I am honored to welcome Dani Pettrey to By The Book today. Her latest novel, Cold Shot, was By The Book’s June selection. We have found another favorite author! Thanks, Dani, for sharing with my readers today.
By The Book: Dani, your debut novel released just over 4 years ago, in May of 2012. Since that time, you have released six books, including your latest novel, Cold Shot. How do you write so fast?
Dani Pettrey: Ha. I feel like I write so slow. I have author friends who can write a book in three months. I need closer to eight, but thanks for saying I write fast ☺. I have to write at a pace that gives me enough time to make a book the best it can be and for me that time is a bit longer. It is hard to believe I’ve written six books in that amount of time. God is good.
BTB: All of your books have been on bestseller lists and received accolades from book critics and readers. Why do you think your books have struck a chord?
Dani: God’s grace. I really give Him the credit as all good things come from Him. As far as I can tell from the wonderful emails and letters I receive from readers, it appears they really fall in love with my characters. I think that’s so crucial in a story. If you can’t identify or empathize with the characters, it’s very hard to feel connected to the story.
BTB: Writing was a dream for you. What encouragement do you have for those who are pursuing a dream — whether it’s writing a book, launching a business, or changing careers?
Dani: Never give up. I read a statistic somewhere that said ninety-five percent of people who start out to write a novel never finish. It takes perseverance. It’s the same with any dream. You need to be dedicated and willing to stick to it for as long as it takes to achieve that dream. But it’s also important to fill yourself with encouragement along the way. Celebrate the steps you take even if some are baby steps—they are all leading in the right direction.
BTB: Your latest novel, Cold Shot, is the first in a new series set in the Chesapeake Bay. Tell us a bit about the series and why you chose the setting you did.
Dani: The Chesapeake Valor series is about four men who grew up together in a small, waterfront town in Maryland. They have been friends since Little League, but a tragedy and the disappearance of one of the friends just shy of college graduation, rocks them and fractures their friendships. In Cold Shot, they are reunited as their various law enforcement expertise is needed to solve the case. I chose the setting because it’s where I live and I wanted to share the beauty of this area with my readers. Also, living along the 95 corridor opened up a lot of wonderful fields of law enforcement we have in the area.
BTB: How does the new series differ from your first series, Alaskan Courage?
Dani: My Alaskan Courage series really focused on adventure as a key element and family relationships. My Chesapeake Valor series focuses more on the suspense aspect and friendships.
BTB: I think one of the most fascinating parts of writing must be researching. What kind of research did you do for Cold Shot? And, what did you learn?
Dani: Oh, boy. I did a ton of research — everything from talking with an incredible Forensic Anthropologist, a Baltimore County Police Officer, and several key people at the International Justice Mission, to reading everything I could find on the subjects I was covering, along with visiting the actual locations — another perk of setting a series where you live. I learned how to step-by-step process a crime scene from a forensic anthropologist’s perspective, where to hide a body in Gettysburg National Park (okay, not really, but I did pick the actual location while on a private research tour. It freaked our guide out a little, but we assured him it was all for researching a novel. Pretty sure he believed us ☺.), and I got to visit so many places I’d never really seen and enjoyed in my area.
BTB: What do you hope readers will take away from Cold Shot and your new series as a whole?
Dani: I hope they will take away the beauty of friendships even through the difficult times, the hope we have in Christ, and the freedom we experience when we extend forgiveness.
BTB: What are you working on now?
Dani: I’ve just finished book two in the series, Still Life, and am now in the beginning stages of writing book three. I hope readers will enjoy the entire series.
Thanks for sharing with my readers, Dani!
Dani Pettrey is a wife, mom, grandma, and the author of Cold Shot, the first book in the Chesapeake Valor series, and the Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, Silenced, and Sabotaged. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, a Christy Award nomination, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award, among others.
She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves—the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and a super adorable grandson.