I’m your average everyday writer/pharmacist/soccer mom/Sunday school teacher. In other words, I’m a juggler. Like all moms. We just juggle different balls. My readers might be surprised to know I hated creative writing in school. “You have twenty minutes to write a story about this picture of a pile of marbles.” Ugh. I wanted to write the stories in my head, not about marbles. And not in twenty minutes. That kind of thing led me to become a chemistry major.
What inspired you to write your Wings of Glory series?
While I was playing with the idea for A Distant Melody, the first book in the series, my husband and I watched a History Channel special on the US Eighth Air Force based in England which flew over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, and I was hooked. My great-uncle was a B-17 pilot with the Eighth, so I had access to his stories and letters. A Distant Melody was meant to be a standalone, but while doing research, I became enamored with the Eighth Air Force and wanted to tell the full story to V-E Day.
Since my hero had two pilot brothers, I decided to write a series, with each book focusing on one brother.
What prompted you to write stories that took place during WWII?
This was a time when ordinary men had to do extraordinary things, and when women first explored non-traditional roles—while remaining ladies. Plus, I’ve always been fond of that generation, my grandparents’ generation. As a pharmacy resident at a VA hospital, I had the honor of caring for many of these men. As a rule, they were cheerful, kind, and chivalrous, with the solid strength of someone who has been tested—and passed. What more could you want in a hero?
Has your faith influenced your writings? How?
Absolutely. I wouldn’t be writing at all if God hadn’t pulled me into it with a dream. Odd, but true. I also know the importance of keeping my life and my writing bathed in prayer. Faith also plays into my characters and plots. I see God at work in the world and in people all around me, and I can’t imagine not including that in my stories. My characters tend to be Christians who have areas where their faith needs to grow, like obedience, honesty, pride, trust, or fear. Then the characters learn through the story situations.
Did you base any of your characters on people you really know?
Not directly. I’m not fond of lawsuits. Because this is historical fiction, real-life characters do pop up, but in Blue Skies Tomorrow, I only “animated” a few of them, and I tried to keep the scene as short as possible and stay true to what I knew of the person’s personality and character. The fictional characters are truly fictional. Of course they arise from a lifetime of studying people, so in a way, they’re all conglomerations of my mental database of people I know.
Which book that you've written was your favorite to write?
That’s like asking which is my favorite child. I have three children—all wildly different—and I love them all equally. It’s the same with my books. Of course I love my kids more. Although my books never give me ‘tude.
When you started writing, where did you begin? With an outline? Or did you just jump into it and let the story form as you wrote?
I’m definitely an outline-oriented writer. That’s the science nerd in me. First of all, I do lots of research beforehand—not only does this let me know if my story idea will even work historically, but it gives me ideas for scenes, problems, and characters. Then I fill out character charts (I love character charts!) and a plot outline. Then come scene lists with everything from the date, the weather, what characters are wearing, goals and conflict, what’s happening historically, and an outline of the scene. Finally I get to my rough draft.
You've written and published several books. Which one required the most research? Which took the longest time to write?
I thought the first would require the most research because I had to do all my background research on the US Home Front, B-17s, and the Eighth Air Force, but the other two books probably required as much research due to other story aspects. The third book took the longest time for the rough draft because I was writing it after I received my contract, so I was setting up my website and Facebook, and editing the other books. However, the first book took more hours overall because I rewrote so many times during my rejection letter years.
Who would you have play Raymond and Helen if your upcoming release, Blue Skies Tomorrow, were made into a movie?
This is always so hard for me. I don’t picture celebrities for my characters. I see them firmly in my head but almost never find anyone who looks just like them. But for Ray, I would cast the model who “plays” him on the book cover. Oh my goodness! He looks just like the Ray in my mind. Uncanny. The model for Helen isn’t quite like I pictured her, but she’d do nicely. She has that pretty, girl-next-door look.
Who is your favorite author?
It may be cliché, but an author I keep coming back to is Jane Austen. She has it all— laugh-out-loud humor, snappy dialogue, well-drawn characters, and endings that make you feel all warm and gooey inside. Another thing I love about Austen is that the rogues turn out to be—well, rogues, while the heroes are quiet men of integrity. Most romances hold up the “bad boy” as hero, and I don’t think that’s healthy. Too many women follow that example and choose charm over character—and regret it.
Do you have another book in the making? Can you give us some insight on what it's about? I sure do. I signed another three-book contract with Revell for a series tentatively called Wings of the Nightingale, which follows three World War II flight nurses in the Mediterranean Theater. The first book comes out Fall 2012 and features a You’ve Got Mail-like anonymous pen pal relationship between a loner nurse and an Army engineer burdened by the legacy of his infamous father.
How can our readers reach you?
Not only has Sarah been gracious enough to allow me to interview her, but she is also willing to giveaway a copy of her latest release - Blue Skies Tomorrow - to one lucky commenter! USA ONLY! Enter soon! This giveaway ends on October 7th!
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