Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the joy of interviewing versatile, multi-published author Sarah Hamaker. I met Sarah a few years ago at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference and liked her instantly—and not just because she’s a fellow Sarah-with-an-H—and I think you’ll like her too. Sarah’s here to share about her latest romantic suspense novel.
Welcome, Sarah! Please tell us about your book The Dark Reckoning.
A mysterious list of names links a dangerous past to the present.
Great hook! What is the primary focus of your story?
The third book in my Cold War Legacy series (but each one is a standalone mystery), The Dark Reckoning focuses on how the decisions we make in the past often come back with unintended consequences in the future.
What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
The central mystery in the book took place in 1980s East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall, so it was fascinating to explore that time period and how the people there lived under the watchful eyes of the Stasi (secret police). It’s a time period that’s always fascinated me, probably because I grew up hearing about it, but it’s a subject not often appearing in fiction books.
So true. Such a fascinating era and perfect for romantic suspense. Other than thrills and chills, what do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Hope! A central theme in each of the Cold War Legacy books is that mistakes in our past don’t have to define our futures, that redemption is possible through Christ, and that it’s never too late for redemption.
I can see you’re passionate about that important message. Do you have other reasons you love writing?
Because it allows the stories in my head to release. I love creating ordinary characters and placing them in extraordinary situations. If I didn’t write, my brain would be overcrowded with plots and characters.
Yes! I relate. So, when did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
Ever since I was a child, I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. It’s something I’ve always felt God calling me to do. I studied journalism and communications in college, and worked for several trade association magazines in my early career. I segued into freelance writer when our first child came along and have been writing for pay ever since. But fiction writing is my true love, and I’ve been seriously working on writing romantic suspense for the past decade or so.
Why do you write romantic suspense?
Because I love mixing a suspenseful mystery with love. I like to describe what I write as the hero and heroine fall in love while running for their lives, which usually resonates with readers and tells them exactly the kind of books I write.
What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
That it’s hard work and that it’s actually work, if that makes sense. We have to treat our writing as a business and devote serious time to it or we won’t get our books written on time. Just because we make stuff up doesn’t mean we don’t have to research and fact-check and plot our stories—we do, so the reader is easily transported into the world we’ve created and believes our characters are acting and reacting like real people.
Writing is not only honest-to-goodness hard work, but it’s also a ministry. Are you involved in any other ministries?
My husband and I are therapeutic foster parents with UMFS, a Virginia-based private foster-to-adopt agency, and I’m a UMFS Foster Parent Ambassador because I’m passionate about fostering. The need is so great for foster parents across the United States, and my prayer is that more Christians would get involved in this vital ministry. So far, we’ve had two placements (in addition to our four bio kids, who range in age from 14 to 20). Our first was an autistic preschooler, whom we had for more than 2 years. Our current placement is a nonverbal autistic kindergartner, whom we’ve had for more than year.
What you might not realize is how many people you interact with as a foster parent. There’s the foster child, bio parents/relatives, social workers, CASA workers (court appointed special advocate), guardian ad litem (child’s attorney), city/county attorney, judge, and the child’s teachers, counselors, therapists, etc. To all of these people, we’re able to share our lives, including our faith when appropriate. Especially when you have a harder-to-place child like one with autism and developmental delays, they see our love for this child and our willingness to do the hard work necessary to advocate for his good and his future, and we freely admit we do it as part of our Christian calling. Talk about a way to share Christ with a hurting world!
I love this so much. Between parenting, advocating for fostering, and writing, how do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?
A few years ago, I realized I was leaving my fiction writing to the end of my day. I would put it on my daily to-do list but because I left it until other things were completed, wouldn’t always find the time to write. So I changed things, and now I write first thing in the morning before checking email or logging onto the Internet. I only open Word on my computer and I write at least one scene or chapter, then begin my “regular” day. That has helped me to finish books more quickly and to meet deadlines more easily.
I’m so glad you found the routine that works best for you! What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?
I’m an avid knitter, but I tend to knit simple things because I get distracted and will lose my place on anything with a complicated pattern. This means I tend to knit blankets mostly. I do this while watching BritBox, my other obsession. I asked my four kids for a subscription a couple of years ago for Christmas/Birthday/Mother’s Day gift all rolled into one, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Most evenings, I unwind with a cup of decaf tea, my knitting bag, a cat or two on my lap and BritBox on my tablet.
BritBox is the best! And so are cats. So what are you working on next? Please tell us about your next project.
I’m working on a Christmas romantic suspense novella as part of a collection with other Christian romantic suspense authors. Tentatively titled Christmas Cold Case, here’s the tagline: All she wants for Christmas is to solve her parents’ murders.
What a fabulous tagline! I’m intrigued. Thank you for sharing with us, Sarah!
To learn more about Sarah and her books, please visit Sarah’s website at https://sarahhamakerfiction.com/
Writing for Him,
Sarah Sundin’s website: https://www.sarahsundin.com/
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