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Joanne Leedom-Ackerman | A Modern-day Romeo and Juliet— With Deadly Weapons Smuggling


Burning Distance
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman

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March 2023
On Sale: March 7, 2023
Featuring: Elizabeth West; Lizzy
400 pages
ISBN: 1608095339
EAN: 9781608095339
Kindle: B09X6225NL
Hardcover / e-Book
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Also by Joanne Leedom-Ackerman:
Burning Distance, March 2023
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1--What is the title of your latest release?

BURNING DISTANCE

2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?

A modern-day Romeo and Juliet— set against the backdrop of deadly weapons smuggling.

When ten-year-old Elizabeth West’s father dies in a plane crash over the Persian Gulf, her mother uproots their life in Washington, D.C. and moves to London where she marries a knighted British businessman who has two children, and Elizabeth (Lizzy) and her two sisters move in with their new family. While attending the American School of London, Lizzy meets and falls in love with Adil Hasan— but when Adil’s father, a noted arms middleman, is deported, Lizzy and Adil are separated. Lizzy’s family also has ties to French-German industrialist Gerald Rene Wagner. Little does she know that Adil’s family has ties to the man as well. When a member of her family is murdered in Berlin under mysterious circumstances, questions surface about Wagner’s dealings, and Lizzy reexamines what really may have happened to her father. All the while, she endeavors to reunite with her lost love, Adil, and reclaim the connection that was ripped away.

Set in the years before and after the first Gulf War, Burning Distance is a journey through family secrets and competing loyalties, contemporary history, and the dark world of arms trafficking. Jane Austen meets John le Carré in this cross-cultural love story and political thriller.

3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?

I was living in London when I began writing, and my children were in the American School there, which are early scenes in the novel and where we were living when the first Gulf War got underway. The location of the book also takes place in Washington, DC where I now live. There is as well a large backstory in Lebanon and the Middle East where I’ve spent time.

4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?

Yes, and I hope the reader will too. She is part of a family, and BURNING DISTANCE is also the story of a family.

5--What are three words that describe your protagonist?

Honest, smart, loving …and a fourth word, independent.

6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?

I did significant research on how arms are traded illegally and components of weapons of mass destruction are acquired as they were in Iraq before the first Gulf War and how banal and dangerous some of the transactions are and how complicit governments and individuals in the West were.

7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?

I am constantly writing and editing as I write, chapter by chapter, but I don’t allow the editing to stop the forward progress because I will also edit after a full draft is finished. That is when I consider and edit the whole, draft after draft.

8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?

Frozen yogurt bars.

9--Describe your writing space/office!

Before the pandemic, I wrote at restaurants. I know restaurants in cities where I live and travel; I know where I can order breakfast or lunch or both and occupy a table for a long time without bothering anyone. I know where the plugs are.  But during the pandemic, I wrote in a room off my bedroom in the country and installed low bookcases and cubes to hold papers and sat in a chair with a lap desk and a computer. I now love both places.  I don’t write at home in the city, but in the country, I write in my cozy chair with a lap desk and view of a river.

10--Who is an author you admire?

My son Elliot Ackerman. As I developed as a writer, I particularly admired Toni Morrison, Graham Greene and author of author, Leo Tolstoy. And many many others.

11--Is there a book that changed your life?

So many books. As a young aspiring writer and student, James Baldwin’s Another Country and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man opened up worlds for me.

12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.

BURNING DISTANCE has been so many years in the writing and publishing that the call from my agent that a relatively new publisher—Oceanview—which publishes thrillers wanted to buy TWO of my novels felt almost anti-climactic. My first reaction was FINALLY! THANK YOU! I love this novel and the characters and felt relieved they would finally get into the world and find others who could share the story. BURNING DISTANCE is being published as a thriller, which it is, but it is also a family story, a mystery, and a romance.

13--What’s your favorite genre to read?

I don’t read exactly in genres. I enjoy books with an international political view, with compelling characters. Because my book is published in the thriller genre, I am reading more and more international political thrillers these days.

14--What’s your favorite movie?

The Sound of Music is my all-time favorite. I also like Charlie Wilson’s War and Argo. I also like comedies like A Fish Called Wanda and Birdcage.

15--What is your favorite season?

Summer with late spring and early autumn framing the time.

16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

In my family we quit celebrating birthdays at age 20, which has allowed me to stay younger in my own head. I often forget my birthday, but I have a younger friend who has the same birthday and she and her family usually wish me a happy day. Because my birthday is near Valentines, my mother used to call me early (on my birthday) and wish me Happy Valentines!

17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?

Elliot Ackerman’s THE FIFTH ACT: America’s End in Afghanistan

18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

Italian

19--What do you do when you have free time?

I love to swim, visit with friends, and sometimes just sit and think in a beautiful place with my dog on my lap and try to figure out this complicated, fraught, but beautiful world.

20--What can readers expect from you next?

My next novel THE FAR SIDE OF THE DESERT will be published by Oceanview in 2024—also a thriller and a family story.

BURNING DISTANCE by Joanne Leedom-Ackerman

Burning Distance

A modern-day Romeo and Juliet— set against the backdrop of deadly weapons smuggling.

When ten-year-old Elizabeth West' s father dies in a tragic plane crash over the Persian Gulf, her family uproots their life in Washington, D.C., and moves to London. Her mother marries a knighted British businessman who has two children, and Elizabeth (Lizzy) and her two sisters move in with their new family.

At age sixteen, while attending the American School of London, Lizzy meets and falls in love with Adil Hasan— but when Adil' s father, a noted arms middleman, is deported, Lizzy and Adil are separated.

Lizzy' s family has also become involved with French-German industrialist Gerald Rene Wagner. Little does she know that Adil' s family has ties to the man, as well. When a member of her family is murdered in Berlin under mysterious circumstances, questions surface about Wagner' s dealings, and Lizzy reexamines what really may have happened to her father. All the while, she endeavors to reunite with her lost love, Adil, and reclaim the connection that was ripped away.

Set in the years before and after the first Gulf War, Burning Distance is a journey through family secrets and competing loyalties, contemporary history, and the dark world of arms trafficking.

 

Thriller Crime [Oceanview Publishing, On Sale: March 7, 2023, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781608095339 / eISBN: 9781608095346]

Buy BURNING DISTANCEAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Love's Sweet Arrow | Walmart.com | Book Depository | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Joanne Leedom-Ackerman

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman is a novelist, short story writer, and journalist. Her book PEN Journeys: Memoir of Literature on the Line was published in February 2022. Her works of fiction include The Dark Path to the River and No Marble Angels, and her novels Burning Distance and The Far Side of the Desert will be published in 2023 and 2024.  She has also published fiction and essays in books and anthologies and is the editor of The Journey of Liu Xiaobo: From Dark Horse to Nobel Laureate. A former reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, Joanne is Vice President emeritus of PEN International, where she has served as International Secretary and Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee. She serves on the board of the American Writers Museum, Words Without Borders, the International Center for Journalists, and Refugees International, and is former board member of Save the Children and an emeritus board member of the PEN Faulkner Foundation, Human Rights Watch, Poets and Writers, Johns Hopkins University, and Brown University.

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