Friday, March 05, 2010


Sarah Sundin’s first novel, A Distant Melody, was released in March 2010 by Revell. She lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to soccer and karate, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.

How did you start out your writing career?

Not by the traditional English major route. I majored in chemistry and earned a doctorate in pharmacy. Then in January 2000, I had a dream with such compelling characters, I had to write their story down. That first novel was burn-it-when-I-die bad, but it served a purpose. Since God called me to write, I decided to write seriously. I joined a critique group, attended writers’ conferences, and learned as much as I could. I began submitting in 2003 and accumulated five years’ worth of “good” rejection letters, mainly because historical fiction wasn’t selling. In 2008, I submitted to Vicki Crumpton from Revell at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and they offered me a three-book contract in September 2008.

What was your most difficult scene to write?

This is hard to answer without giving a spoiler. In A Distant Melody I had to kill one of my favorite characters. I planned the death early in the plotting of the book, but as I actually wrote it, the character’s personality really came to life. I did not want this person to die. I tried to think of all sorts of plot machinations to avoid it but couldn’t. The character needed to die, and I did it. Yes, I’m guilty of premeditated murder. And I’m posting this on the internet. Hmm…

Have you had a "Wow" moment since you have been an author? What made it a "Wow" moment for you?

When I was in my rejection letter years, I got tired of my friends asking when they could read my book. It looked like they might never have a chance. So I printed off two copies and circulated them. My “Wow” moment came over dinner with three friends who had just finished A Distant Melody. They talked about Walt and Allie as if they knew them, as if they were dear friends. It warmed me to know someone else loved my characters. I’m their mama. I have to love them.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I didn’t write with a lesson in mind, but I would like my readers to have a greater appreciation for what people went through during World War II, both in combat and on the Home Front. I also hope my readers learn from my characters’ mistakes—the importance of honesty and obeying the Lord no matter the cost. And I pray young women will see they don’t have to be beautiful to find true love.

What’s playing on your CD while you’re writing?

Nada. I listen to contemporary Christian in the car with my kids, and to Big Band music when I’m in the car without my intolerant children, but when I write, I need silence. I love music and get drawn in and away from my story.

If you had the opportunity to talk with three writers, who would you choose and why?

Laura Ingalls Wilder first—I devoured her books when I was a girl. She had such a knack for bringing the past to life. Also Lucy Maud Montgomery, in some hope we’d be “kindred spirits” like Anne of Green Gables and Diana. And could I write romance and not mention Jane Austen? She’s so darn funny.

If you could be on a Reality TV show, which one would it be and why?

Do they make a show called “Life in the Car Pool?” How about “Real Suburban Housewives Who Actually Love Their Husbands?” I guess I’m too boring for TV. Fine by me.

If you could visit any place in the world where would you travel to?

England. I don’t think I could go there often enough. London is one of the few cities in the world I actually like, much less love. And I’d really love to explore the English countryside, away from the tourist spots.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

Just because I’m at home doesn’t mean I’m not working. No, I’m not making big bucks. No, I’ll never be on Oprah.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

Best—“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Make sure your manuscript is ready before submitting—clean and polished and critiqued by people who know the industry.

Worst—“It’s impossible to get published. You have to know people or be famous.” Yes, the odds are astronomical, but with God, nothing is impossible. Keep improving your craft, keep praying, and keep submitting.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

DO join professional organizations to learn about craft and the industry. I can’t recommend American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) highly enough.

DON’T get desperate. Just as in the dating world, this is a turn-off in the publishing world. Desperation leads people to do stupid things. If you know it’s God’s will for you to write, relax in His will. Even if you’re never published, you’re obeying Him and that’s the greatest thing ever.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I write my rough drafts longhand with pencil and scratch paper, curled up on the couch. That’s when the stories flow. The computer feels sterile to me. It’s where I edit, not where I create.

Our theme for this month is Resources On The Net. What are your favorite resources on the net.

Most of my favorites relate to World War II research.
(US Army Air Forces in World War II) is a comprehensive site with a combat chronology for all theaters, descriptions of aircraft, details of campaigns, and more.
is an amazing site with hundreds of primary historical documents and classic research books on-line.

Since the Home Front section of this book was set in Riverside, California, I had great fun at
which gave me tons of info on historical Riverside, including maps. Love it!

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

A Memory Between Us releases Fall 2010, the second book in the Wings of Glory series. Maj. Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge—until he meets Lt. Ruth Doherty, a striking nurse with a shameful secret. While Jack leads his squadron in the most savage air battles of the war, Ruth trains to become a flight nurse to better support her orphaned siblings. Can they confront their deepest sins, face their greatest fears, and learn to trust and to love?

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)


A Distant Melody is the first book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three brothers who fly B-17 bombers with the U.S. Eighth Air Force based in England during World War II. In A Distant Melody, Lt. Walter Novak flies a B-17 in battles over Nazi-occupied Europe, while Allie Miller serves in the Red Cross against the wishes of her wealthy parents and controlling fiancé in California. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and begin a correspondence. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

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