Sheldon Friedman was born in St. Joseph Missouri. He lives in Denver, Colorado. He is a University of Denver graduate and practiced law in Denver until 2008. He 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 his law firm he joined a national mediation and arbitration firm until January, 2016. He is also an accomplished playwright, having a number of local readings and productions. His play The Long Goodbye was staged at Denver’s Crossroad’s Theater in 2010. His book, The Velvet Prison was named as a 2017 fiction award finalist by the Colorado Author’s League.
The Velvet Prison Synopsis:
Against the pulsating back drop of a New York City in social and economic change, young Travis Kane struggles with his passion to be an artist painter, and the conservative demands of his strict grandfather, Barclay Kane.
His mother, unable to come to terms with tragedy, has taken Travis’s infant sister and abandons him, leaving their house in Gramercy Park, and Travis to be raised by the grandfather he adores.
Travis enters a New York speakeasy, with a unique idea, that will change his life, leading him on an exciting journey, meeting Manhattan’s privileged, studying in art in Paris and, finding his way to Broadway.
Meanwhile, Lindsay Wayne’s mother, seamstress, has a secret, and a passion. Her daughter will become a famous stage actress, and this is her focus.
Lindsay and Travis’s worlds collide.
Their lives will never be the same again.
One week before his tenth birthday, Travis Kane felt safe and secure for the first time since his father’s death. He stared at the burning logs, crackling and popping in the huge fireplace. The warmth from the hearth wrapped around him like his mother’s arms. He sat cross legged not able to take his eyes away from the dancing flames as the sound of rain pelted the library windows of the house on Gramercy Park.
Different aromas came from the kitchen, competing with the fire’s heat for Travis’s attention. Hannah Kane, his mother, was cooking supper. He reached to the floor and picked up his box of crayons. As usual he had been drawing and coloring. Today he sketched houses, with pointed roof tops and small facades. His lines were long where they should be short, but the images and shapes were easy to identify. He feared the warmth from the fire would melt his colored sticks, which were in short supply. He gazed through the large library window which faced the park.
He could hardly make out the sharp outlines of the spreading trees bordering the square, its branches a cover from the sun, the leaves rich and green. They sagged under the heavy rain and dripped, like wet clothes on his mother’s clothes line. He remembered when the weather was bad, his father was late for supper. Travis pushed his legs out in front of him. Sitting back on his hands he looked up at his grandfather sitting in a large overstuffed chair at the fireside. Barclay Kane had his face buried in the evening newspaper.
He was always reading something. Travis watches his gray beard twitch back and forth in time with the movement of Barclay’s lips. He would nod his head from time to time but mostly he shook it from side to side. Travis knew he would hear the news that made his grandfather cranky at the supper table.
He caught glimpses of his mother, bobbing in and out of the dining room, carrying in food in hot steaming plates. She did not appear happy, smiling infrequently. Something had upset her, and he rolled over in his mind things he had done the last few days that might have irritated her. He was sure he would think of something, but his grandfather needed attention.
‘Idiot!’ Barclay shouted. ‘Oh, that idiot!’
Travis stiffened, his heart beat rapidly. He looked up at his grandfather’s face, now a bright red. ‘What…what?’ he stammered.
His own thoughts of misbehavior vanished. He waited to hear what Barclay was about to say, because Travis knew his grandfather always told him the truth. Barclay did not treat him like a child. Through small, wire-rimmed glasses, twinkling, blue eyes mixed with flashes of amusement, Barclay peeked over the top of the paper, and Travis felt his grandfather’s love, just as he used to feel the warmth and love of his father, before he died.
‘Our president is a coward, my boy.’
‘What’s a coward?’ Travis asked, his neck prickling with embarrassment.
Barclay sat back, dropped his newspaper in his lap. ‘A coward is our President, my boy.’ His eyebrows arched as he smiled.
Travis didn’t respond.’Well,’ Barclay said impatiently, ‘President Wilson is afraid to fight… to take sides. Instead of rising up against injustice, he has stepped back. He refuses to interfere.’
‘A coward doesn’t interfere?’ Travis asked. ‘Does that make him a dummy…an idiot?’ He reached to the floor and moved his sketches, further away from the fireplace. His hands moved across the first sketch and lightly touched waxy marks left by his colored crayons.
‘Oh, leave the boy alone, Barclay,’ Hannah said from the dining room. She stood with her hands on her hips. ‘You’re always filling him with such…stuff.’
‘How am I supposed to learn, Mama? Grandfather knows everything.’
Hannah’s eyes rolled upward as she went about her chores.
When he looked back at Barclay, he saw he was picking up his pipe from a side-table. Barclay struck a match against the bottom of the table, and lit it. He looked up at the ceiling and down at Travis before he said, “You could be right, my boy. Yes, you could be. There may be a difference.’
A flash of warmth swirled through Travis. He had ideas, too, but his grandfather rarely gave him credit for them.
‘I suppose we should draw a distinction between being afraid to fight, and not wanting to interfere.’
Travis relaxed, having made his point, he smiled.
‘A coward is the former, a pacifist the latter.’ Barclay puffed at his pipe, in obvious satisfaction with his answer. ‘Of course, the combination of two makes an idiot! Our President is an idiot!’
The Satin Sash Synopsis:
After the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, American lives change dramatically. The Satin Sash continues the breathtaking lives of Travis Kane, Lindsay Wayne and Jean-Paul Renault with all the inherent dangers of the French Resistance, President Roosevelt’s live or die missions, and death defying action when German spies secretly enter the US through it’s ports. A wedding reception and the lives of Travis Kane and his family are thrown into chaos as America enters World War II.
The Satin Sash is set against the explosive backgrounds of New York, France, London and Ireland. Travis Kane becomes President Roosevelt’s tool in bringing one of the world’s most famous paintings to New York. Racial tensions surface. A famous black activist enters politics and an actress makes choices in the face of heartbreaking tragedy. A public enemy serves his country in wartime and a black artist becomes famous. When a baby is born the future shows promise.
With tension, suspense and surprising plot twists, we continue to follow the lives of the people we loved in The Velvet Prison.