Here is part two of my interview with Sarah Sundin.
As noted in one of the comments to part one, you are big on accuracy. Why do you think accuracy so important in historical fiction?
Because inaccuracy totally bugs me. I’ll never forget a Little House on the Prairie episode where someone gave Laura a peanut butter sandwich. I had just read a biography about George Washington Carver and I knew peanut butter hadn’t been invented at that time. Things like that pull an informed reader out of the story-world you’ve worked hard immersing them in. However, the more I research, the more I realize I don’t know. Despite my best efforts, there will be errors, which makes me cringe, but it can’t be avoided. A deeper reason for accuracy is to enrich the story. Those details add vibrancy and make the reader feel like she’s right there.
Will you give me a quick synopsis of your books? When are the release dates?
The “Wings of Glory” series follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II.
A Distant Melody releases in March 2010. Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval—even marry a man she doesn’t love. Lt. Walter Novak—fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women—takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. 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?
Under His Wings (working title) releases Fall 2010: Maj. Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge—until he meets Lt. Ruth Doherty, a striking nurse with a shameful secret. While Jack leads his squadron in the most savage air battles of the war, Ruth trains to become a flight nurse to better support her orphaned siblings. Can they confront their deepest sins, face their greatest fears, and learn to trust and to love?
Till Blue Skies Return (working title) releases Fall 2011. Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him to court Helen Carlisle, a widowed 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. Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, while Helen takes a job at a dangerous munitions yard and faces an even graver menace in her own home. Can they both find the courage to face their challenges?
What was the biggest struggle on the road to publication?
My biggest struggle was fighting discouragement in the years I received “good” rejection letters. For five years I heard, “We don’t want historicals. Do you have any chick lit?” I didn’t. I’m just not a pedicure/spa/$500 purse kind of girl.
I often wondered if I was wasting my time writing. I kept giving it back to God and asking for His direction, and He kept telling me to finish the series. Then at the 2008 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, I heard, “Chick lit is dead. We need historicals.” There I was with two polished manuscripts and the third book completely outlined. I submitted to Vicki Crumpton at Revell, and in September they offered me a three-book contract.
What advice do you have for newbie authors?
Be teachable and soak up all the good instruction you can. Read books on writing craft, and then read your favorite authors and analyze how they did it.
Join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)! Their e-zine, e-mail loop, and monthly courses are outstanding—like a mini-writers’ conference in your inbox every day.
Join a local writers’ group if available or an on-line critique group. Not only will your writing improve, but you’ll meet other writers. We’re an odd lot really. We work in solitude. We talk to our characters. We have strange interests (how many women do you know who get excited about B-17 manuals?). We need each other.
Don’t submit to agents and editors until you’re ready. That means a complete manuscript, positive feedback from experienced writers, and enough knowledge of the publishing industry to know how to submit properly. You want your first impression to be stellar.
Lastly, when you’re ready, submit and keep submitting. Keep polishing your craft, and keep praying for the Lord’s guidance.