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LEAVING PHOENIX

There is actually no reason Phoenix should be alive and breathing. There is, indeed, every reason for her to never have made it to ever see the light of day. Hers is a life born of violence, tragedy, and a series of true wonders. As an adult, she is finally learning her truth. After being adopted and living with a loving father, it is revealed to Phoenix that she not only has a biological family member still alive, but he very much wants to meet her. Thus begins the long journey to meet a man she has never known and the first steps to solving her mother’s tragic murder.

Leaving Phoenix, by Jafe Danbury, is the thrilling tale of Phoenix Laflamme’s extraordinary life and the past that haunts her. She is, in her own right, a miracle. The last night she saw her mother, Phoenix was an unwitting witness to her murder. She alone holds the key to finding the person responsible after twenty years. Small details–memories–are being triggered as she slowly tells her side of the story.

Danbury is a master storyteller. Phoenix’s life is nothing short of a miracle, and the intricate plot he lays out for his main character traces her life from conception through her fearless resolve to find her mother’s killer at any cost. Phoenix is a phenomenal main character and is a picture of strength and determination. The relationship she is able to form with her grandfather after two decades with her adoptive father is touching and quite amazing. In addition, her willingness to relive the past is truly a testament to her incredible strength of character.

The relationship brewing between Phoenix and Curt makes for a beautiful tale of kindness and hope. In a story that could be fraught with darkness, their willingness to help one another adds a sweet element to the story. Curt’s character is the perfect addition to Phoenix’s mission.

As far as thrillers go, Danbury has covered all the bases. Main character, Phoenix Laflamme is resilient, driven, and unshakable. Her mission to find the man who murdered her mother leads her down a dangerous road and puts her face to face with ghosts of her own. Cover to cover, Danbury’s writing packs a punch and hits all the major elements needed for a successful thriller–romance, action, heartache, and perseverance.

Pages: 300 | ASIN: B09BKQTWR4

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An Odyssey Of Self-Discovery

JAFE DANBURY
Jafe Danbury Author Interview

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!

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

EVERYONE HAS A PAST.
HOW PREPARED ARE WE TO GO THERE?


Born in a crucible, Phoebe has been living on borrowed time. Faced with a series of excruciating truths and a cryptic letter from a mysterious stranger, she becomes consumed with learning the truth about her past.

In the course of her journey, she finds that answers may come at a terrible price as she begins to witness an insidious evil and underbelly to her existence she could have never imagined.

– – – – –

From the award-winning author of THE OTHER CHEEK, a story of descent into a nightmare existence of abuse at the hands of a close family member, comes the thrilling tale of self-discovery that results after becoming embroiled in the decisions and lives of strangers.

When twenty-something Phoebe LaFlamme heads west to pursue further details of baffling correspondence filled with stunning evidence of a family secret, she has no idea of the danger she unwittingly chases. Can she trust the letter’s mysterious author? What else does this person know? Are this person’s associates as well-intentioned as she wants to believe?

And will Phoebe have any hint at all of the danger she draws closer toward?

LEAVING PHOENIX

LEAVING PHOENIX

Leaving Phoenix follows the journey of Phoebe and her journey of self-discovery. There are a handful of important characters in Leaving Phoenix; the main character is Phoebe, a young woman who has been raised by her adoptive father Pop. She is a strong, capable young women, who has an interest in cars and music. Her character is well developed and authentic- this is achieved through the use of dialogue between characters, her physical descriptions and her thoughts and feelings. Other characters are also important, these include her adoptive father Pop, her biological Grandfather Liam and new friend Curt. Last but not least, Phoebe’s two pets, a dog and a parrot, are also an integral part of the story, they are always by her side, and thus help to fully develop her character.

The themes of this novel are interesting, predominantly it is a story about self-discovery, learning about one’s history, family ties and developing a sense of belonging. Although the story is sometimes heart wrenching, there are many uplifting moments in Phoebe’s journey. Other issues delved into include domestic abuse, and abortion.

Leaving Phoenix is set in the U.S., spanning differing time periods and states. The novel begins in Phoenix in 1974, in what can only be described as an emotional setting. The setting is described in excellent detail, from the emotions it conveys to the sterile environment. The following chapters progress through a couple of years, and then jump to 1999 where the rest of the story is set. The setting descriptions are rich, with descriptions of the weather in Arizona, as well as significant buildings such as Phoebe’s cottage. Each setting is described with just enough detail to draw the reader into the story. These descriptions continue as the settings change as Phoebe beings her road trip – or journey of self-discovery. The chapters are headed with each setting to ensure an easy transition. Overall, the setting draws the reader into the story quickly, and continues to keep the reader engaged throughout the book.

Leaving Phoenix is a psychological thriller that takes its time to build up an enthralling character and set her on wild journey of self discovery that gives her, and the readers, an experience that is unforgettable.

Pages: 346 | ASIN: B09BKQTWR4

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A Guy Can Dream…

Jafe, riding the rails in southern Germany.
Jafe Danbury Author Interview

The Other Cheek follows Rich as he struggles with his increasingly abusive wife and his attempt to escape. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?

First, I’d like to thank you for your brilliant, insightful and thoughtful review of my debut novel. It’s so refreshing and encouraging to read an intelligent review written by someone who holds such passion for the written word, and who “gets” my book!

Okay, back to your question: The inspiration for the setup of my story was pretty deeply rooted in personal experience, truth be told. There’s an old expression that advises writers to “Write what you know…”, and that was the springboard for taking on this difficult (understatement) story. Rich, the protagonist in the story, is a freelancer in the television industry, which mirrored my previous career in the Hollywood arena. So, there’s that. As for the story itself, and the harrowing predicament Rich finds himself in…well, without saying too much more about that, let’s just say I have some skin in the game––literally––on that front as well. Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt…ahem. The setting, the characters, and events naturally unfolded––once I allowed them to––but that took considerable time to process. Liberating it all from a depths of my soul was the biggest challenge I faced in deciding to share the story.

Rich is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Writing the character of Rich didn’t require much invention, really, as he mirrored myself in many ways––not only professionally, but physically, emotionally, spiritually, and we had lots of shared experience. Rich came from a very loving and supportive family, as did I. His good character traits were forged in his upbringing, and I like to think that mine were as well. As the story has to do with a decent man who is living a secret life of pain, being subjected to a tortuous amount of abuse––both emotional and physical––at the hands of his supposedly loving spouse, Rich’s character had to plumb the depths of his soulful DNA to avoid responding in kind to the physical abuse. His childhood lessons were indelible, and the “boys don’t hit girls––ever” credo was adhered to at all costs. Plus, he took his vows seriously, and perhaps he took it all too literally. The cost was huge. Irreparable, really…

The novel explores abusive relationships and domestic violence. Was this intentional or incidental to telling the story you wanted to tell?

This story takes place in the 1990s, which––as the crow flies (?)––doesn’t seem like that long ago, but in terms of our lifestyles and attitudes, it was an eternity ago. By that, I mean, we didn’t have smart phones, the internet was just beginning to emerge, there wasn’t all of the instantaneous communication and technology at our fingertips, and along with that…awareness, it was lacking.

Domestic violence has long been a dirty little behind-closed-doors secret, really, and I wanted this story to challenge readers to reevaluate what they think they really know about domestic abuse. Rich’s predicament involved being on the flip-side of the “typical” domestic violence equation, as he was in that underreported (again, understatement) demographic of a male being physically abused by a female. He thought he was the only one on the planet going through that! Besides, who would believe him? With that well-kept secret, an immeasurable burden of shame adds enough weight to assure one sinks to the deepest abyss imaginable. It’s a dilemma and place I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and––sadly––it’s a place from where some never return.

I remember back to when I was a teenager, and my father recommended I read a book called Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl. This was some deep, dark––yet enlightening––stuff, as it dealt with his experiences in a concentration camp and his internal search for the meaning of it all. That, probably subliminally, was what I was looking for as I dove into the dark places I had to go in order to write this book. What would be the meaning behind it? What purpose could possibly be served by going through horrific experiences––whether they be in concentration camps, or as a prisoner of war in your own home? I figured, if the book touches just one person, then it will all be worth it. I guess my purpose was being a conduit to help with Awareness. I guess I was deemed strong enough to live through it, and to tell it. I needed to get it right, and necessary authenticity comes from that place.

Readers will also notice that I incorporated lots of music references throughout the narrative. The choices were very deliberate in not only establishing mood in some scenes, but also at times reflecting or belying emotions of the characters. I am especially grateful to Tom Petty’s estate for granting permission in the use of a song that was very important to driving the plot of certain scene (I won’t give spoilers here). I wish I could’ve included a two-CD soundtrack with every book, but that was prohibitive. It was challenging enough to navigate the licensing of the songs I decided to use, and there were several I had to let go. In the book, Rich interacts with “The Great D.J. in the Sky”, who is almost a character in his/herself. Readers have mentioned how much the songs added to the experience.

Amazingly, about a month ago, I was notified that this debut novel of mine received a Finalist Medal in its “Best First Novel” category in the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards! This little naked-making project of mine, the one that I almost kept stuffed down out of fear and uncertainty, is slowly finding an audience, is being embraced critically, and being appreciated for its honesty and candor. I receive letters from readers who either know someone who’s going through an abusive relationship, or have been in one themselves, and I feel for them all.

I hope my book comes up on Oprah’s radar, because that would take readership and awareness to the next level! A guy can dream…

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Well, I’ve been wearing many hats as I try to get this book launched and safely out of the harbor. Without a major publishing house behind you, it takes a lot of extra effort to get your book noticed, as I envision my book as a little baby sea turtle trying to navigate that Normandy Beach-like stretch of sand to find relative safety in the deep water. It truly helps to have some great reviews to help differentiate it from the millions of other books out there, and I really appreciate Literary Titan taking the time to review the book and interview the author.

That being said, I think my next book will center on a female protagonist. I’m still in the early stages of fleshing out her character and story, but I think it will be a worthy follow-up. And, not unlike my first one, it’ll probably have a killer soundtrack!

Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Facebook

He took his vows seriously. So did she. Especially the ‘Til Death part… It’s1992, and Rich and Tami have a fantastic future ahead of them as husband and wife: he as a technical expert behind the Hollywood scenes, she an up-and-coming actress. They both have drive and ambition and, knowing life isn’t always fair, are willing to tough it out to succeed. But is that enough? Does working in a town run on secrets and backstabbing doom any institution requiring trust and loyalty? On the outside, this beautiful couple present an enviable façade, including their ability to stick it out when the going gets tough. Behind closed doors, however, their struggle includes keeping the noise down so the neighbors aren’t privy to the pitched screaming, the hurled objects, and the soul-crushing cage fight happening next door. Complicating matters already far from simple is that the aggressor here is the 105-pound wife against her strong and capable husband, who is all too aware of the stigma surrounding “ordinary” victims of domestic abuse, let alone the male partner. Rich has no intention of being a victim, not in his own estimation and not in the eyes of a society with an aversion to weakness, particularly in those appointed to act as its protectors. Will Rich’s closely-held secret result in his demise or will he escape the cycle of abuse––and at what cost?

THE OTHER CHEEK

THE OTHER CHEEK: Boy meets girl. Girl beats boy. Just your typical love story... by [JAFE DANBURY]

Rich has everything going for him: a job for which he has been well-trained and loves, a family who loves him unconditionally, and a beautiful and talented wife. Rich has just one thing going against him–his beautiful and talented wife. Their life together was supposed to be ideal. Her budding career as an actress and his job as a trusted member of television production crews should have combined to form the perfect union. But all is not as it seems in Rich’s life, and try as he might, he can’t seem to crack the code to Tami’s mood swings. The not-knowing is killing him–literally.

The Other Cheek, by Jafe Danbury, is the story of one man’s struggle with domestic abuse. Rich faces the unknown every day since his marriage to Tami. He wakes and sleeps only according to her inner demons, and his battle is one for the record books. No one is more patient or giving than Rich. Time and time again, he chooses to face the barrage of insults and the physical abuse that seem to stem from something deep inside Tami’s very soul. Never knowing what will trigger an episode and always scraping the bottom of the barrel of excuses, Rich grows increasingly haggard and mentally defeated as he rides out one horrific day after another.

Danbury’s portrayal of a husband being abused at the hands of his seemingly less physically intimidating wife is captivating in every way. As I began reading, I wondered why the author chose a third person point-of-view. It didn’t take long to realize that the story is all the more horrifying from the outside looking in. Danbury does a truly fantastic job of drawing readers into Rich’s life. Wanting to reach out and rescue Rich, I found myself increasingly stressed and anxious for a positive turn–just anything to make his life with Tami more bearable.

As someone who fled an abusive relationship, everything about Rich’s ordeal hit home–from Tami’s fits of rage to her manipulation of his emotions and attempts to distance him from his family. Danbury’s writing is spot-on. Every ounce of fear, every second of Tami’s attacks, and each and every moment of Rich’s hesitation to share his experience with anyone. I can relate to Rich’s unwillingness to reach out for help, and I know I am not alone. Danbury is reaching an audience not often addressed in realistic fiction.

I absolutely flew through Danbury’s work, absorbing one of Rich’s emotions after the other and fearing Tami right alongside him. I recommend this book to anyone who has survived abuse, thinks they may be a victim, or knows and loves someone who is dealing with a controlling significant other. Danbury is making important strides with The Other Cheek.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B07YWC791R

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