As you may know from a few of my previous interviews, I'm always on the lookout for new talent. I peruse the shelves of my local Christian bookstore, or my local used bookstore, hoping to find my next favorite author.
As providence would have it, one day I was looking through the shelves of Lifeway Christian Bookstore, and found a little jewel. I'm totally infatuated with military romance, and have been for a long time. So, imagine my extreme excitement when I saw a book by little-known author Sarah Sundin. I immediately snatched her book from the shelf and took it home. Needless to say, I was hooked!
Sarah Sundin is the author of ten historical novels, including The Sea Before Us. Her novels When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award and won the INSPY Award. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.
If you enjoy a good military romance, check out my interview with her below and find out more about her.
AJ: It was by pure happenstance that I came across one of your books in Lifeway Christian Bookstore. (The cover caught my attention immediately since I’m infatuated with military romances.) I read "With Every Letter" in just a couple of days. I admit, I'm hooked! Can you tell us a little about you and what led you to become a writer.
SS: Thank you for taking a chance on a new writer! I never planned to write novels. I majored in chemistry and became a pharmacist, partly because the profession allowed me to work on-call and stay home with my children. In the year 2000, I had an idea for a novel, and it simply wouldn’t leave me alone. I was compelled to write it, so I did. And then another. It was surreal for me, as if I’d been plopped down in another profession. Since then, I haven’t looked back.
AJ: Having read quite a few of your books, I can tell that your passion is for the members of the military. What led you to be so passionate about this topic?
SS: My grandfather served in the US Navy during World War II, and my great-uncle was a B-17 bomber pilot during the war. They were both storytellers, so I grew up hearing their stories. When I decided to write WWII novels, I looked to their stories for inspiration. Doing the research just fueled my interest. Ironically, all that research involved carting my kids around touring B-17s and aircraft carriers and military museums—and all that history led my youngest son to join the Navy!
AJ: Your newest book, "The Sea Before Us", introduces us to Lt. Wyatt Paxton and Dorothy Fairfax. Can you tell us a little about them? How do they evolve from the beginning to the end of the story?
SS: Lt. Wyatt Paxton is an American naval officer, the quiet, steady, protective sort. A few years earlier, he hurt both his brothers, and he feels like the Prodigal Son who can never go home. He’s working hard to repay his debts, longing for forgiveness and reconciliation. He has to learn to fully accept God’s forgiveness and to stop punishing himself for his sins.
Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax is an officer in Britain’s Women’s Royal Naval Service. She’s enthusiastic and animated and artistic. Her family has been shattered by the war, and her grieving father ignores her. She’s desperate to save him. She has to learn to trust the Lord and to accept herself the way God made her.
AJ: What was your goal, or mission, as you wrote this book? What would you like your readers to take away from it?
SS: I don’t usually write with a mission, but the Sunrise at Normandy series, because it deals with three
estranged brothers, comes with an overarching theme of forgiveness and reconciliation attached. I hope readers will explore broken relationships in their own lives and grow in forgiveness. I also hope readers will come to see light even in their darkest times.
AJ: What was the most challenging thing you found in writing "The Sea Before Us"?
SS: Voice. I’m a California girl from New England stock. Wyatt comes from Texas, and Dorothy is English. It was challenging to make their voices authentic but not cartoonish, and also to convey the cultural differences in a respectful manner.
AJ: What do you like to do when you're not writing? Have you had many adventures in researching for your books?
SS: In my “spare” time I teach women’s Bible studies and Sunday school to fourth- and fifth-graders. I adore travel and love research trips. For "The Sea Before Us", I had the privilege of visiting England and Normandy. My husband and I visited World War II sites in London, Southwick House near Portsmouth (Allied Naval Headquarters for D-day), and we took the ferry from Portsmouth to Ouistreham in Normandy, similar to the path Wyatt takes in his destroyer on D-day. In Normandy we saw so much, and my husband was such a good sport. Granted, it’s mostly manly stuff he loves. When we were traipsing through German gun batteries above Omaha Beach, I told him, “Aren’t you glad I’m not writing novels set in pretty little English tearooms?” The look on his face! Yes, he was glad.
AJ: I often ask my fellow authors if they can visualize the characters of their own works. If a movie were to be made about this book, who would play your main characters, and why?
SS: I’m an oddball among authors. I see my characters perfectly in my head, but I don’t “cast” celebrities to play them. For my publisher’s cover questionnaires, the part I hate most is finding pictures of people who look like my characters. I rarely find anyone who looks like the person in my mind. I did find a
historical photo of a pilot who was the spitting image of Wyatt, and classic movie actress Greer Garson had the luminous redheaded beauty I envisioned for Dorothy. But no modern celebrities come close.
AJ: Finally, how can other authors, or readers find you on social media?
SS: I love connecting with people on social media! You can find me at…
My Website Facebook Twitter
If you'd like to know more about Sarah Sundin, you can click on any of the above links, or pictures, to be redirected to her sites and pages.