Monday, June 10, 2013

Interview with Dana Mentink and book giveaway

Narelle here. I'm delighted to welcome Dana Mentink to our blog today. We will be giving away a copy of Dana's July release, Jungle Fire (USA and Canada mailing addresses only).

DANA MENTINK lives in California with her husband and two children. She has a major in Liberal Studies with an English minor. Her first love is the classroom, having taught children from preschool through fifth grade for over a decade. One of her specialties is public speaking. She earned scholarships for competitive speech and debate throughout high school and college and enjoyed competing at a national level in advocacy and dramatic interpretation.

Dana is perpetually in search of a great story, either through painfully expensive trips to the book store or in her own labors in front of the computer. Her series of UP FINNY’S NOSE mysteries debuted in 2007 from Barbour Books for their Heartsong Presents mystery line and were recently rereleased in e-book format. Dana also enjoys writing for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense which garnered her a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award in 2010 and a Holt Medallion Merit Award in 2012. Her first book with Moody Publishers entitled JUNGLE FIRE, will debut in July 2013. In addition to writing fourteen novels, Dana has enjoyed her role as book reviewer for the California Women’s Retreat.

Back cover blurb:
The deadliest animal in the jungle is the two legged kind. 

Nina Truman is a missionary nurse, serving in a tiny Guatemalan town not far from the Mexican border. It's a fulfilling life, tending to the village poor, a way to serve in the country from which she was adopted. The day she leaves on furlough, is the day her life falls apart. Her bus is ambushed and she must flee from forces who inexplicably wish her dead. Trapped between a ruthless drug lord and his assassins, a corrupt police chief, and colleagues with ulterior motives, her friends may prove just as deadly as her enemies as she uncovers a plot tangled deep in the roots of her own past. 

Nina's only hope of survival lies in the hands of Shaw Wilder, a man who despises missionaries and the God they serve. His skill is in handling a landmine detection dog, not helping a woman he blames for the death of his sister. When the lethal drug kingpin El Escorpion seeks to capture Nina, and the local police are no help, Shaw has to choose: flee into the Guatemalan jungle with a naive woman who has vowed never to take a life or follow his own spiritual demons and walk away. His choice may leave them both imprisoned in a jungle from which neither will escape.

Narelle: What was your inspiration for writing Jungle Fire?

Dana: I am always interested in putting characters in a situation where they cannot easily get help, a scenario that tests their physical endurance and spiritual strength. No cell phone? No police? No indoor plumbing? This book drops the two protags in the middle of the Petén jungle at a time when they are being pursued by enemies all on sides. It makes for a compelling suspense novel. I surely wouldn’t want to undergo the same conditions! I wouldn’t last two days.

Narelle: Why did you choose Guatemala as the setting for your book?

Dana: I was looking for an international setting, a place I wanted to learn more about. My mother lived in Guatemala briefly as a child, so I had heard a few tidbits from her. I usually go for a setting that interests me personally, rather than one I am completely familiar with already. Writing a novel is my chance to learn as well as create!

Narelle: Please share with us a few of your research tips.

Dana: Dive in! I generally start with the happiest place on earth….yes, the library! I love old books, dusty tomes that hold little tidbits waiting to be unearthed. That gives me the background material. Then I move on to more current sources (the internet, blogs, etc.) and finally, if possible, I talk to people who have more experience with the subject than I do. I’ve talked to a pilot (for my book Turbulence) and missionaries who served in Guatemala as well as laypeople who lived and vacationed there. Folks are most of the time eager to share their experiences.

Narelle: How has your faith influenced your writing?

Dana: Well…there’s an old adage that says “write what you know.” On the one hand, I don’t believe that because I write about all kinds of things I’ve never experienced. (If I used my life experiences only, you’d be bored to tears, trust me!) On the other hand, I believe that books must be a reflection of your worldview and for me, that is the knowledge that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. That has to come across in my novels or I’m not writing “what I know” so to speak.

Narelle: Please share your writing process with us. Do you plot or write ‘by the seat of your pants’? Do you write every day?

Dana: I write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense which are shorter 60,000 word books. I sell them on proposal (which is a synopsis and three sample chapters) and my editors require a very tight synopsis so basically I have to know the main plot points when I sell the book so no ‘seat of the pants’ here. Writing for Moody required the same type of proposal, but with more words to work with (80,000 plus) I had more room to play. I don’t write on Sundays, but generally, I’m writing the other six days a week.

Narelle: Please tell us about your upcoming releases.

Dana: I’m honored to have Jungle Fire release with Moody next month. I’ve got a natural disaster series of Love Inspired Suspense books the first of which is Shock Wave releasing in August of 2013, followed by Force of Nature in December of 2013. Then there’s a standalone releasing in time for the Olympics in 2014 entitled Race For Gold.

Dana, thanks for visiting with us today. By commenting on today’s post, US and Canadian readers can enter the drawing to win a copy of Jungle Fire. The drawing will take place on Thursday, June 20 and the winner announced on Sunday, 23 June. Please leave an email address [ ] at [ ] dot [ ] where you can be reached.

"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."

To learn more about Dana Mentink, please visit her website.

Narelle Atkins writes contemporary inspirational romance and lives in Canberra, Australia. She recently sold her debut novel, set in Australia, to Harlequin's Heartsong Presents line in a 6-book contract. Her first book, Falling for the Farmer, will be a February 2014 release. 

She has published Bible Studies on Smashwords and blogs regularly at

Narelle is a co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA) 

To learn more about Narelle, please visit her website.


  1. I enjoyed the interview very much. I think Jungle Fire sounds like an exciting book, which I'd love to read. thank you for offering a copy.
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

  2. I love books where the past comes back to haunt the present and this one has lots of potential. Thanks for telling us about it. leannehardy [at] gmail [dot] com

  3. This story sounds fantastic, Dana! Congratulations! contact(dot)harris(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. KayM, LeAnne and Lisa, thanks for stopping by and good luck in the drawing :)

  5. Thanks for a fascinating interview. Dana, I love how you describe your writing background. That "write what you know" can refer to your faith journey as against the actual story events. No entry unfortunately as I live in South Africa but I do hope your book does well!

  6. Thank you all for the lovely comments. I am excited to see the book launch as this is my first venture with River North.