February greetings from Marti Pieper in lovely Mount Dora, Florida, where we’re not quite sure what season it is. This has been the coldest winter of our ten-plus years in Florida, but I realize “coldest” is a relative term for most of the rest of the country.
But we have much better things to discuss today than the ever-changing weather. My guest is friend and author Sarah Sundin, writer of award-winning novels and wearer of multiple hats. Let’s find out about some of them—and much more—right now.
Welcome, Sarah! Please Tell us about your book.
The Sea Before Us is the first book in the Sunrise at Normandy series. As D-day approaches, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton is teamed up with Dorothy Fairfax, a British officer. Once they piece together family and reconnaissance photos to map Normandy, will Wyatt’s bombardment plans destroy what Dorothy loves most?
Ahh, another World War II series to get your fans (like me) hooked! What is the primary focus of your book?
The novel focuses on the naval aspects of D-day and the build-up to that pivotal event, and on the effects of five years of war on the British. Both Wyatt and Dorothy have gone through devastating times. Wyatt has adapted by leaning on the Lord and focusing on the light, while Dorothy has reacted by leaning away and seeing only the dark. Their relationship causes them both to grow.
How has God used the message of your book in your own life?
Dorothy is terrified she’ll lose her only remaining family, and she works hard to control the shattered fragments. When I was writing this book, our eighteen-year-old son left for a three-year deployment to Japan with the U.S. Navy. It’s one thing to say you trust the Lord with your loved ones, and another to actually do it. The Lord showed me—is still showing me—how I try to cradle my children in my hands, forgetting that they’re in His hands, a far better place to be!
Amen! What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
Wyatt is a Texas boy. Dorothy is a London girl. I’m, like, from California. It was challenging to get their voices right when I first started—the vocabulary, the phrasing, and the cultural mindset too. But it turned out to be so much fun, especially when I read the book out loud. In their voices. With really bad accents. I could only do this when my family wasn’t home. Although the dog and cat gave me strange looks.
Pretty sure I see a Facebook live video moment happening here, Sarah! Tell us about your funniest moment with a reader.
There’s a child out in the world who bears the name of one of my characters. I won’t say which one. The mother sent me the best email. Turns out one of my novels put her in an amorous mood toward her husband—I write clean Christian romance! Really I do!—and nine months later, said child was born.
And the winner of the most unusual answer to this common interview question is–you! Moving right along, please tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.
I received an email from a young mother who had recently lost her husband in the war in Iraq. She said my novel Blue Skies Tomorrow, in which the heroine is a war widow, really helped in her healing. The hero in the novel is a B-17 bomber pilot during World War II, so when the B-17s came on tour to my reader friend’s town, she and her daughter toured the planes—and sent me the pictures, which were both charming and heartbreaking. Her email and the pictures made me cry. To know that God used a story, which I wrote only with the goal of entertaining and uplifting, to bring healing—well, it gave me goosebumps.
That’s great. What ministries are you involved in, and why?
I teach Sunday school to fourth- and fifth-graders. What fun! Those kids keep me hopping, keep me laughing, and challenge me to think out my faith—and to live it out. And, let me tell you, it’s the best training for public speaking. If they’re bored, they let you know. The boys start wrestling, and the girls start braiding each other’s hair. You learn to be animated really quickly!
I bet! Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I’m also a pharmacist. I’ve worked one day a week since my oldest son was born twenty-five years ago. My scientific education has allowed me to tackle stories that have technical components—the hero in The Sea Before Us is a gunnery officer, so I had to learn how naval guns and fire control equipment worked! And my health-care career has been very useful. My characters get sick and hurt—I’m mean to my poor characters—so I’m able to “treat” them appropriately.
With only the best medicine, of course. Do you have pets, and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
We have a yellow lab named Daisy. In her puppyhood—and for a lab that means her first seven years—she was pure hindrance, if an adorable one. She did not understand why on earth I’d want to stare at that glowing box thingy all day when I could play with her! To show me the error of my ways, she’d eat random household objects to get my attention. My son’s retainer. Two pairs of prescription glasses. Countless pens, socks, and wooden spoons. It’s a wonder I wrote a single word. Since she’s almost ten, she’s slowing down. Now she’s merely amusing and entertaining.
We also have a cat named Janie. She’s beautiful, always inspires me, never causes trouble, and she’s perfect in every way. She may or may not have typed that herself.
I’m allergic to cats, so I won’t comment. But please tell us about your next project.
The second book in the Sunrise at Normandy series, The Sky Above Us, will release in early 2019. In 1944, fighter pilot Lt. Adler Paxton battles the Luftwaffe over France, numbed by loss and hidden sins. Deprived of her missionary dreams, Violet Lindstrom serves in the Red Cross, where she arranges activities at Adler’s air base. Love blooms. But D-day draws near. And secrets never do stay buried.
Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your heart, your life, and your stories with us. I know all our readers will be grateful.
For His glory,