My name is ILANA G Holloway. I defected from communist Romania in 1983—before their revolution in 1989, and I am a first-generation immigrant to New York. I am a political refuge, and I worked for 20 years as an architect in New York. I have a Master's Degree in Architecture and Urban planning. I was the Project Architect for the Time Square Tower skyscraper, working for Skidmore Owings and Merrill—under the name of Ilana Gavin. I live since 2015—with my husband and pets—in the Lake Chapala area, south of Guadalajara in Mexico. We are now Mexican Permanent Residents. Nowadays, I write full time. My autobiography—Life by Design-Tales of a Dracula Baby Immigrant— will be published and released later this year by Olympia Publishing in London.
Autobiography (in Romanian)
The book shows the contrast between the idyllic world of childhood with its elements of magic realism and the oppression and lack of freedom in the old communist system. Ileana, a privileged child who comes from a non-communist family. Shielded in childhood from the everyday reality, she develops as an individual during her college years, and especially after getting married very early to escape the glass bowl she was kept under at home. She lives through the earthquake of 1977, discrimination against her in the architectural school, and starts voicing her dangerous political views, leading to enough conflict that she has to leave everything behind and defect to the US.
Denied at first political asylum, she wins the appeal process and becomes a successful architect in NYC, where she ends up building the Time Square tower.
After finding the love of her life at the age of 49, she leaves NYC and with her husband, they move South a few times and she gets to have the joyful life of her dreams. In time, she recognizes the symptoms of social decay and economic-political tensions and moves with her husbands and pets to Mexico. She learns the language, designs, and builds a new house and undertakes with her husband the audacious plan to build the ideal travel vehicle for travel and discovery.
It is a story of raw guts, courage, and survival, but also the love of life, confidence, success, and strength of character. Meant to encourage people to create the life they want, not just dream of it, the book is a testimony that destiny emerges from the choices we make in life. Your Destiny is in your hands!
The Great Escape - Good Boy, Ingo Series (Book One)
Middle Grade Children
In book #1 of the Ingo series—The Great Escape—we get to know the character Ingo, who is the protagonist and mastermind of several contemporary adventure books to follow. A touch of magic realism provided by Ingo’s ability to understand human speech and the first-person mixed human/dog POV, together with a humorous and at times self-deprecating tone of the writing, make this stern and troubling subject an amusing yet educational read. Without being preachy, the book teaches new words, concepts, the idea of consulting dictionaries, and in general, solid core values.
Ingo grows to experience the effects of the draconian “Eastern Block” regime on his beloved human family. His daily activities, no different than those of a human child, all involving lots of human characters and very few dogs, continuously provide opportunities for him to experience life and emotions from a mixed human/dog POV. Ingo is NOT an anthropomorph. He doesn’t speak to people, but he understands what is happening.
With his excellent education and magical ability, the character develops into a reliable family member and a life partner for his young Master Lani.
With all the amusing consequences, he takes on the care of his human baby cousin DD (Dear Darling) and has a platonic crush on a spectacularly beautiful female of his species.
Together with Lani, they find an elegantly efficient solution for the big survival problem they grapple with. The book has a happy ending—as it should—and an aperture for future adventure MG Chapter Books to come.
Suppose you have a taste for whimsical, absurdist humor, and you don’t shy away from heavy, darker subjects like trauma and displacement, with a particular focus on family stories. In that case, you will like this book.
The book is funny and has about 28,000 words presented in 15 chapters. This Middle-Grade (8-12) and younger YA (10-14) realistic fiction books with spot B&W illustrations—beautiful old school graphite pencil illustrations manipulated digitally—is also expected to resonate with all dog lovers, regardless of age.
New York Finest K-9 Detective - Good Boy, Ingo Series (Book Two)
Middle Grade Children
In book #2 of the Ingo Tales series-NEW YORK FINEST K-9 DETECTIVE, we meet Ingo's gang of dogs and their children-owners in their adventures in the West Side Midtown of New York City where they live. The central stage of the story is Central Park and its surroundings. Lani and Ingo, in their routine Sunday morning Central Park walk looking for Missy—Ingo's sweetheart—whom they met two years before in the old country of Morania from where they defected, meet Jim, whose dog Missy has just been stolen. A second dog, female American Cocker Spaniels is stollen the same day in the park, both female dogs being registered to the upcoming Westminster Dog Show.
Lani and Ingo have the support of the NYC police precinct as Ingo had previously helped one of the officers to catch a criminal.
The children are fully involved in the search, and Ingo's dog-gang knows of Ingo's "gift" from a funny and whimsical story early in the book, considers Ingo, their leader, and joins him in the effort to search for the thieves and to find the stolen dogs. Lani—who is 'only four years old in dog years," is emotionally fully invested in the children's and dog's effort and provides guidance, supervision, support, and parental counseling for the team. Some of the children's parents get actively involved and help with their kids' plans.
The second stollen dog, Ginger, is found first, and it helps Lani and Jim understand why the dogs have been stolen. This provides the team with a valuable clue and helps them get closer to finding Missy.
Patrick, Jim's twelve-year-old son, becomes instinctively aware of Ingo's abilities and becomes his sidekick and trainer, leading to funny situations and increasing Ingo's ability to communicate with humans. The two develop a deep connection, and through initiative and bravery, get closer to saving Missy. Their emotional connection and communication lead to a great social project they initiate. With the help of Jim and Lani and all the kid's participation, they make it a success.
The book reveals the charm and the area's peculiarities, the resident's love for their town and the generosity of the New Yorkers, and their habits and lifestyle.
The events of the book are chronological and span one week. The full involvement of Lani and Jim with the children's and the dog's adventures makes them quite fond of each other. Late in the book, it's revealed that Jim and Patrick will have to return to Washington DC at the end of the year, providing foreshadowing for the third and last series' book.