I have a special treat today for my weekly “What I’m Reading Wednesday” post! This week’s book is by Christian historical author Sarah Sundin (I have previously posted about two other of her novels). Her latest novel, “With Every Letter,” is the first book of her Wings of the Nightingale series, and was released last month.
But rather than doing my usual post about the book and author, Sarah herself offers some insight into her novels!
Here is my Q and A with Sarah:
Q: Your novels include an amazing amount of historical detail. How much time do you spend researching per novel?
A: That’s hard to pick out. I do a lot of research before I start the story to make sure the story works in the context of history, but then I do “spot” research during the writing phase for the little details. While writing the Wings of Glory series, I didn’t have contracts or deadlines, so I had the luxury of unlimited research time. I probably spent about 3 years overall just researching, plus another 3 years actual writing and rewriting. With the Wings of the Nightingale series, I have a year to write each book. I’d estimate about one-quarter of my writing time is research now.
Q: The Wings of Glory as well as the Wings of the Nightingale series takes place during WWII. What is it about that era you connect with?
A: I love so much about the era, from the music to the uniforms. But mostly, I’m drawn to the sheer scope of the war and how everyone pulled together for a common cause. This was an age when ordinary men learned they could do extraordinary things, and women explored new roles—while remaining ladies.
Q: If you had lived during WWII, what job do you think you would have pursued and why?
A: That depends on where I was in life. If I weren’t married, I might still have pursued pharmacy. There was a serious shortage of pharmacists during the war, and women were actively recruited. The idea of being a pioneer—but in a safe and clean profession (I’m a wimp)—would have appealed to me. If I were married with kids, I probably would have stayed at home but immersed myself in volunteering and community work.
Q: You have turned out so many novels during your literary career. How do you conquer writer’s block?
A: I don’t really get writer’s block. I have the opposite problem of too much story, too little time. When I don’t know where to start, usually at the start of a chapter, I do two things. First I read a few chapters of what I’ve already written to get back in the flow of the story. If that doesn’t work, I give myself permission to write garbage. I write something, anything, to get started, knowing I’ll come back and delete it later. The funny thing is, those openings often end up being my favorites and I rarely delete them.
Q: You are a wife, a mother, a pharmacist, a Sunday school teacher and a women’s small group leader, where do you find the time to write?
A: Replace “find the time” with “make the time.” I schedule it into my days and weeks, even when I started ten years ago. At first it was two hours a day during naptime. Now it’s forty hours a week, primarily in school hours, but also bits and pieces on the weekends and evenings—for example, I do a lot of things on my laptop on the couch with my family while we watch TV.
Q: What are you reading right now?
A: I just finished “Flight of the Earls” by Michael Reynolds, which comes out in January 2013. It’s a beautiful story about Irish immigrants in the 1840s. I got to read this debut novel for endorsement, and I think it will be very well received. Excellent writing.
Read more about Sarah’s novels and follow her blog on her website.
Thank you, Sarah!