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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 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


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 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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