Sarah Sundin is a speaker and writer whose first novel, A Distant Melody, is set to be released in January 2010 by Revell. She has just submitted her second book and was kind enough to answer my questions. For more information, visit her website.
What town do you reside in?
Antioch, California. Yep, the Antioch made infamous by the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping. Honestly, it’s a nice, family-oriented suburb that still has a small-town feel.
When did you first start writing?
January 6, 2000. How’s that for exact? 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.
Who are your major influences (in writing)?
That’s hard to pinpoint when you’ve read a lot. It may be cliché, but an author I keep coming back to is Jane Austen. She has it all—laugh-out-loud humor, snappy dialogue, well-drawn characters, and endings that make you feel all warm and gooey inside. Another thing I love about Austen is that the rogues turn out to be—well, rogues, while the heroes are quiet men of integrity. Most romances hold up the “bad boy” as hero, and I don’t think that’s healthy. Too many women follow that example and choose charm over character—and regret it.
What draws you to the World War II era?
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. Plus, I’ve always been fond of that generation, my grandparents’ generation. As a pharmacy resident at a VA hospital, I had the honor of caring for many of these men. As a rule, they were cheerful, kind, and chivalrous, with the solid strength of someone who has been tested—and passed. What more could you want in a hero?
What do you enjoy most about writing historical fiction?
The creative, dreamy part of me loves to lose myself in the era, but the science nerd in me loves the research. I have to be careful not to get sucked into the research black hole. I need enough research to make the story accurate and realistic, but at some point, I have to stop and actually write the story.