Where Adventure Meets Redemption: An Interview with Dani Pettrey


I was making the rounds at a local author meet-and-greet at the library. I was gathering business cards, bookmarkers, and other marketing material as I went from table to table where each author was displaying their work. Hands full, I grabbed a few more bookmarkers from one of the last tables where the author was already busy talking to someone else and headed out. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that this local author was a Christian and fellow homeschool mom, which I found intriguing.

I took a chance and shot her an email asking if she’d be willing to get together for coffee. I knew it was a long shot; she is a busy author with deadlines. But Dani Pettrey graciously agreed to get together to discuss writing, books, publishing, and homeschooling. As a writer and homeschooling mother myself, I had lots of questions about how she balanced her love of writing with the rest of busy-mom-life.

Dani Pettrey is the author of the Alaskan Courage series for Bethany House. Submerged, Shattered, and the newly released Stranded follows various members of the McKenna siblings as they solve mysteries, struggle with faith, encounter romance, and chase adventure. Dani agreed to give Ungrind readers a peek into her life as an author and share where her inspiration for writing comes from.

Tell us when you first discovered a love of writing?

I have always loved daydreaming and making up stories. I dabbled with creative writing growing up, but set it aside. It wasn’t until after a bout with a serious illness many years ago that I really felt God stirring me to start writing again.

How do you find inspiration for your plots?

I find it everywhere: movies, song lyrics, news articles, even a simple word. For example, the inspiration behind Submerged came from watching a movie about cave divers; the inspiration behind Shattered came from a passing comment a friend of mine made about her son’s recent surgery. I just never know what may trigger an idea. Once I have an idea, comes the fun part … running with the “what if’s?”

Do you know how the whole story will turn out before writing, or does the story reveal itself to you as you go?

It definitely reveals itself as I go. I’m not a “plotter.” I have a general premise and a very rough feel for my characters when I sit down to write. The fun for me is seeing how it all unfolds.

Your stories have a lot of action in them that includes skiing, diving, and rock climbing. Do you know how to do all these sports yourself, and if not, how do you research in order to write convincingly about them?

I’ve been skiing and rock climbing. I took the diving certification classes, but found I felt too claustrophobic. Fortunately, I love research and enjoy spending time learning about all the adventures my characters encounter. I love research so much, I often have to stop myself and force myself to sit down and write. But I definitely have an adventurer’s heart and I think that really helps As far as research goes, I read a lot of first person accounts and adventure handbooks. I also find watching movies involving the sports or documentaries on the sport or the athletes to be extremely helpful. I’m such a visual person so anything and everything visual helps me feel more apart of my characters’ worlds.

What can readers expect from your newest book, Stranded?

Stranded is an action-packed romance set aboard an Alaskan cruise ship. Here’s a summary:

When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn’t satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn’t lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby’s position. Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn’t the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances. Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He’s surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report. Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they dig, the more Gage fears they’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

What spiritual impact or theme do you hope readers will take away after reading a Dani Pettrey novel?

There are so many things in this world vying for our attention, but wholeness, true healing, redemption and renewal can be found in Christ alone. I hope that’s what readers take away when they read one of my novels. Each book has its own theme, but they all fall under the amazing grace of our Lord.

If you could share one piece of encouragement or advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?

Write. I know it sounds trite, but it’s true. You need to learn to be disciplined early on. To spend the hours writing and reading and learning. A lot of people want to write a book. Few actually do it. And, secondly I would say never give up. If writing is your passion, follow it. God created that love and hunger for the written word in you. It’s His gift to you and when you use it, you give a gift (your words, your heart) back to Him.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not busy writing?

I love spending time with my family. I enjoy hiking, spending time at the beach, swimming, reading (of course), watching romantic comedies, and frequent trips to the coffee house.

Would you share some of your own favorite books or authors?

Absolutely. My favorite authors include Dee Henderson, Terri Blackstock, Sue Grafton, Jane Austen, and Karen Witemeyer. Some of my favorite books are Dee’s entire O’Malley series, Terri’s Predator, Sue’s Alphabet series, and Karen’s Short-Straw Bride, Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes and absolute favorite of all time is Pride and Prejudice.

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Danielle Ayers Jones is wife to an amazing husband and mother to three. She's a writer and photographer, combining both loves on her blog, danielleayersjones.com. A space where she seeks to find beauty in everyday places, joy in hardship, rest in the struggle, and encouragement in unexpected places. She's also written for Thriving Family, Clubhouse, Jr., iBelieve.com, StartMarriageRight.com, and FortheFamily.org. You can follow Danielle on Instagram here and Pinterest here.

  • Thanks so much for having me!

    • No problem, excited to have you “visit” Ungrind!

      • Danielle, Please share with us the sage advice on homeschooling and writing at the same time! More than ever I could use some wisdom in this area. :)

        • It’s so hard because everyone’s lives are so different, but I think one practical suggestion was afternoon quiet times for the kids, even if they don’t sleep. Dani is welcome to chime in here too if she likes!

          • We do the afternoon quiet time too — even if the kids don’t sleep. The older ones take time to read, listen to “Adventures in Odyssey,” or play quietly.

  • Cyndi W.

    Recent adventure? We traveled 13 hours to surprise my daughter after her boyfriend proposed. He planned an amazing proposal and when they went back to his folks’ house to tell them and call us, we were already there. :) That was quite a surprise but then when her older brother and his wife walked out, she was completely shocked! So much fun! Btw, LOVED Stranded… and the other two!

    • Cyndi W.

      temporary brain freeze :) Also loved Submerged and Shattered!

  • Shannon

    Trip to Alaska for our 1 year wedding anniversary!

    • Congrats, Shannon! You are the winner! I’ll send you an email soon with more info.

      • Shannon

        THANK YOU!

  • Amy Kittel

    Recently I accompanied my husband on his business trip to New Orleans. Since he was busy all day for 3 days, I got to do my own vacation! I saw things I may not have with him. I went on a swamp tour and saw alligators. I toured 2 plantations. I went to a WW2 museum. And a food tasting tour. I’ve realized I need to take a day by myself, when we do our family vacations, to see things by myself.

  • Theresa N

    I changed the faucet in my bathroom by myself,trust me it was any adventure. Yes everything works right. Thankfully!!

  • Sharon Timmer

    My husband & I took a trip to Montana / it would have been more exciting if we had been able to go to Glacier National Park however the government shut it down :(

  • Rachel

    I haven’t had any recent adventures but a favorite from the past was dog sledding in Quebec. It was fantastic!!

  • Erin

    No travels really- I started a new job recently though!

  • Karen G

    Went hiking in the Adirondacks in NY state.

  • Cheryl Veenstra

    Just discovered Dani Pettrey! Loved her book Shattered. Looking forward to reading her other books!

    My husband and I were blessed to go to Kauai last Spring for our second honeymoon (after 26 years and 3 kids!!) SO needed that wonderful break after 15 years of many serious medical issues in our family. Reading Christian fiction has been my ‘escape’ and inspiration!!


  • Naomi Shores

    I don’t really have a traveling adventure. As someone else posted, a home adventure, I’ve been having is trying to get the algae killed in our pool so that I can close it this winter clean and open it in the spring algae-free. It would be the first time in 3 years that it has happened.

  • Jessica

    My adventures don’t get much more exciting than a trip to the grocery store each week with my one year old! Every week, we head out on our excursion. Everything is new and exciting for him!

  • Marilyn Johnson

    We live an adventure. We are missionaries to the Haitian People. We currently live in South Florida, however, we lived in Haiti for 4 years. It is an blessing just to serve the Lord. But what an adventure it was to live in a third world country with my family.

  • Debbie

    Trip to Canada with my husband a few weeks ago! Gorgeous country and great hiking and food!!!!

  • Lovely interview! I must admit that I have never read any of your books, Dani, but I have wanted to since hearing about them. I am afraid that most of the adventures that I have had are in my books. But then, being a singer & musician is an adventure in itself. Who knows what towering scores you’ll have to conquer next, or where you’ll be called upon to sing? Tis always best to be prepared. ;) Thank you for sharing with us, Dani. Thank you for the giveaway!! Blessings,

  • Having fun reading about everyone’s adventures. Thanks so much for stopping by :)

  • Rachel @RedeemingHer

    A day of camping and sight seeing in Hot Springs, AR!

  • Debbie S

    Raising kids is always an adventure! Especially with the boys. :-)

  • Summer

    I’m a mom. Every day is an adventure! :)

  • Shirley Blanchard

    I use to home scoll its very rewarding, i would love to win this book, thank you
    Shirley B jcisforme@aol.com

  • Ola Norman

    I like Alaska adventure stories. Can’t wait to read this one.

  • Melissa

    I teach 8th grade. Everyday is an adventure! :)
    I love your books! Thanks for the giveaway!

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Where Adventure Meets Redemption: An Interview with Dani Pettrey

by Danielle Ayers Jones time to read: 4 min