So here’s the next question: Growing up, what kind of books did you enjoy reading the most? Did those prepare you for what you do now?
I read everything I could—contemporary and historical fiction, biographies, history, humor, cereal boxes, and shampoo bottles. I think all good reading shapes us. It affects how we see others, the world, and events. It allows you to appreciate other cultures and time periods. It forces you to think about who you are and how you would—or should—react in a similar situation. To me, it’s an honor to write historical fiction and to open eyes to how people lived during World War II.
At what point did you know your genre would be historical fiction? What drew you to the themes of war times?
My first two (never published) novels were contemporary romances. When a story kernel for a third novel came to me, I knew it had to be historical rather than contemporary. The World War II era called out to me. My grandparents served in various ways during the war, and they were storytellers. Plus, my father was always watching WWII documentaries, and many of those books I consumed as a girl were about the war. The WWII era is rich with drama, daring, and romance—perfect fodder for the novelist.
How did God lead you and how did He design it into the ministry you have now?
I adore looking back and figuring out how God led me to where I am today. Majoring in chemistry seems like a waste for an author—but it helps me decipher the gunnery and pilot’s manuals that make my military action scenes realistic. A career in pharmacy seems like a detour—but my health-care background allowed me to write stories about WWII nurses and pharmacists. Teaching Sunday school prepared me for the public speaking that can bolster a writing career—when you teach fourth-graders, you quickly learn to become animated and dynamic, or else the girls begin braiding each other’s hair and the boys have each other in headlocks. And all life’s hurt and rejection and pain and sin and loss embarrassments and mistakes—those enrich my stories, because I can feel what my characters are feeling. God wastes nothing.
For the kind of writing you do, do you have a system?
Very much. That’s the pharmacist in me. Many novelists come up with a basic story idea and start writing, with no idea how it will develop. My analytical mind is baffled and amazed by that. I have a long percolation phase for a story idea when I play with it and see if I like it and do basic research to make sure it works historically. Then I build the story slowly, from a one-page blurb to a five-page synopsis. I fill out detailed character charts getting to know these fictional people I love. Then I write a thorough outline. As I write the rough draft, I do veer from my outline due to research, getting to know my characters better, or just a great plot idea. But the basic story remains. An outline frees me to write, same as a solid itinerary allows me to enjoy a journey unfettered with worries about where we’ll spend the night.
For your books, is the plot or the characters most prominent?
My basic story idea usually comes from the plot. For Anchor in the Storm, I had the idea of a US naval officer battling German U-boats off the East Coast (based on research) and a female pharmacist investigating a drug ring on the US home front (based on some problems my pharmacist husband encountered—although no drug ring, thank goodness). After that story kernel, the characters take over. They’re the heart of the story and drive the rest of the plot.
How do you include God in your writing?
I pray regularly for my writing, that God would direct my words, that He would be honored through them, and that He would use the stories in my readers’ lives. The spiritual messages in the novels arise from the characters. Like all of us “real” human beings, my characters have issues. Sins they’re justifying. Fears that hold them back. Pride that hinders them. False ideas about God that skew their thinking. For Anchor in the Storm, both Arch and Lillian have put their security and their identity in a career. Then those careers are threatened. Who would they be without their careers? Where is their security? Both learn to hold on to the Lord as an “anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19) no matter what storms life throws at them.
Readers, did you notice the two words highlighted above in yellow: “in a”? Those are this stop’s clues for the Scavenger Hunt.
Here’s your last question, Sarah. How can readers connect with you?
Please visit me at
Thank you, Sarah, for being a part of the Scavenger Hunt.
Here is more about Sarah:
Sarah Sundin is the author of eight historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm. Her novel Through Waters Deep is a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.
Here’s more information about the Hunt:If you’re the CAN Scavenger Hunt’s Grand Prize Winner, I’ll be sending you a copy of my Bible study, Choices of the Heart: Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. And you’ll be sent 25 books from 25 other authors.
But I’m also offering a drawing on my blog (here!) for THREE of my books:
3. Why Do I Put So Much Pressure on Myself and Others?
Here’s how to put your name into my drawing. Make a comment here on my blog and tell me how many points you’ve earned:
1. Get 1 point if you comment.
2. Get 1 point if you subscribe to my blog. (If you’re already a subscriber, just tell me and you’ll still get a point). You’ll find the Subscribe Opportunity on the upper left hand corner of my blog.
3. Get 1 point for “liking” my Author Facebook page:
Now you can head to the next stop in the Scavenger Hunt: www.SarahSundin.com. She’ll be hosting Dianne Barker. I love her books too!