Time seems to fly. It seems it was only a few years ago when you published your first book, A Distant Melody. How has being published changed your life?
My life is definitely busier! As a hobby writer, I could go on endless research rabbit trails and contemplate plot points and characters until I had them just right. Now that I’m writing on deadline, I have to be more focused and intentional in the use of my time.
Christian Historical Fiction seems to be your main genre, is it your favorite to write?
Yes, it is. I wrote two contemporary romances at first—and I can see myself writing a contemporary someday—but I love the combination of story and history.
As a writer, I’m sure your reading time might be limited from what it once was, but please share what is your favorite book you’ve read of all time? Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
– Favorite book recently? Jocelyn Green’s Widow of Gettysburg.
– Favorite new release? Liz Tolsma’s Snow on the Tulips.
What are you reading right now? Karen Barnett’s Mistaken, set during Prohibition.
(Be sure to come back and check out next week’s Coming Soon from the Pen post with Liz Tolsma! – Link will work after Tuesday, next.)
I know for myself, I read tons of books as a child, but the first book I really remember was The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. It was a historical setting with a strong female character headed on an adventure. Then later as a young adult the book series that changed my life and introduced me to the world of Christian Historical Fiction was Liz Curtis Higgs and her Lowlands Biblical Fiction series. What was the first book you really remember reading that stuck with you and gave you a love for books?
I was raised by big-time readers and I was always a reader myself, so I can’t pick out a first. From Go, Dog! Go! to the Little House on the Prairie series to the Betsy, Tacy, & Tib books, I read everything I could and loved most of what I read.
Other than writing, what type of crafts have you tried? Are there any that became really hobbies and stick with you? I know I personally haven’t figured out how to read, cross stich and quilt all at the same time. 🙂
I’m afraid I’m not crafty. I used to love to sew—I even sewed my own wedding dress!—but once I started writing, I lost all interest in sewing. Only a tiny portion of my brain is creative, and it’s now occupied by stories.
What is the best writing research field trip you’ve taken? Where did you go? What did you do or see?
While researching On Distant Shores, I went to Italy with my family in 2011. As tourists, we saw Rome and Pisa and Florence and Pompeii. But as a writer, I was also able to visit ancient Greek temples at Paestum (where the US forces landed on Salerno Bay in September 1943) and the beaches of Anzio. It was amazing to feel the sand between my toes, smell the air, and hear the cicadas.
Something that I have found to love in most of the books that I read lately is the act of putting quotes at the beginning of chapters. What is your opinion of this practice in publishing? Do you have a favorite quote? Favorite scripture?
I like the practice, although I don’t do it myself. My favorite quotes and Scriptures vary according to what I’m going through at the time. One I like right now is James 1:5, which is also a theme verse in On Distant Shores: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
World War II history is an apparent passion in your heart. Do you have family history of your own that drew you to this time period, or is this a fascination of the heart?
I’ve always been drawn to the era. My grandfather served as a Navy corpsman during the war, my great-uncle was a B-17 pilot, and my grandmother told stories about life on the Home Front. My father watched a lot of war movies, which—ironically—I found boring as a girl. But I think they sank deep inside me.
Can you share some of the exciting things God is doing in your life right now?
In my own life for quite some time I’ve been very comfortable with God’s purpose and plan. This past year, God has been teaching me to trust His purpose and plan in my children’s lives—even when the plans aren’t the same as the plans I had in my heart. His ways are always best.
When I started A Distant Melody, my debut novel, it was meant to be a standalone novel, but the story ended in 1943, with two more years left in the war, and—conveniently—two more pilot brothers in the family. The Wings of Glory series flew together at that point. Sorry for the pun. When I started brainstorming the Wings of the Nightingale series, I always pictured it as a series, following three flight nurses who become unlikely friends.
My blog is http://www.sarahsundin.blogspot.com I post World War II-related articles on most Mondays (I’m running a series on flight nurses in August), and on Thursdays I feature novels I’ve read and loved. In addition, I post “Today in World War II History” tidbits each day.
I have read different places about the dialogue of choosing this title, could tell us a little more about that? Is the finished title your working title as well?
My working title was To Every Shore, so On Distant Shores is pretty close. At titling time, my publisher sends me a questionnaire about the book and its themes, and I list several potential titles. There’s often some back and forth, and then a title is chosen. When Revell suggested On Distant Shores, I liked it immediately.
Watching publishing over the last few years I noticed a trend in topics and time periods that often mesh or are related. If you could write any and all books that you desired with no limits, who would your characters be and where would they be set?
I’ve never been one to follow trends. My favorite poem as a youth was “The Road Less Traveled.” So when I started writing, I wrote what I liked—World War II. At that time, it wasn’t selling, but I kept plowing on—granted, with lots of prayer for God to direct me to a new path if He wanted. I’m thankful that interest in World War II fiction returned.
For those of us, who cannot wait for more from Sarah Sundin, please tell us more about In Perfect Time… (Oh! You have to also check out Sarah’s blog post about her newest contract for a new series to start in 2015! Waves of Freedom – tentative series and individual titles.)
The third book in the Wings of the Nightingale series is at my publisher’s now and is due for release in August 2014.
World War II flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, but C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper is immune to her charms. Throughout Italy and southern France, as she evacuates the wounded and he delivers paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them where they don’t want to go.
It seems to be mixed feelings on book reviews – whether to read them or avoid them when you’re the author behind the book. What is the best review you have ever received?
I’ve been blessed with lots of good and touching reviews, but I think the reader e-mails touch me the most. I’ve heard from readers who say one of my books helped them through a divorce, or that they read it in the hospital while recovering from surgery—or when a loved one was ill. It’s so amazing that God can use stories to minister to people who are hurting, and I’m humbled and honored to be used in the process.
Who do you think your number one fan is if you had to name one?
My mom. Hands down. She’s also a really tough critic! And a world-class publicist—I receive so many e-mails from people who heard about my books through my mom.
In my family we love books and we’re just starting on a homeschool adventure with my preschooler. What was your school like? What were you like in school? Tell us about a good memory.
I loved school thoroughly. While the social aspects were often difficult (I was unpopular and sometimes bullied), those experiences helped make me the person I am, so I would never wish them away. But the academic part I loved. I was the teacher’s pet, “Hermione Granger” type student who read too much, raised her hand too much, and thought she knew all the answers. Wonder why I was unpopular? 🙂
Please share the history of your book cover…
I love this book cover! Of course I’ve loved all my book covers. Revell’s art department does amazing work. The model on the cover does look like my heroine, Georgie, but more importantly, she captures Georgie’s sunny and sociable personality. Doesn’t she look like someone you want as a friend? The photographer (Brandon Hill) tracked down the extremely rare WWII flight nurse uniform and made sure the hair and makeup are period-appropriate. And just for fun, the photo of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius was taken by my husband on our 2011 vacation. He even has his name on the back cover! He was tickled.
Closing words of encouragement you’d like to share with you readers?
The Lord has amazing plans for your life. Seek His wisdom, relax in His sovereignty, and step forward in courage.