Spotlight | Braving Strange Waters

Spotlight, Writing Spot

Today’s spotlight features

Braving Strange Waters by Sarah Hanks.

About the Book

Stella Lindy is supposed to be soaking up the sunshine with her bridesmaids on a bachelorette cruise to Hawaii. But when she hits the wrong button on the elevator, the glamorous luxury of the modern ship is replaced with the Missouri River steamboat Arabia filled with strangers—and a mysterious doctor informs her it is 1856.

Communicating through an antique mailbox, her friends on the cruise try to guide her back home before the steamboat sinks, but Stella finds herself caught in a tangled web between pro-slavery Border Ruffians and anti-slavery Jayhawkers. Standing up for what’s right in the face of peril and uncertainty might mean never making it home.

Braving Strange Waters is a riveting time-slip novel with memorable characters, exciting twists, and rich internal conflict that fans of Gabrielle Meyer will love.

About the Author

Sarah Hanks is an award-winning author of Christian fiction in both the contemporary and historical genres. After spending over a decade mostly writing and teaching Sunday school curricula for churches in her community, she jumped into writing fiction full-time with her split-time novel Mercy Will Follow Me. She and her husband have nine children, a couple of whom seem to have inherited their mother’s love for playing with words and crafting stories. Though Sarah dreams of a cabin by the beach, the family lives jammed together in beautiful chaos near St. Louis, Missouri. She buys earplugs in bulk.

You can follow her on Facebook or Instagram @authorsarahhanks.

Author Q & A

What is something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you?

If you follow me on social media at all, you know I have nine children, two of whom are adopted and have special needs. The newest addition to our family has a couple of chromosomal deletions, which immediately drew us to his profile. My brother was diagnosed with a chromosomal deletion in utero and doctors urged my mom to abort. I’m so thankful she refused, as that beautiful baby boy is now a young man with mad bowling skills. I became an advocate for life and children with special needs while watching his glorious story unfold when I was a teenager. It marked me, and now it marks many of my books.

What was the inspiration behind your story?

The idea for this story came to me while cruising with my bestie and another friend in

January 2023 on a ship with retro decor and an antique mailbox. We realized the cruise ship didn’t list a thirteenth floor—it skipped from floor twelve to floor fourteen—and joked about what could be on the mysterious missing floor. As we were taking the elevators up to the top deck, for some reason, my friend Rene and I got into one elevator, and Michelle got into the other. When we reached the fourteenth floor, we waited for Michelle to step off the other elevator and greet us. Only she didn’t. As we continued to wait, wondering what was taking her so long, I started rambling about how she probably ended up on the mysterious thirteenth floor, which was actually a time portal that sucked her back into time onto an antebellum steamboat. (If you’ve read my Mercy series, you know I have a thing about steamboats.)

While Michelle did turn up a bit later, proclaiming she’d hit the wrong button and then

gotten turned around, the story idea had taken off like a snowball rolling downhill. Rene and I had visited the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City together when I was researching for my Mercy series. It seemed a natural fit. And thus, my first time-traveling novel was birthed.

What encouragement do you hope readers will take away from your story?

In Braving Strange Waters, Stella has a heart that yearns to do the right thing, yet fear strangles her. While the reader may not struggle with fear and insecurity in the same way as this character, I think we all can relate at some level. In this story, she gets a second chance to make more courageous choices, and she does so by relying on Jesus’ strength instead of her own. I hope Stella’s journey encourages readers to lean into the Lord’s goodness as they step out in faith, in little and big ways, drawing from the courage He provides. 

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