Thursday, March 18, 2010
All and none. I try to think like my characters do, so a bit of me goes into each one. I may never have experienced what my heroine is going through, but I know what it’s like to feel rejected, joyful, angry, terrified, ashamed, or content. However, I’m careful not to make my characters just like me. How boring would that be? Since I’ve always loved to observe behavior, I enjoy filling my novels with a variety of types.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
You stumped me. I even polled family and friends. The most common answer: “You wrote a book.” I may be odd, I may be weird, but apparently I’m not quirky.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
January 6, 2000. Although I always read voraciously, I didn’t consider a writing career. For one thing, I knew getting published was as likely as becoming a professional ballerina. I studied chemistry at UCLA, then received my doctorate in pharmacy from UC San Francisco. I married a fellow pharmacy student, and I chose to work one day a week as a hospital pharmacist and stay home with our three children. Then on January 6, 2000, I had a dream with such intriguing characters that I felt compelled to write their story. That first novel will never be published, nor should it, 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.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Although I write historical romance, I rarely read it. I gravitate toward the classics, women’s fiction, and contemporary or historical fiction—but it has to have a romantic thread or I lose interest. I also love a good suspense novel and anything with humor. Currently I’m reading The Queen of Sleepy Eye by Patti Hill (for fun), Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell (for writing craft), and Me 262 in Action by Hans-Henri Stapfer (for research). How’s that for an odd collection?
That is eclectic all right. What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I’ve written two contemporary romance novels which should be burned when I die—my starter novels. I’ve also completed the second novel in the Wings of Glory series, and I’m almost done with the rough draft for the third book. Ideas are percolating for a second series.
I'd love to feature all the books in the Wings to Glory series. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Sanity? What sanity? I have a husband, three children, a cat, and a yellow lab. I work part time, and teach Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. But I love it. I thrive on a certain level of busyness. However, as an introvert, I crave solitude. My quiet time with the Lord is a high priority, and I’m careful not to schedule much during those lovely, silent hours when the kids are at school.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Oh, I love names! Sometimes a character comes to me with name attached, and other times I have to search for the right name—the sound, the meaning—is it a biblical or family name? For historical novels, I feel the names should fit the time period. If an author puts a Ma’Kenzee in the Old West, she’d better have a really good reason, and the other characters had better stumble over it. One of my favorite resources is The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon, which lists the most popular baby names for each year. Since my novels are set during World War II, I find names in obituaries and from patients in the hospital where I work. We had a patient named Latrina recently. Ouch. But isn’t there a great story in that?
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
That’s a tough question. I could say I’m most proud of my degrees, my publishing contract, or the accomplishments of my children—and I am proud of those. However, I agree more and more with Paul that I consider my accomplishments “a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8). I take most pride in obeying God’s call to write, and to keep obeying in spite of the obstacles.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I asked my thirteen-year-old daughter, and she said “a sloth.” That’s the problem with writing—no one thinks you’re actually doing anything! By the way, never ask the opinion of your teenaged daughter.
And I've learned never ask the opinion of your teenaged granddaughter. What is your favorite food?
Chinese food. Love it. A dozen people at a Chinese restaurant so you can try a dozen dishes, plus soup and appetizers? Ooooh.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Be teachable and learn as much as you can about the craft of writing and the publishing process. Join a writers’ group, attend conferences, read books on writing, and join American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Keep writing, keep submitting, and keep praying.
Tell us about the featured book?
A Distant Melody is the first book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the Eighth Air Force based in England during World War II.
In A Distant Melody, Lt. Walter Novak flies a B-17 bomber 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 that binds them together—can they untangle the web of lies, engagements, and expectations that keeps them apart?
Please give us the first page of the book.
Los Angeles, California
Monday, June 22, 1942
One whole delicious week together. Allie Miller clung to her best friend’s promise and to the train ticket that would deliver it.
Allie followed an inlaid marble pathway through Union Station and breathed in the glamour of travel and the adventure of her first trip north. Anticipation trilled a song in her heart, but the tune felt thin, a single line of melody with no harmony to make it resonate.
She glanced at her boyfriend, who walked beside her. “I’m sorry you can’t come.”
Baxter shrugged, gazed at a knot of soldiers they passed, and pulled the cigarette from his mouth. “The war didn’t stop just because Betty Jamison decided to get married.”
Allie shrank back from the discordant note. Her bridesmaid duty might seem trivial, but she honored it as much as J. Baxter Hicks did his duties as business manager.
They entered the waiting room, which blended Spanish Colonialism and modern streamlining. A wood-beamed ceiling peaked overhead, and iron chandeliers illuminated hundreds of men in Navy white and blue or Army khaki and olive drab.
None of the men cast Allie a second glance. Yet when Mother rose partway from her seat and beckoned with a gloved hand, she attracted dozens of stares with her blonde beauty.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Sarah, thank you for sharing this time with us.
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