Roxana Arama joins us this week to chat about her debut legal thriller, Extreme Vetting

Author Name: Roxana Arama


Book Genre: Legal Thriller

Release Date: February 7, 2023

Publisher: Ooligan Press

Welcome Roxana! How would you describe Extreme Vetting

An immigration lawyer fights to keep her client from being deported to the country where his family was murdered many years ago. Then she finds out the killers are coming here—for both of them.

What sparked the idea for this book?

In October 2018, I had a conversation with my husband about my being an immigrant. A few months before, I had watched the president of the United States at a rally, where he compared immigrants to venomous snakes that should be crushed underfoot. Being the target of such hateful speech horrified me. History teaches us that the first step toward violence is dehumanizing the other. When my husband suggested I write an immigration novel, I saw the opportunity to reassert the humanity that Trump and his crowd denied people like me. I hoped I could show interested readers what it feels like to go through our complex legal and enforcement system, or even worse, to be shut out completely, with no path to citizenship in your children’s native country.

How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do any research?

I wrote Extreme Vetting in fourteen months. I wanted to write it faster, but there was a lot of research to do about the immigration system, even though I’d been through the permanent residency process twice, and I was familiar with the paperwork, the appointments, and the officials involved. To start, I extensively interviewed an immigration lawyer, who also offered guidance during the editing of my manuscript. I had always paid attention to immigration news, but now I needed to focus on how the courts and government agencies worked. I studied court documents from two criminal cases in Washington State against ICE officials who were sentenced to prison for defrauding undocumented immigrants. I also read about the countries my characters were from. At the end, I worked with sensitivity readers to make sure my cultural descriptions were accurate and respectful.

What drew you to writing crime fiction?

Crime fiction done right is the definition of entertainment. It can keep the reader turning pages and offer a really good time. My goal was to give my audience a look at the inside of our immigration system but also to provide an engaging read. So I chose the thriller format, with compelling characters, high stakes, and a ticking clock. Then I read craft books and lots of thrillers, from action-packed to domestic suspense, learning how to write my own.

What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?

Being in the flow, creating imaginary worlds and people that make sense to readers. I used to be a software developer, and I worked on pretty cool projects, but the excitement I feel when I write a good story that works is even better. The challenging part is trying not to get hurt when my writing doesn’t resonate with readers. Rejections hurt because I always build my stories with a desire to connect, to bring this idea from my mind to other minds and make it real. When that doesn’t happen, it’s a big disappointment.

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Extreme Vetting?

If they’re interested in a page-turner, a courtroom drama, and an edifying read on the thorny subject of immigration, then this book is for them. It’s also a story about parents and children separated not only by the generational divide, but by different native cultures. And it’s a timely and well-researched novel.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

The sense that immigration is complex, and not just because of the legal and political aspects. Leaving behind the culture and the family you were born into is always traumatic, no matter what caused it. It’s genuinely hard to build a home in a new land, even when there’s support, and especially when there isn’t. In our political discourse, immigration is presented in terms meant to create visceral reactions. Dehumanizing the other to score political points. I hope the readers of Extreme Vetting will agree that someone’s accent or undocumented status doesn’t make them less human.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

Being outside: hiking with my family or walking through my neighborhood. I also like video games, but I don’t have enough time to play.

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

It’s a sci-fi thriller about the emergence of artificial general intelligence on Earth—in an alternate history where the Roman Empire lasted another millennium. The androids struggle to find safety, freedom, and peace at home, but if they can’t, they must secure a new place to live. It’s another immigration story, but this time with androids and spaceships. And it draws from my degree in computer science with a major in artificial intelligence, as well as recent developments in AI and neuroscience. I completed a couple of drafts, and now I’m revising it.

Where can readers find you?

My website is, and it has information on how to purchase Extreme Vetting, as well as news about all my other writing projects.

Extreme Vetting can be purchased on Bookshop and Amazon, as well as local bookstores.

Twitter: @RoxanaArama


I’ll also be attending ThrillerFest XVIII, where my book will be featured together with this year’s debuts.

Thank you, Roxana! Extreme Vetting is out TODAY!

An immigration lawyer fights to keep her client from being deported to the country where his family was murdered many years ago. Then she finds out the killers are coming here—for both of them.

Seattle, Washington, 2019. Attorney and single mom Laura Holban is an immigrant herself. Her client Emilio Ramirez was arrested at his sons’ high school and thrown in detention. When Laura files for his asylum, false criminal charges prevent his release. Someone is following his family, and an ICE prosecutor threatens to revoke Laura’s US citizenship. None of it makes sense—until Laura uncovers a deadly conspiracy involving ICE, stolen data, and human trafficking. Which puts her daughter and Emilio’s sons in imminent danger.

Author Bio:

Roxana Arama is a Romanian American author with a master of fine arts in creative writing from Goddard College. She studied computer science in Bucharest, Romania, and moved to the United States to work in software development. Her short stories and essays have been published in several literary magazines. Extreme Vetting is her first novel. She lives in Seattle, Washington, with her family. More at