Interview with Sarah Sundin

» Posted on Aug 19, 2011 in Blog | 18 comments

Sarah SundinThis week I’m hosting Leanna Ellis with Plain Fear: Forsaken, Julie Lessman with A Heart Revealed, Miralee Ferrell with Love Finds You in Sundance, Wyoming, and Sarah Sundin withBlue Skies Tomorrow. If you want to enter the drawings, please leave a comment on one of the post during the week with your email address. I will not enter you without an email address (my way to contact you if you win). If you don’t want to leave an email address, another way you can enter is to email me at margaretdaley@gmail.com. The drawings end Sunday (August 21st) evening.

Interview with Sarah Sundin:

What made you start writing?

A dream. Literally. Growing up, I always made up stories, but I knew they weren’t any good. In 2000—after college, pharmacy school, and three babies—I woke one morning from a dream with characters who wouldn’t leave me alone. I played with their story while scrubbing toilets and changing diapers and realized I had to write their story. That book will never and should never be published, but it got me started.

 How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I started writing in 2000 and signed my first contract in 2008. That includes five years of rejection letters.

 How do you handle rejections?

First comes a numb shock, then a self-pity phase—which gets shorter over the years. I allow myself a day or two to wallow, then I get to work. The period after a rejection is a time of prayerful evaluation for me. Since God got me started in writing instantaneously, I know He could take it away as quickly. After rejections, I’d take it back to Him—was I really called to write? Did He still want me to write? Did He want me to write something more marketable than historicals were five years ago? What did I need to change in my writing? In myself?

 Why do you write?

I write because I can’t not write. I love it. And the Lord has made it clear He wants me to write, and not to do so would be disobedience. Also, the stories and characters won’t loosen their grip on me.

 What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

I might be working more hours as a pharmacist now that my children are older. Or I might be doing what I was doing before writing struck me—pathetic attempts at whatever craft was fashionable with stay-at-home moms. I tried stamping, stenciling, scrapping—I’m horrible at that kind of thing.

 What are you working on right now?

I signed another contract with Revell for a new series, tentatively titled Wings of the Nightingale. It follows three World War II flight nurses who discover love, friendship, and peril in the skies and on the shores of the Mediterranean. I just finished the first novel in the series, which will release Fall 2012. It features a You’ve Got Mail-like anonymous pen pal relationship between a loner nurse and an Army engineer burdened by the legacy of his infamous father.

 Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

Yes and no. I try to think like my characters do, so a bit of me goes into each one. I may never have experienced what my heroine is going through, but I know what it’s like to feel rejected, joyful, angry, terrified, ashamed, or content. However, I’m careful not to make my characters just like me. How boring would that be?

 Tell us about the book you have out right now.

Blue Skies Tomorrow is the third book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II. Each book stands alone.
Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

 Do you have any advice for other writers?

Be teachable and learn as much as you can about the craft of writing and the publishing process. Join a writers’ group, attend conferences, read books on writing, and join American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Keep writing, keep submitting, and keep praying.

 How important is faith in your books?

I’m middle-of-the-road as far as Christian fiction goes. I don’t write evangelistic novels with a goal of leading people to the Lord, but I also don’t write with just a whiff of Christianity. My characters struggle with aspects of their faith, talk about God, pray, and grow in their walks with the Lord. The spiritual lessons they learn help them deal with the problems they face.

 What themes do you like to write about?

I don’t usually pick themes, but find they arise from my characters. The first novel deals with obedience and sacrifice and honesty, the second with pride and shame and trust, and the third with courage and misguided efforts to earn grace. Pride does seem to run as an undercurrent through all three books, but I feel pride lies at the base of most, if not all, sin—the crazy idea that we could ever know better than God.

What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

That’s like asking which is my favorite child. I have three children—unique and lovable in their own ways. Some days I like one better than another. Don’t gasp. You do it too. But I love them equally. It’s the same with my books. I adore them, am exasperated by them, wish they’d grow up and edit themselves, and then relish their cute little selves.

 What is your writing schedule like?

Since my children are in middle school and high school—and the oldest away at college—I do the bulk of my writing during the school day. I also get some work done on my laptop in the evening with my family while they watch TV.

 

18 Comments

  1. I have only read “A Memory Between Us” which was awesome but have the series on my wish list. I love reading stories set during WWII as this is during my “very early” yrs and I do still remember some of the songs from that time since my Mom listened to the radio and and some of the 78rpm records. We kids did not find out until my Dad died in ’92 that their song was “Always” ( I’ll be loving you, Always”). Mom and Dad always signed their cards to each other “Love Always”.. A yr after my Dad died I found a music box that played that song and gave to my Mom. I now have it and it is my very favorite thing.
    I am also looking forward to your new series. Please keep writing as so many of us do enjoy your stories. Thanks fore sharing with us today.

    misskallie2000

    • That is such a sweet story! When my grandmother died, we found the letters my grandfather had written her during the war (he was in the Pacific in the Navy). He called her his “little girl.” We found that funny – Grandma was a strong, feisty woman, and not the “little girl” type. But we also found it touching. They had a strong, deep love that lasted a lifetime.

  2. If there’s a drawing, you can skip me. I just dropped by to say…I LOVED Sarah’s latest book, Blue Skies Tomorrow. If you want to read my review of it, go to http://danwalshbooks.blogspot.com. It’s my latest post. I give it 5 stars. I’m not sending you there to read my blog. I’m a terrible blogger. I just want to brag on Sarah’s book.

    Keep writing, Sarah! (one who, like you, can’t not write).

    Dan Walsh

    • Thanks, Dan 🙂 I’m with you on the terrible blogger thing.

  3. WONDERFUL interview, Sarah and Margaret — it’s SO much fun to find out more about my favorite authors.

    And, Sarah — five years of rejection letters? Me too!! I tallied 45 on APMP — how ’bout you? We can see which of us is the Queen of Rejections!! 🙂

    Can’t wait to read the new book, girl, AND give you a hug at ACFW!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

    • Hey, Julie!! Looking forward to that hug at ACFW! I did not keep count of rejections, but I don’t think I hit the 40s. A few years in the middle I didn’t submit. Whenever I’d get discourages, someone would tell me Ethel Herr’s story (and if you haven’t met Ethel, you’re missing out on a TREASURE!!) – she had 15 years of rejection letters. Ouch.

  4. Great interview. I am looking forward to reading Sarah’s books.

    Blessings,
    Jo

  5. OMG, if I were in your shoes, I don’t know how in the world I would’ve made it through 5 years of rejection! WOW!

    And I must say your upcoming series with the You’ve Got Mail-spin sounds particularly wonderful. 😉 To see that storyline tied together with a historical flair would be the icing on the cake! Can’t wait for that!

    Please sign me up for the giveaway. 🙂

    • Christy, I made it through by prayer, an AMAZING supportive group of friends, and old-fashioned stubbornness 🙂

      My next book doesn’t follow the storyline of YGM completely – just the basic set-up. I use the fabulous Jimmy Stewart movie “The Shop Around the Corner” (which YGM is based on) as the stimulus for an anonymous letter writing campaign.

  6. Sandy, I am so looking forward to reading your latest novel… I loved this interview w/ Margaret 🙂

    • Thanks, Karen! I’m so glad Margaret let me come visit!

  7. Great Interview! I’ve been looking forward to reading more of Sarah’s work! Can’t wait to dive into Blue Skies Tomorrow! Thanks for the great giveaway!
    Paige

  8. No need to enter me for Sarah’s wonder book as I already have it.

    I just want to say that a very sad day for me was when I turned the last page of Blue Skies Tomorrow and had to say goodbye to the Novak brothers and the Wings of Glory series. This is one series of books that will always have a very special place on my book shelves. I can’t say enough about the series. Sarah has such a way with her characters that they walk right off the page…either that or I walked into the book 🙂 I felt a part of the story from the very first page to the last.

    On Sarah’s blog date May 9, 2011 she has a video of when she took a flight in a B-17 and she literally takes you on a tour while they’re in flight. AWESOME!!!

    Sarah, I am so thankful that you didn’t give up writing after five years of rejections. I’m sure God was honing your skills so that you could be the master storyteller that you are. Thank you for being so obedient!

    May God continue to bless your work!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

    • Cindy – thank you for all your kind comments!! I’m thrilled how much you’ve enjoyed the series. It was hard for me to say good-bye to the Novak brothers too, but the cast for the new series is growing on me 🙂

      And that B-17 ride was a blast!

  9. Wow… 5 years of rejection and yet you kept on. Kudos to you! Thanks for entering me in the drawing.

  10. Pegg- kudos to God 🙂 He kept me going. Sometimes through prayer and study, sometimes through friends who would say exactly the encouraging word I needed – or slapped me upside the head when I needed it 🙂

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