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by Dana Mentink

Settings! They are one of the things that compel me as a reader and writer. Bring me to a new world, a place I’ve never been and I’m fascinated. My early years found me steeped in Middle Earth, Oz, and Narnia. More recently, the Life of Pi swept me away to a mysterious carnivorous island. Ironically though, I’m not much of a traveler in real life. I get nervous journeying on planes, trains, elevators, anything that takes me away from home, which is rich irony since I seek to write the most savage settings I can find.

Jungle FireMy newest book, Jungle Fire (July release) took me to the Petén in Guatemala. The steamy jungle, deadly animals and breathtaking terrain had to be as real and compelling as any character in the novel. This brought me to a real eye opening realization: I actually enjoy doing research! This is not something I would have ever been accused of during my college days. Now research has changed though, hasn’t it? A web search is a whole lot speedier than a browse through the stacks (though I always start any research project with a trip to the library.) The web is crowded with blogs off all kinds, offering testimonies of people in every conceivable situation. Even more exciting is the ability to connect with folks who have actually done the thing which I am too scared to entertain. The lovely Justine, a missionary in Guatemala, consulted on Jungle Fire and Sugar Todd, short track speed skater chimed in on an Olympic themed book for Love Inspired Suspense. And to think, I connected with all these folks from the safety of my own desk chair!

Who knows? Maybe one day I will be inspired to strike out into the Petén Jungle or the remote Sahara. Until then, I will sure enjoy being transported through the amazing power of fiction.

What about you? Do you enjoy reading or writing books with exotic settings? I’d be thrilled to hear your thoughts. God bless!

Dana MentinkDana Mentink got her start writing the UP FINNY’S NOSE mysteries for Heartsong Presents, recently re-released as ebooks. She writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, earning a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion Merit Award. Her River North debut, JUNGLE FIRE, releases in July. Visit her at

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