Monday, January 6, 2014

Meet Sarah Sundin, author of novels set during World War II

Juanita: Hello, Sarah, I’m looking forward to our visit today and to getting to know you better. First, will you tell us where you grew up and where you live now? Also, tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Sarah: I grew up in southern California and now live in northern California. My husband and I have three children—two in college and one in high school.

Juanita: I noticed from your website that books were important to you as you were growing up. I think you said “Our house was wallpapered in books.” That’s a great way to grow up. What were some of your favorite books when you were a little girl and a teen-ager?

Sarah: I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. The Little House on the Prairie books were particular favorites, as were the Betsy, Tacy, and Tib books.

Juanita: Now will you tell us about your spiritual heritage? I know you are a Christian because of your testimony on your website and the things you do. When you began writing, what impressed you to write from a Christian perspective?

Sarah: I write from a Christian perspective because I can’t imagine writing from any other. The Lord is active in my life, and I see Him at work all around me. To write stories omitting Him wouldn’t be true to reality.

Juanita: That’s a great testimony, Sarah, one I love to hear. I just finished reading On Distant Shores and the main character was an Army Pharmacist. I also notice you have a Doctors’ degree in pharmacy. Please tell us about this direction in your life and what inspired you to write about this medical field, along with placing it in the time frame of World War II?

Sarah: Starting in sixth grade, I fell in love with science and knew I wanted to use science to help people, which led me into pharmacy. I never seriously considered becoming a writer—but God had other ideas! However, my scientific and health care training has ended up being very useful to me as a writer. I’ve been able to decipher technical pilot manuals and write authentically about Army hospitals, nurses, and health care. My husband (also a pharmacist) kept bugging me to write about a pharmacist. My research turned up very little about pharmacy in the military during the war…but when I finally found some sources, what I learned fascinated me—and inspired On Distant Shores.

Juanita: I notice a lot of World War II history is included in your writing. Are most of your books set during this time period? What impelled you to get into this part of history and devote so much time to it?

Sarah: As of now, all my novels are set in World War II, including a future contracted series. I find it such an intriguing time period with an unlimited supply of stories. Part of the appeal is how ordinary men learned they could do extraordinary things, and how women tried on new roles while remaining ladies.

Juanita: You are also a Sunday School teacher and a leader in Women’s studies. I do these things, too. Can you tell us how long you’ve been doing this and which authors you prefer to study with the ladies you teach?

Sarah: I’ve been teaching Sunday school since 2002 and women’s Bible studies since 2003. I’ve enjoyed learning from Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, and many others. Our church women’s ministries uses a combination of video-driven studies from established teachers like these, but we’ve also recently begun using our own material. We have an excellent teaching team of about a dozen extremely talented ladies. We rotate teaching throughout the quarter, write our own lectures, and develop the discussion questions. The teachers like this because we get to teach from our personal study and what God lays on our hearts—but we only have to put together a handful of lectures each year. And the women love the variety of teaching styles and focuses.

Juanita: That sounds like something I would love to be a part of. I like the lecture format, too, and I just finished writing a Bible study about ordinary people in the Old Testament, that I will teach in January at our church. How long have you been writing and how many books have you authored? Are all of them still in print?

Sarah: I’ve been writing since 2000, and my first novel (A Distant Melody) was published in 2010. I have five books published right now (all still in print), two more coming in 2014, and then another three-book series after that.

Juanita: If one wanted to read a book just to get to know you and your style of writing, which one of your books would you recommend that we start with?

Sarah: I’d suggest either A Distant Melody (Book 1 in the Wings of Glory series) or With Every Letter (Book 1 in the Wings of the Nightingale series). However, all the novels do stand alone, so if another story particularly appeals, start there.

Juanita: I also noticed that you place a lot of importance on belonging to writers’ groups and studying the craft of writing. What advice would you give a beginning writer in this respect?

Sarah: If you’re writing for the Christian market, I strongly recommend joining American Christian Fiction Writers. There are email loops, free courses for members, online critique groups, and an excellent yearly conference. I love this group. Also look for writers’ conferences, which are great ways to learn gobs of material, meet other writers, and get connected in the industry. A good conference is worth every penny. I joke that I’m “addicted” to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference—I need my yearly dose! (That’s a pharmacist joke).

Juanita: Do you have any more “words of wisdom” for our blog readers this week?

Sarah: If you have a dream on your heart, take advantage of the spirit of the New Year. Pray about this dream, and if it’s something God wants you to do, pray He’ll give you the courage, discipline, and wisdom to bring it to pass.

Juanita: Thanks so much for being a guest today and for introducing us to your books. I love books set during the 1940’s and 1950’s and many of our blog readers do, too.

Sarah: Thank you so much for having me!


Readers, be sure to leave your comment and email address so your name can be added to the list of those who qualify to receive a free copy of On Distant Shores.
If you have problems signing on here, you can send me an email (mjnobles at charter dot net) or find me or Sarah on Facebook and comment there.


  1. I have been wanting to read this book of Sarah's for a while now!

  2. I fell in love with Sarah's writing through "With Every Letter" and I cannot wait to read "On Distant Shores." :) So exciting!

  3. This wonderful novel sounds captivating and memorable. I read a great deal of World War 11 fiction and would enjoy this book greatly. Best wishes and much happiness and success. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Books set during the 1940's and 1950's are meaningful and profound and provide me with great memories since I was born in the 1940's. I enjoyed this interesting interview and would love to read the novel. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  5. I read "The Wings of Glory" series, which was wonderful. I love the WWII time period. I really enjoyed the interview!

  6. I just finished reading "A Distant Melody" in December and really enjoyed it! I would love to read more of Sarah's books. Thanks for the giveaway!


  7. Great interview! I've read all of Sarah's books so I can't wait "In Perfect Time." I have a feeling I'm going to love Kay and Roger, as I loved Tom and Mellie, and of course, Georgie and Hutch. Thanks!

  8. I read all five of Sarah's novels last year and absolutely loved them all! I loved WWII stories and hers are some of the absolute best that I've read! I literally squealed when I found out there is another three book series coming!!!!!! This interview was great-thank you!

  9. Well, Readers, we are in the middle of a huge snowstorm which hit us yesterday, and I have not had internet until this evening--about 24 hours without. I've been fretting all day because couldn't get on here-- but now I'm baaaaack! I'm so glad to hear from all you wonderful bloggers, and each name is entered in the contest. Good luck and happy reading!
    Juanita Nobles

  10. Thanks for coming by, everyone! And if you win and you already have "On Distant Shores," I'll send you a copy of "In Perfect Time" instead...when it comes out in August :)

  11. Thank you, Sarah and Juanita! It was so great to hear more about your writing background. Have a blessed 2014!

  12. Really enjoyed your interview, Sarah, and learning more about you, your writing, and your books! I love books about WWII, and enjoyed hearing how your bible studies are conducted. I haven't read any of your books, and would love to read "On Distant Shores"!

    Sarah, and Juanita - thanks for the opportunity to win a copy, and thanks for the interview!


  13. thanks for the great interview centraleast2 at gmail dot com

  14. I really enjoyed this interview. Different questions than usual ones where it seems to be the same questions with every author. I liked it different. Thanks!
    I would love to get this book. I have "With Every Letter" Nice to hear you are both Sunday School teachers. I have two daughter's who are S S teaches, Another who has this in the past and a niece who teaches. Thanks for this give-away. Maybe my name will be drawn. MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

  15. I loved Sarah's first series and look forward to her newest one. I love that she explored the history of pharmacy in WWII and used her experience in the writing of On Distant Shores. Thanks for the giveaway!
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

  16. Thanks to all you who have entered the contest to win a copy of Sarah's book ON DISTANT SHORES. I will be selecting the winner on Saturday, January 10, and will notify the winner by email. The name of the winner will be posted on this blog on Monday, January 13, along with a review of Mona Hodgson's new book THE QUILTED HEART.

  17. Darn I hope I did not miss my chance to win the book.

    1. I'm so sorry, Bonnie, just a couple of hours ago the winner was selected. I hope you will come back to my blog and try again for another book.