An Odyssey Of Self-Discovery
Posted by Literary Titan
Leaving Phoenix follows a young woman who heads west to uncover a family secret but the answers come at a terrible price. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this thriller?
The inspiration for my follow-up novel, Leaving Phoenix, came to me following a pilgrimage to Arizona to visit my sister. The magic of the Arizona desert, in recent years, has really hit me like a lightning bolt. Something about it resonates deeply with me––from the saguaros to the roadrunners, and everything in between.
The idea of creating an exciting thriller against that backdrop was entirely dependent on my coming up with an interesting character I could completely get behind, and I wanted to create a strong female protagonist this time out. I also wanted to make the story an odyssey of self-discovery and empowerment, and I wanted to have it take place––at least initially––in the 1970s. Once I had the main character established, I had to dig deep and flesh out her backstory and, in doing so, I decided to deal her a horrifically-bad hand of cards to deal with.
Once the timeline was decided upon and the backdrop (Arizona) was established, I decided to make her quest for the truth evolve during a soul-searching–and perilous––road trip to California. With “Point A” being Arizona and “Point B” being another very special place to me, the central coast region of Monterey County, California, I began my plotting. This required my doing an inordinate amount of research, to the point of procuring copies of vintage maps of all of my regions, as well as historical and cultural references to assure authenticity, as the story spans a couple of decades. Music plays a huge part in this story as well, thus the book has a killer “soundtrack!”
Phoebe is a character that I enjoyed following. What were some sources that informed her character development?
For Leaving Phoenix, the idea for the main character, Phoebe, came to me very clearly. It started in dribbles, really, but her physicality presented itself vividly. As I started weaving the intricate plot, this young twenty-something, Phoebe, became subjected to some pretty brutal truth-bombs, and it’s a piece of cryptic correspondence from a mysterious stranger in California that sets her on her quest for the truth and, as it turns out, brings her to the crossroads with great peril. The byline on the back cover of the book reads, Everyone has a past. How prepared are we to go there? That’s the task––and the challenge––I put before Phoebe. The result is a visceral page-turner, as well as a heartwarming story of redemption, with a most satisfying ending. It’s been called a high-octane thriller with a lot of heart, and something to say.
What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
In deciding to make this a “period” piece, I chose to have the story start in 1974. The reason for that wasn’t arbitrary, as there were certain plot points that were dependent on that period, as well as cultural references, and societal attitudes that related to it. As I mentioned, music plays a large part as well, and I created mixed tapes for Phoebe to listen to her during her journey. The song choices not only bely her feelings but serve metaphorically as well, and serve to shape her. I created several playlists, and even tasked myself with making sure the songs all timed-out accurately to the cassettes she created. There were several songs I had to seek out licensing for as well, and that alone was a huge challenge. As the story spans some twenty-five years, so do the references, and I did painstaking research to assure it was both convincing and interesting. Readers of Leaving Phoenix have mentioned how impressed they were with the research I’d done to create this story, and they loved the music.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
As the book was only recently released, I’m still trying to get this one safely out of the harbor. Some people have suggested that I might consider writing a sequel to Leaving Phoenix, as the characters were very well drawn. I may consider that, down the road, but if another lightning bolt hits me along the way, I may run with that. Sometimes lightning hits twice, or even thrice, as my debut novel, THE OTHER CHEEK, was awarded a Finalist prize in the Best First Novel category at the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. I’m also seriously considering adapting Leaving Phoenix as a screenplay, because there is an awesome movie there, plus the book’s cover is already movie poster worthy––not to mention the built-in soundtrack album… It’s the whole package! Stay tuned!
About Literary TitanThe Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.
Posted on October 6, 2021, in Interviews and tagged author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, Jafe Danbury, kindle, kobo, Leaving Phoenix, literature, mystery, nook, novel, psychological thriller, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
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