Welcome, Sarah. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
It really depends on the character—there’s definitely more of me in some of my characters than others. I had a lot of fun with Claire in Silent Night Shadows, and her sister Gemma who was the heroine of my last book and shows up in this one as well, because I gave them each some characteristics from both me and my sister, but it’s hard to say which one of them is more like which one of us and which qualities are just made up. There are a lot of completely fictional qualities, though, and I do like to try to remind people to remember that just because a character thinks a certain way or has certain feelings, it doesn’t necessarily mean the author does. I’ve written characters before who dislike coffee and that is definitely not me. =)
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I was reminded tonight on Facebook of a multi-year phase I went through where I made fish faces for fun. That’s pretty quirky, right?
Works for me. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve loved having blank notebooks to write stories in since I was very young. I don’t remember if my blank notebook with the horse on the front was given to me when I was eight or if I was closer to twelve, but it was somewhere in there that I started writing, and when I was thirteen it started to become something I did a lot more. By the time I was seventeen, I had submitted my first query letter and decided I really wanted to be a writer.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Oh, I love reading so many different kinds of books. I read an amazing general market fiction book earlier this year by Eowyn Ivey, To the Bright Edge of the World that really inspired me as a writer. Most of the time, though, I read Christian fiction, everything from romantic comedy to suspense. Some of my favorite authors are Kara Isaac, Hillary Manton Lodge, Melissa Tagg, Denise Hunter, and Colleen Coble.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I have two young boys so I feel like it’s essential for me to hang onto my sanity as tightly as I can. Haha. Practically speaking, I try to get outside especially in the summer, because hiking helps me relax. I also go to the gym often, love coloring with colored pencils if I feel like I’m getting too stressed, and make sure the boys and I have some downtime built into our day. Basically, I also try to remind myself that it’s not worth it to rush through life, and I do a pretty good job most of the time of not letting the world’s craziness rush me.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
This changes a lot depending on the book and character. In my first book, I chose the heroine’s name (
because I liked the name and my husband had already told me we were never using
it for a baby so I figured I could use it for a book character. Haha. In my
second book, I knew the heroine’s name before I’d written a thing. In some of
my other books, I’ve changed names after sending in the initial proposal.
Sometimes I ask friends for suggestions, sometimes I look up baby names, and
while I do usually pay at least a little attention to name meanings, usually I
just choose a name that I like the sound of.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
This a tough one. While I am proud of some of my accomplishments, these books for one thing and having taught my kids things for another, mostly I’m thankful for the chance to get to do them.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Hm…I think I’d be a grizzly bear so I could hike around the gorgeous mountains up here all the time and never worry about, well, bears.
What is your favorite food?
I love spaghetti. It’s been one of my favorite foods since I was a kid and it still is, although my husband’s chicken parmesan is right up there with it.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I think the greatest roadblock I faced was a rejection that came after feeling like I was so close to finally making progress in my career as a writer. That was the time I honestly did almost stop writing, and moving forward from there required rethinking my writing and my genre. At the time I’d been writing chick-lit, but switched to romantic suspense (which I loved and had already written an attempt at years before) when an agent suggested I try to find a way to hit the market a bit better than my chick lit attempts would have at the time. I’m so glad for that agent’s honesty and I’m glad I persevered.
Tell us about the featured book.
Silent Night Shadows is a story of play-it-safe Claire, her small town’s sweetheart, accidentally witnessing a crime and then finding herself under the protection of Nate Torres, whose life is defined by risk. I loved writing this story and having Claire and Nate in some ways be such complete opposites, but in other ways have so many similarities. I feel like they really bring out the best in each other.
Please give us the first page of the book.
The cool, dark December night wrapped around Claire Phillips, making her shiver deep inside. She wrapped her arms tighter around herself, wishing she’d grabbed her jacket before she’d left the coffee shop to head toward the town square for the tree lighting ceremony. But there hadn’t been time. She’d promised her sister she’d meet her there at six, and it was already five till.
Claire glanced to her right and left. No one was around. Everyone seemed to be at the square already and Claire rubbed at goose bumps that weren’t just from the cold. She’d walked this route by herself more times than she could count, but right now she felt off somehow. Claire could feel a certain tension in the air like tonight was a rubber band, stretched back.
And something was about to break.
Lately she’d felt watched. Not all the time, but sometimes when she was walking around town, she’d felt like someone was tracking her movements. She’d been debating with herself all day whether or not she should say something to her sister—Gemma’s husband was a police officer and would know if she needed to report that or anything.
I love romantic suspense. I’m eager to read your book. How can readers find you on the Internet?
You can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can find me on facebook, which is facebook.com/SarahVarlandAuthor
Thank you, Sarah, for sharing this book with us.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.Silent Night Shadows - Christianbook.com
Silent Night Shadows (Love Inspired Suspense) - Amazon paperback
Silent Night Shadows (Love Inspired Suspense) - Kindle
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