Mother of two Dani Pettrey balances faith, suspense, and romance perfectly in her book Submerged which tells the story of high-stakes, deep-water diving, murder, and disaster. What secrets lie on dry land in Yancy, Alaska? What secrets lie in the deep waters off the coast?
What was your inspiration driving the story in Submerged?
I watched a movie about cave divers and it got me thinking what type of person would pursue such a dangerous job for a living. I find extreme athletes and people who pursue adventurous careers simply fascinating. I began diving into all the extreme sports and adventure professions and the McKenna family was born.
Over the course of writing it, what surprised you most during the journey?
I think how deeply I fell in love with the McKennas. How real they became to me. I would have been so sad if I’d only been able to share Cole’s story. I’m so grateful that I get to share at least two more of McKenna sibling’s stories. Piper’s up next in Shattered—due out in February.
What parts were inspired by real-life (either research or experience)?
Someone asked a similar question in an earlier interview. Specifically, how much of me was in Bailey. I said not a lot, and to some extent I think that’s still true. Bailey and I share some similarities in background, but she is very much her own person. However, reading back through Submerged after some time away, I caught glimpses of characteristics of people I know. I see my husband’s humor and my daughter’s inquisitiveness, so it’s really a blend. The McKennas are their very own, but real life does influence stories and it’s fun to see that.
Why do you think story is such a powerful way to communicate truth?
Excellent question. I believe it’s because story allows you to see things from a different perspective, to look at life (love, loss, forgiveness) through a different pair of eyes. It allows you to transport time and space. You can see life happening in the Middle Ages or in Biblical times. You can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and learn from them, all in the vehicle of an entertaining story.
Books have been such a huge part of my life. There are many novels that have touched my life—helped me to see something in a different light, inspired hope, and made me a better person. I humbly hope that my stories touch my reader’s lives in a similar way.
What projects are you working on now?
I am working on line edits for Shattered and writing Stranded—Book Three in my Alaskan Courage series.