the story…

On a wet summer morning in the historical township of Port Brandon, South Eastern Australia, talented artist and psychic Beth Montgomery reluctantly agrees to carry out a psychic assessment of Carrington House. She soon becomes frightened by a string of nightmares that could be warning her not to tamper with the metaphysical.

Despite her fears, she braces herself for what is to come and continues to unearth the secrets of the past. As soon as she enters the historical home, the image of a distraught Victorian maid appears, and then a young woman manifests on the staircase. Beth is transported to another era, where a magnificent four-poster bed, an engraved watch, and an exquisite ring evoke fleeting memories. When Beth spies a calendar, the date fills her with dread, but she cannot remember why.

Returning to the present time, Beth agrees to work for the irresistible Dr Matthew Jamieson, the new vet in the district. Each time they meet, memories of another lifetime flood her heart. She senses an eternal bond between them, but with two unfaithful partners in her past, she is reluctant to become romantically involved with him.

As her passion for Matthew intensifies, she regresses to 1895. In her past life as Mary Clark, she meets the darkly handsome Samuel Methven and falls in love with him on sight. But is he as honourable as he seems? Faced with Samuel’s apparent betrayal, Beth is plagued by fears that Matthew will also be unfaithful to her.

She knows that to learn the truth, she must return to her past life, but that means facing an unbearable tragedy. Does Beth have the courage to move between lifetimes and relive that dreadful event? Will she be able to discover whether her soulmate was faithful to his twin soul?

Intrigued? I’m sure you will enjoy this interesting and thought provoking story