Joanie Schirm


Author of Adventurers Against Their Will - Two-time first place winner of 2013 Global EBook Awards: Best Biography and Book Trailer.
2nd book: My Dear Boy – A World War II Story of Escape, Exile, and Revelation – Potomac Books, publication early 2019 (for more information sign up at )
Adventurers Against Their Will is an improbable and emotional tale of a daughter’s real-life global quest to find the authors of 400 letters written to her Czech father while he was on-the-run from the Nazis during World War II.
Seven decades later, letters that traveled across four continents and were discovered by chance reveal an incomparable story about the power of friendship. Emotionally absorbing and meticulously documented, this story about unlikely adventurers is not just about survival. It is about the potential to create a better world, one letter at a time by transformative stories they reveal.

After her parents’ death in 2000, Joanie Schirm’s discovery of her Czech father’s WWII letter cache of 400 letters by 78 writers called her to become a writer. The founding president of Orlando, Florida-based Geotechnical and Environmental Consultants, retired in 2008 to work full time on what she thought would merely be transcribing her family history. As stunning revelations from the letters unfolded, Joanie knew she was given a higher calling for a worldwide audience.

The importance of Joanie’s April 2013 debut book as described by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:

“Adventurers Against Their Will is a brilliant and compelling account of men and women caught in the turbulence of war. Part insightful history and part family drama, the book leads readers on a journey into the past, answering many questions and posing new ones along the way. Joanie Schirm has made a fresh and vital contribution to our understanding of World War II’s impact on the lives of people in Central Europe.” –Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State

Adventurers Against Their Will puts a human face on history, highlight the importance of examining our past if we are to create a better future for mankind.
Adventurers Against Their Will available is available in English and in the Czech Language - published by Triton books in Prague. Radio interview at the time of Book Launch:

A companion book, My Dear Boy – A World War II Story of Escape, Exile, and Revelation tells the story of Schirm’s Czech father’s escape from the Nazis after their occupation of his homeland. In a heartwrenching whirlwind adventure, he describes his flight across five continents, his courtship with the author’s mother in China, and a secret wish that transforms his life and will change yours. (Potomac Books, publication early 2019).

Joanie Schirm is an award-winning writer, photographer, community activist, and retired award-winning businesswoman. Joanie lectures in classrooms throughout America and Europe. Adventurers Against Their Will is recommended reading for high school students by Florida Department of Education's Just Read, Florida, the National World War II Museum, and the International Tracing Service in Germany. While President of Geotechnical and Environmental Consultants, she became internationally known for her volunteer leadership role of Orlando’s hosting of FIFA’s World Cup USA 1994. A proud parent of two adult children, Kelly and Derick, Joanie lives in Orlando with her husband, Roger Neiswender.

Smashwords Interview

When did you first start writing?
Around four years old on yellowed, cheap paper with big wood chunks still raw in the paper sheet. Padi, my grandfather, had an old wooden writing board he'd made, which I still have, where I spent time drawing circles and faces before I'd squirm away to go swimming in our salt water pool on the Florida island where I grew up. Not until January 2008 did I start writing 'for real" so that five years later I could announce: I'm an author!
What's the story behind your latest book?
From the discovery of a treasure trove of 400 World War II letters that my Czech-American father hid away after the war, comes a gripping, thoughtful, funny, sad, uplifting, inspiring, exotic tale of seven of the letter writers. Friends and family writing from places like Great Britain, France, China, Nazi-occupied Bohemia, USA, and Ecuador detail their circumstances in letters that reached my father as he traveled through five continents seeking safe harbor. Taking a side of the story seldom told of the Nazi-caused disruption of millions of lives, the story encompasses both vast geopolitical settings and intimately personal dimensions of the lives of seven displaced persons and what it took to rebuild lives after the war.

In my quest to locate the writers or their descendants around the world, I found I'd been given by my father the gift to bring the writers to life. I could give them a final say in what it was like when humanity turned a blind eye to human rights and dignity. Along the way I realized the importance of protecting both rights and dignity should matter to us all, every day and that became my message I also had the rare gift of getting to know my young father, the dashing young Jewish doctor from Prague who escaped the Nazis at nearly the last minute possible to China where he met and married a lovely American Protestant missionary - my mom. Their story is the topic of the companion book: My Dear Boy: The Discovery of a Lifetime.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Joanie Schirm online

Where to buy in print


Oswald Holzer in China as refugee 1940
Clip of Oswald Holzer riding donkey in China in 1940; refugee from his Nazi-occupied Czech homeland, Holzer served as a physician at the American Brethren Hospital in Shansi (Shanxi) Province - Ping Ting Hsien.

Book Trailer - Adventurers Against Their Will
Global EBook 2013 Award Winner - Best Biography - and Best Book Trailer: Adventurers Against Their Will


Adventurers Against Their Will: Extraordinary World War II Stories of Survival, Escape, and Connection-Unlike Any Others
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 86,540. Language: English. Published: April 2, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Cultural heritage, Nonfiction » History » Holocaust
2013 Global Ebook Award Winner: Nonfiction Biography Sorting through her parents belongings after their deaths, Joanie Holzer Schirm discovered an extraordinary lost world. Hand-written on faded and brittle stationary, stamped by censors, were 400 letters from 78 correspondents-along with carbon copies of the letters her Czech father had sent to them during World War II. An unforgettable story!

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