Friday, March 05, 2010

Meet Author Sarah Sundin

Today I'm delighted to have fellow author and World War Two buff Sarah Sundin join me. Sarah and I both belong to ACFW, and we met through the online loop. I took note when she sold a three-book series set during World War Two. Shocking isn't it :-) Her first book releases this month, so without further ado, let's move to the interview and learn more about her book, A Distant Melody.

Sarah, this is your first novel. Tell us a bit about your road to publication.

In 2000 I started writing and churned out two awful contemporary romances. However, I learned through this process, and began attending a critique group and writers’ conferences and reading books on writing craft. In 2003 my critique partners said the first novel in my World War II trilogy was ready, so I submitted A Distant Melody at Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. I received good feedback from published authors, editors, and agents—and began accumulating a stack of “good” rejection letters. They liked my writing, my story, and my characters—however, historicals weren’t selling. This continued through 2007.

I often felt discouraged, but the Lord made it obvious that He wanted me to finish the trilogy, so I kept plugging away. Then at Mount Hermon in March 2008, I heard, “We need historicals.” And there I was with my trilogy close to complete. I submitted to Vicki Crumpton at Revell, and in September I was offered a three-book contract.

How did the germ for the idea of A Distant Melody come to you?

The story arose from a “what if” question in another novel I was working on. What if a man and woman met at an event, truly clicked, and parted before exchanging contact info? Wouldn’t it be romantic if he went through great effort to track her down? Obviously it wouldn’t work in a contemporary setting—he’d “Google” her—but it made a sweet premise for a historical.

My husband and I watched a History Channel special on the US Eighth Air Force based in England which flew over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, and I had my link. My great-uncle was a B-17 bomber pilot with the Eighth, so I had access to family stories plus his personal letters. My research fascinated me so much, the story expanded to become a trilogy, with each book focusing on one of three brothers.

What drew you to the World War Two era? And what surprised you the most as you did your research?

Besides the cute clothes and men in uniform? First of all, there are so many dramatic stories and settings—a novelist’s dream. This was a time when ordinary men had to do extraordinary things, and when women first explored non-traditional roles—while remaining ladies. I think what surprised me most was how little I knew from high school and college history classes. Also how things changed during the war. For example, we all know food was rationed, but the details change. Coffee wasn’t rationed until November 1942, all rationing was eased up before the 1944 elections (isn’t that interesting?) and tightened up again afterward.

That's what I love about the time period, too. The way the country came together -- and the research to get the details right is so important! I’ve learned that my characters always teach me something as I write. What did you learn from yours?

My characters tend to deal with issues I think I’ve overcome—then when writing the book I realize I have a lot more to learn. In A Distant Melody, my characters deal with low self-esteem, being honest, and the importance of obedience, no matter the cost. Sometimes they said things or did things that surprised me—and taught me a lot. Bizarre, isn’t it?

I know what you mean. I think God has something for me to learn as I write each book. And sometimes those lessons come as I let the characters do what they want to. Tell us about A Distant Melody.

During World War II, Lt. Walter Novak flies a B-17 bomber in battles over Nazi-occupied Europe, while Allie Miller serves in the Red Cross against the wishes of her wealthy parents and controlling fiancé in California. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and begin a correspondence. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and who would you take?

England with my husband. I don’t think I could go there often enough. London is one of the few large cities in the world I actually like, much less love. And I’d really love to explore the English countryside, away from the tourist spots.

I'll go with you. The five days I had in London wasn't enough! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for this opportunity, Cara! It’s fun chatting with another World War II buff. Here are my links:

Web site:



Casey said...

I just finished this book and really enjoyed it! Great job Sarah! You and Cara have to be my favorite WWII novelists! You bring the era to life. :)

Sarah Sundin said...

Thanks, Casey! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book.

And thanks, Cara! It was fun doing this interview.

Kelley said...

Many blessings to you, Sarah. Thanks for sharing!

Be sure to check out my new book as well!


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