April 26, 2023


April 26, 2023

“Zach was very compassionate, very patient. He gave a thorough answer to every single question I had.”

Felicia Alford calls herself an author by accident.

She grew up in the shadow of a family tragedy that surviving relatives rarely talked about: A fire that killed seven of eight children in 1964. The story—chronicled in her book “Through the Fire”-- drew national attention in part because the father of those children was a Chicago police detective who battled flames throughout his own home to save his family. He was left badly burned and emotionally scarred. Despite his heroic efforts, he lost his children that day—all but one.

That one was Alford’s father.

She knew the basic facts of the story, but the details remained a mystery too painful to probe until 2017. That’s when she gained the courage to sift through a large pile of items Alford’s grandmother handed her in 2006 and walked away without saying a word.

She wanted to know more, but fear kept her from proceeding for two weeks.

“I knew that whatever I was getting ready to embark on would answer every question that I've had all of my life,” Alford said.

Inside, she found family heirlooms, photographs, newspaper articles, and journals that told the story of the fire in her family’s own words.

Opening that box sparked something in Alford that made her keep digging until she learned all she could about the time leading up to the fire and its aftermath.

In that story, she found loss and grief, but also a lesson, not just for herself, but one she believed could help others and give meaning to deaths of seven relatives, ages 16 months to 12 years old.

“It’s about the heroic efforts of the detective and what he tried to do to save his children …He didn't succeed, so the story becomes more about the will to live and about survival. It’s also about perseverance, having faith, and putting one foot in front of the other.”

Despite never having written in long form, Alford decided to dedicate the next year and a half of her life to the manuscript, writing whenever she could. As a single mother with a full-time job, that often meant lots of research and writing, sometimes from midnight till the wee hours of the morning.

She self-published the book in June of 2019.

“For me, the intent was never, let me write a book so I can get rich. …If I can tell my story and help even one person, then I’ve done my job.”

But as opportunities to adapt the book into other media came along, Alford pursued. Seeing the work rendered into a stage play or a documentary, for instance, would be exciting artistically, she said, but making sure that the practical matters of entertainment law were executed in her best interest was top of mind. In developing one of those opportunities, Alford was presented with a contract and suddenly realized:

“I didn't know the ins and outs of the business, so you need those professionals in your life when you're doing contracts and copyrights.”
A friend referred Alford to Ziliak Law.

Alford said she was immediately impressed with the care and attention paid to her and her questions during the Consult with Zach Ziliak, Managing Partner of the firm.

“Zach was very compassionate, very patient. He gave a thorough answer to every single question I had, and so I made the decision to go ahead and proceed. Things happened fairly quickly to my surprise.”
Alford’s plans to take “Through the Fire” into other media formats are still in the works, but if they come to fruition, she said, she will certainly be returning to Ziliak Law.

“Hopefully this is the start of a very long partnership.”

Felicia Alford: author by accident, Ziliak Law client by choice.

For more information about Felicia Alford’s book, “Through The Fire” visit her website at https://throughthefirethebook.com/


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