A woman with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Nina Purtee is a worldwide traveler, philosopher, and adventure romance novelist. Growing up in Atlanta, Nina’s father ignited her travel obsession with lavish family trips to exotic locations. Some of those experiences have found their way into her writing. Island-hopping with her family through the Greek Islands on a 95-foot sailboat, the Eleni, gave Nina the inspiration for Don Marco’s vessel, the Porto Banus. While on safari in East Africa, she met a woman artist with her companion, a sculptor, living in a tent immersed in their artwork. They inspired the characters of Annie’s friend, Sarah, and the sculptor, Sam. Nina draws from her travels to paint pictures with her words.

The sudden death of a colleague left Nina desolate and became the catalyst for Annie’s journey to seek balance, understanding, and resolution. Beyond the Sea: Annie’s Journey into the Extraordinary is the first in her series. Crossing Paths: The Road to Destiny, the sequel, continues Annie’s journey as the cast of characters widens and matures. Her newest novel, Finding Sarah: A Phoenix to Behold, explores the fascinating life of one of Annie’s close friends that she made on her journey.
Nina now lives in Florida surrounded by family and friends when she is not traveling the globe seeking new experiences to write about.


Throughout her Annie’s Journey Series, Nina “shares her gift and craft of writing for young women with a strong element of inspiration or timeless message.”

“Purtee’s sheer brilliance of her pen adroitly explores themes of love, loss, resilience, and courage.”

A “natural storyteller, Nina loves to dig into the heart of her stories with touching insights added along the way." Reader Views

“The author's strengths lie in her vivid descriptions of diverse international settings, showcasing her keen understanding and appreciation of different cultures.”  Literary Titan

“Purtee's writing is evocative and poignant.”

“I was particularly impressed by the author’s dedication to character development, which employs wonderful descriptive and dialogue features to deliver realistic people with clearly informed choices and deeply impactful emotional reactions to the situations they’re faced with.”   Readers’ Favorite

Be Part of an Incredible Journey

I am thrilled to share with you the incredible journey that began with the conception of Annie's Journey. Inspired by the pages of the women's fashion catalog, Porto Banus, in the vibrant era of the 1990s, Annie's story emerged as a captivating narrative woven amidst the search for fashion treasures. Annie's travels to diverse destinations, in pursuit of the perfect pieces to showcase, were not just about garments; they were voyages filled with enigmatic mysteries and intriguing characters.

Capturing Years of Passion and Dedication

For 25 years, this tale simmered in the hearts and minds of many, waiting to be unveiled. Finally, Beyond the Sea and Crossing Paths burst forth, igniting hearts and imaginations with their enthralling tales. These books mark the realization of a dream, the culmination of years of passion and dedication.

A boat with two seagulls flying above it.

5 Star Acclaims!

In 2024, my trilogy “Of Love and Discovery” garnered recognition from esteemed literary critics:

A book cover with the title of " beyond the sea ".
A book about crossing paths by nina purree
A book cover with the title of finding saraki

Join Me

Join me on this extraordinary journey as we dive deep into the essence of Annie's world. Explore the depths of her adventures, unravel the mysteries that lie within, and lose yourself in the magic of her story.

In-Depth Interview

MEET THE AUTHOR: A Conversation with Nina Purtee – author of “Finding Sarah: A Phoenix to Behold”

Posted on March 12, 2024 by Reader Views

A woman standing in front of an eagle.

Finding Sarah: A Phoenix to Behold

Nina Purtee
Porto Banus Publishing (2024)
ISBN: 979-8989852956



Writing has always been a passion of mine, but it got a rocky start.

I remember in college taking a course in Journalism and English Literature at the same time. When I excelled in one style of writing, I was dismal in the other. It was quite different to go from who, what, where, when, and how, to embellishing a sentence to give it the descriptive nuances to make a reader actually feel something.

Even though I chose to take a retail position after college, I used my writing skills in a marketing effort to promote my departments. This accelerated even more when I transitioned into direct marketing through catalog shopping. I would describe a clothing item on paper in a way that a consumer would identify with it and want to buy it. When I ventured out on my own and started the catalog, Porto Banus, in the 1990s, my writing took a turn. My friend and colleague had died suddenly while sailing in a regatta. I somehow wanted to ease the pain of her loss so I established a storyline through the catalog. It was about a young woman, Annie, who was sailing on a huge sailing vessel, the Porto Banus. She traveled the world inspired by items we would describe and make available for sale.

By the time we closed the catalog company after the 9/11 tragedy, we had over 100,000 customers following the story of Annie. I received letter after letter asking, “What happened to Annie?” Like so many at that time, my life was changing and I didn’t really stop to think about an answer. Through the years, though, I wondered myself what happened to Annie but it wasn’t until 2019 that I actually tried to sit down and turn these little catalog snippets into a fully developed story. Bear in mind, the catalog version was boiled down into the who, what, where, when, how concept.

I had visual images of what I thought my characters looked like and research about the places Annie visited. Armed with a stuffed folder, I embarked solo on a transatlantic cruise from Florida to Barcelona with some land time at the end to explore the Costa del Sol of Spain. I spent hours on my balcony looking out at sea, formulating the story. By the end of that trip, I had a rough draft of Annie’s journey.

In the search for an agent or publisher, I quickly learned I had a long way to go before it would be publish-ready. It was then I found my amazing editor and she could somehow see through the skeleton of the story that was there, and that it had the potential to expand and grow into an engaging novel. She is the one who, with her editing notes, would add, “You mention Annie’s grandfather’s villa. Tell us about her grandfather. Tell us about the villa. Help us see them.”

I trained myself to be in the moment and observe the scene while I wrote about it. When Beyond the Sea: Annie’s Journey into the Extraordinary was accepted by two publishers, I decided to go with the one whose review committee said there should be a sequel. I knew there were characters who had not been fully explored and I, too, was curious about what path Annie’s journey would take from here.

My writing suddenly took on a momentum of its own, filled with inspiration. It was like I could hardly keep up with typing the words that spilled out of me. Crossing Paths: The Road to Destiny was completed in less than 3 months and was ready for editing! Annie’s new chapter had begun, but I was now able to explore some of the other characters surrounding her. Crossing Paths helped me get to know Meghan and Antonio better. I was also captivated by Ramone’s mother, Marguerite. But it was Sarah, confronting her past and a lost love at the end of Crossing Paths, who beckoned me to tell her story.

Two people in the water with their arms raised.

What is Finding Sarah: A Phoenix to Behold about?

We meet this unique woman artist, living alone in a tent in East Africa, from Annie’s perspective in Beyond the Sea. The friendship that develops between them seems somewhat unlikely with the opulence of Annie’s family versus the earthiness of Sarah. It is a symbiotic relationship and they gain from each other. But, unbeknownst to Annie, Sarah’s road has not been an easy one. Her story embodies the struggle of a young girl to overcome her heartbreaking childhood through the help and guidance of a young social worker, a caring co-worker, and two past historical female artists who defied the odds in centuries past. Sarah is like the mythological phoenix who is locked in the flames. Ironically, it is her tie with Annie that forces Sarah to confront her destiny and make a choice that would change her life.

What inspired you to give Sarah a stand-alone story?

I realized by the end of Crossing Paths that Sarah was at a crossroads. If she were to remain in the Annie’s Journey series, I needed to understand which path she would take that would affect Annie. In order to do that, I needed to dig deeper into Sarah’s life to find out what would have led her to this decision and motivate her to select the choice she inevitably has to make.

Elaborate on the aspect of Sarah’s journey to establish herself in the art world.

Sarah’s painting at a young age was a safe haven from the sadness that was a constant in her life. Inside her art world, she found she could make magic happen that gave her joy. I believe the pivotable turning point for Sarah was the mural assignment at her school in eighth grade. Doing her research for the project, she discovered Rosa Bonheur, a female artist from France who lived in the 1800’s. It was Rosa’s mother who taught her the alphabet via pictures of animals that gave Sarah the inspiration for her mural, but it was Rosa’s larger-than-life personality and her obsession with painting animals that captivated Sarah. Rosa came from poverty and lost her own mother at a young age. However, she defied the odds stacked against a female artist finding success in the art world in 19th century France. I think the stubborn defiance Sarah saw in Rosa gave her the resilience to keep pushing forward toward her own success.

A woman and two children holding up paper

Who are the supporting characters that play an important role in Sarah’s life and shape her artistic journey and personal growth? (Amelia and Annie.)

Although the question refers to Amelia and Annie, there are multiple characters who impact Sarah’s artistic journey. Certainly, Amelia lit the ray of hope when she asked a sad little girl to show her something that reminded her of good times and Sarah brought out the paint set. Having the opportunity to intern at a London gallery, Sarah met Tara, who took her under her wing and taught Sarah artistic technique and the ability to replicate a painting. Certainly, we could add the curator who believed in Sarah’s talent enough to send her application into L’Ecole d’Artes in Paris. And it was that first school art project that produced the Migration that caught El Amir’s attention. El Amir’s sponsorship undoubtedly influenced Sarah’s artistic direction, but the powerful inspiration of Rosa Bonheur, Rachel Rusch, and Kenneth Patrick honed her skills. It was Annie and the friendship and support she offered (and that Sarah offered back) that most influenced her personal growth to free herself from the pain and limitations of her past.

How do Rosa and Rachel, real-life artists, fit into Sarah’s artistic development, and why did you choose those artists?

Ironically, during the research I did for Finding Sarah, I was looking for a character who would serve as a catalyst to move Sarah forward in her art. I had no idea I would find two real artists out of history who perfectly fit Sarah’s trust and respect. Both Rosa, living in France in the 1800s, and Rachel, living in the Netherlands in the 1600s, lost their mothers at a young age. Sarah immediately identified with that. They both sold their first paintings in their teens like Sarah did. It was Rosa’s unconventional obsession with animals and defiant social behavior that helped Sarah develop her own obsession for painting animals and find the spunk to defy the odds when competing. Rachel honed Sarah’s talent with the detail of a botanist, but also revealed her ability to balance both an artistic career with a husband and 10 children!

Elaborate on the symbiotic relationship between Sarah and nature, and how it influences her art. How significant is conservation in shaping her character and the overall story?

At first, Sarah’s debilitating shyness around people made painting animals somewhat of a safe haven and she loved the idea of the ABC mural. Her obsession with Rosa soon overlapped into her obsession with painting animals and she was determined to rival Rosa’s technique. Rachel’s father was a botanist and Sarah scrutinized the subtle additions of botanical detail. Once she had the opportunity to experience Africa and paint there, the added influence of Kenneth Patrick, her art teacher from Australia, set in. But I believe it was her respect and affection for El Amir, seeing his passion for conservation in East Africa, that pushed her art to a higher level with a lofty goal. Sarah finds herself involved with the community and the importance of the Serengeti to the balance of nature. I do like the twist that Jonathan from books 1 & 2 is a marine biologist equally passionate about conservation. This is a topic that I see continuing in the series.

A man and woman standing on steps in front of a building.

Sarah’s journey takes her from tragedy to the Serengeti. What was the research process for these diverse experiences and settings?

The research for Finding Sarah was intense, but it didn’t happen all at once. Things that might have appeared simple in reading the book came with a great deal of study. For example, I have always been fascinated by the artists in the Montmartre area of Paris and I knew I wanted to incorporate that. I also had a great tour of the Louvre where our guide talked about the students who studied there and participated in the ‘Salons’ in the nineteenth century. Even the surfers from California during the Vietnam draft days had me curious about Byron Bay, Australia, and what ‘tube surfing’ was. Although Kenneth Patrick was a fictional character, I found myself believing he could have been real in that day and morphed into a sort of Tommy Bahama. I actually bought the Rosa Bonheur book Sarah’s father gave her. So many different pieces to a giant puzzle!

A woman riding a bike with a basket on the back of it.

Sarah spends some time living alone in a tent in the Serengeti. What challenges and revelations did this time bring for her?

This is a great question because Sarah was asked that during Crossing Paths and I wrote her answer before ever writing her full story. So I needed to stay true to what she said while expanding her surrounding story. Her first experience in Africa was not alone. Everything was well planned by her sponsor, El Amir, and she was there with another artist, Sam Patterson, a sculptor. Sarah also had two amazing guides, Tibu and Mosha. They taught Sarah and Sam how to live among the animals and be safe. Working with Amari and the local school, Sarah found a friend and a sense of purpose. On her second stay, she felt like ‘coming home’ to these people she had grown to care about. So, when Sam had to leave for a family emergency, Sarah had the option to leave. Her determination to complete her work combined with the comfort of the people she now knew so well made her decision to stay an easy one. It was during that time when she was alone that El Amir had promised to come back and visit and he brought Annie. It was interesting to replay that first meeting of Annie and Sarah, now from Sarah’s perspective.

Sarah’s father refers to her as a phoenix in a letter. How is this symbolism woven into the story?

Sarah’s reconnection with her father, after years of living with his abandonment as a child, is bittersweet as she only has a short time together with him before he remarries and subsequently dies unnecessarily. The letter he wrote Sarah prior to his death gave her his support and faith in her ability to overcome the obstacles in her life in order to find both joy and success. When he refers to Sarah as a phoenix, the fact that he chose an animal is significant considering Sarah’s passion for painting animals. That is why the phoenix comes to mind as she determines what to paint with the wise help of Kenneth Patrick during her art scholarship in Australia. The image shows the struggle of the phoenix still pulled by the flames of the fire and trying to break free. After the devastating heartbreak in Hamburg, Sarah seeks refuge in the south of France with Yvette’s mother, Patrice. Patrice is able to give her some peace and solace and, as Sarah prepares to leave, Patrice finds her doodling drawing a phoenix that is beginning to break free. In Africa, Sam gives Sarah a hand-sculptured gold phoenix necklace which she treasures and never removes. When Hans sees the necklace toward the end of the book, he realizes the symbolism and brings it full circle.

Finding Sarah digs deeply into themes of loss, resilience, and the transformative power of art. Elaborate on how these themes intertwine in Sarah’s story. The book employs a first-person narrative and a vivid sense of place. How did this choice enhance the storytelling?

No one who lives life can avoid hurt or loss. It is part of life. But when deeply disturbing things happen to a child who can’t understand them, the mental consequences can follow into adulthood. This is why, as an author, Sarah’s life couldn’t be boiler-plated into a short summary. She had to live it, piece by piece, feeling each heartbreak, disappointment, joy, and victory. Although I had written both prior books as a third-person narrative, within the first paragraph, I knew Sarah had to tell her own story as she lived it. Readers are able to experience the guiding hand of Amelia, the loneliness of painting alone on the beach in the sand dunes, the practice in drama class of becoming a different person, and her surprise when she finds a friend who actually likes her for who she truly is. Each fall backward is propelled by two steps forward through determination and with the help of the people who enter her life.

A woman in blue jacket and scarf near water.

What messages or insights are you hoping to offer your readers, particularly young women, through Sarah’s story?

There is a generation of young women today who have had an easy time growing up surrounded by social media, the internet, and instant gratification. Sarah wasn’t a trailblazer for women’s rights, but she was deeply moved by those women artists who were. At the center of Sarah’s journey, a beacon of light began to shine and its name was HOPE. It was a lifeline. The message is when things go wrong not to give in to despair. Hold on to hope and take one step, then another. Your future is determined by the way you choose to approach it. The bigger the challenges you face, the more valuable your success can be. The key is to live the magic that is your life.

A woman standing next to a statue of a man with a sword.

How do you balance pacing, keeping the story propulsive while allowing room for Sarah’s emotional and artistic development?

In Crossing Paths, seven of the characters made a grueling overnight hike up into the highest of the Tramuntana mountains. Writing about that climb taught me a great deal. Each of them was ready and eager at the start. I had to slow the story down to witness the transition of each of them as they struggled with their own endurance, courage, and determination. In Sarah’s story, one of the hardest parts was remembering her youth and the struggle it took to earn her way through each year. When I wrote about Sarah’s Migration painting, that made sense because of Rosa Bonheur’s influential works. What was rewarding for me as a writer was to see that El Amir’s early interest in Sarah and the Migration painting was really because of the conservation in the Serengeti cause he was so passionate about. In the book, we don’t find that out until much later.

What does the ending of the story signify in a broader thematic context, and how does it impact the characters?

Sarah has to face the demons that remain from her youth: abandonment, betrayal, heartbreak, lack of trust. Can she push through that final tug of the phoenix’s talons from the flames of the fire to be set free and soar? It is a lot to ask of herself. Safety seems to lie in the past. An unknown future is extremely frightening and her choice will affect them all.

Are you working on new writing projects? Should we expect to see more of Sarah or are there new stories you’re excited to explore.

Finding Sarah follows to path of Sarah Wilkinson, a young woman with a tragic childhood who made her way through her painting. she found love, lost it and has now been rewarded with a second chance at love. Now it is time for El Amir to have a chance at love. He gave up his love for Annie to honor his Arab traditions. And the idea of a sumissive, no-personality wife is not something he is interested in.

Enter young Arab heiress, Elena Al-Farooq, who is not only beautiful but who is spirited and rebellious sgsinst the tight societal restraints she has been forced into throughout her life. The two of them have an undeniable chemistry that keeps you turning the pages. Set against a politically fraught backdrop, Moroccan Sunset builds the drama with unrequited love, old-world traditions, and political intrigue.

Can Elena and El Amir find their way to happiness? Preorder Moroccan Sunset today or sign up on the CONNECT page for a chance to get a FREE copy hot off the press and signed by Nina!

Picture of Moroccan Sunset Cover

Moroccan Sunset: Dawn of a New Beginning