Why did you pick Guatemala for your suspense novel?
I get that question quite a bit, in light of my upcoming release, Jungle Fire.
Hello, all. Dana Mentink here. It all goes back to that exquisite skirt. During my elementary school years, I was assigned a report to be written on a country of my choice. My mother suggested studying Guatemala, because she'd lived there briefly. I hit the library stacks and was mesmerized by the quetzal, the fantastical, jewel colored national bird of the country. Furthermore, my mother showed me a skirt, black, and festooned with the tiniest, most elaborate embroidery I'd ever seen, colors of green, red and ivory against a black background. (I still have that skirt, by the way.)
Fast forward more years than I care to admit, and I was given the honor of writing a proposal for River North about a missionary nurse, running for her life, but where should the book be set? Light bulb moment. Guatemala, of course.
So what's a writer to do who hasn't had the privilege of visiting the country in which their book is set? Find people who have. It didn't take long for me to connect with a missionary teacher who had lived in Chimaltenango. Justine was gracious enough to share her insights into the country.
Some other lovely people who planted churches there, graciously allowed me to lurk on their blogs and contributed to my knowledge base, sharing memories both hilarious and hair raising.
Below are a few facts I found interesting about this amazing country.
-The food of Guatemala: who wouldn't enjoy a delicious dobladas, a type of fried snack with meat or veggies folded into a corn tortilla?
-The weather: Guatemalans experience only two seasons, wet and dry. Guatemala means "eternal spring" in a Mayan language.
-The vegetation: the country's tropical climate is perfect for some 600 species of orchids. The endangered white nun orchid is Guatemala's national flower.
-The language: Though Spanish is the official language, there are more than 20 different Mayan dialects spoken in Guatemala. I hope these little snippets have piqued your interested in Guatemala.
-- Dana Mentink YOU TELL US: Have you lived in or traveled to Central America? What is your fondest memory of your time there?
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 the spring of 2013. In addition to writing fourteen novels, Dana has enjoyed her role as book reviewer for the California Women’s Retreat.