Sarah, what’s your tagline for this intriguing title?
A suspicious online romance reconnects an agoraphobe and an old friend.
Wow – there’s a lot of information and curiosity tied up in that word, agoraphobe. What inspired you to write this book?
Believe it or not, Illusion of Love is loosely based on something that happened to a friend of mine. I can’t give any specific details without giving away one of the plot twists, but sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.
Amen to that. I think we all have a few incredible things from our lives that would fit in a novel. So in spite of the close connection with your friend, what prompted you to write this book around this topic?
Sometimes as a writer, you have a story that demands to be told. This was one of those stories. It took me many years to get it just right, but in the end, I was able to tell Jared and Mary’s story in a way that I think will resonate with readers.
It’s nice to hear that you didn’t rush things. Resonating with readers is one of our goals as writers called by God. When did you first recognize His call to write for Him?
As a child, all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a writer. An introverted bookworm, I devoured books, especially Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, The Happy Hollisters, and The Hardy Boys before graduating to Agatha Christie and other Golden Age crime writers. With that as my background, it’s no wonder I write romantic suspense today.
What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
How publishing works! When I got my first book contract, the first question I had was “Where can I buy your book?” as if my book were already in a bookstore or on Amazon at that very moment. There’s a publishing process that nonwriters don’t quite understand, whether you’re traditionally published or go the indie route, and that process generally takes months, not days or weeks.
Amen to that. Have you had a particularly touching moment with a reader?
Anytime a reader takes the time to let me know they enjoyed my book touches my heart. Writing is such a personal, yet solitary profession that hearing from readers genuinely thrills us. But for me (and I suspect many writers) it’s not because we crave attention or adoration from fans—it’s because we love to hear how our story touched their lives, even if only for a fleeting moment. If one of my books brings a smile to someone’s face or helps them pass a pleasant hour or two, then I’ve done my job well. And if a reader takes the time to tell me about it? Then that reader has made my day.
Indeed. Those rewards are some of the richest.
Do you have pets and, if so, do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
I have three Siamese cats—Finn, and litter mates Odin and Ember. Back before the pandemic sent everyone home (and everyone’s still home in our neck of the woods), the cats glommed onto me as their primary source of attention during the day. Nowadays, with six people to choose from during the day, the cats still hang around me if possible. Ember (the only female) tends to have a very loud meow (as do many Siamese felines), and as I write this, she is meowing like her heart is breaking. She’s been known to meow so loudly outside my closed office door during online meetings, that other attendees can hear her. So sometimes, she can be a hindrance to my concentration if she’s being particularly loud when I’m trying to write.
Everyone struggles with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?
In the fall, I started getting up a half hour earlier in order to have dedicated writing time first thing in the morning (not that I hit my computer immediately—I have to give my brain time to wake up first). That has helped me make more progress on my current work-in-progress.
Do you have a favorite library memory you can share?
I don’t have a specific favorite memory, but I’ve always loved libraries. The promise of finding something new and exciting, or meeting old familiar friends is so enticing. When our four children were toddlers, we deliberately took them at least once a week to the library to introduce them to the wonders within those shelves. Now that our kids are older, they’re able to walk to the library by themselves and often do. That warms my heart, knowing that at least four Gen Z-ers will continue to see libraries as something vital and necessary to their lives.
Tell us about your next project.
I’m working on editing book two in a planned trilogy called “The Cold War Legacy.” I plan on indie publishing book one and book two sometime in 2021.
Thank you, Sarah, for some great tips and insights.
May all that you read be uplifting.