Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Giveaway Week: Sarah Sundin!

Please join me in welcoming Sarah Sundin here today! I was so delighted to have her agree to do this interview, because the one book I've read by her, Blue Skies Tomorrow, is a favorite of mine. Without further ado, let's go! Make sure you check out my book review, which you can find by clicking Sarah's name in the tags section at the bottom. To tide you over until you get's the book blurb from .

When her husband becomes a casualty of the war in the Pacific, Helen Carlisle throws herself into volunteering for the war effort to conceal her feelings. But keeping up appearances as the grieving widow of a hometown hero is taking its toll. Soon something is going to give.
Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit. His stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life—and a convenient excuse to ignore his deepest fear. When the beautiful Helen catches his eye and captures his heart, he is determined to win her hand.
But when Ray and Helen are called upon to step out in faith and put their reputations and their lives on the line, can they meet the challenges that face them? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?
Filled with drama, daring, and all the romance of the WWII era, Blue Skies Tomorrow is the captivating final book in the popular Wings of Glory series.

Sarah! I’m so glad you’re here! Could you please give us a short auto-biography?

I grew up surrounded by books and read everything I could, but I rarely considered a writing
career. Instead, I studied chemistry at UCLA, then received my doctorate in pharmacy from UC
San Francisco. After graduation, I chose to work one day a week as a hospital pharmacist so I
could stay home with our three children. 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 I felt God had called me to write, I needed to take
it seriously. So I set out to learn the craft of writing from books, a critique group, and writers’
conferences. My first novel, A Distant Melody, was published in 2010.

Is it hard to write while sticking to the historical facts?

It can be. Historical facts give my stories structure and flavor, but the research takes a lot of time,
and I often have to stop writing to look something up—or make a note to look it up later. And
sometimes historical fact can throw a crowbar in my plot ideas. I do a lot of research when my
stories are still in the formative stage so those crowbars have less of an impact. But I often have
to do some serious plot wrestling to make the story conform to history. It’s worth it though to
make the story as historically accurate as possible. I want to do honor to those who lived through
these events by getting the facts right.

Is there any special story about the cover of “Blue Skies Tomorrow”?

I am beyond thrilled with what my publisher did with this cover. First of all, I love the pose,
the outfits are perfect, and the man “playing” Ray looks exactly like the Ray in my mind.
Most exciting though—the background is the actual vintage El Campanil Theatre in Antioch,
California, where several scenes in the book take place. If you look closely at the marquee, the
movie listed is Cover Girl, starring Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth, which my characters see
in the novel. An interesting sidebar: Carmen Dragon, who won the Oscar for the orchestration
in Cover Girl, was a native of Antioch. I was able to have the launch party for Blue Skies
Tomorrow at El Campanil, which has been beautifully restored. You can see pictures of the
theatre at

The cover is a favorite of mine. :) I hadn't noticed the movie playing, though I did read that in the book...which was really cool because I happen to really like Gene Kelly. What was your favorite part of “Blue Skies Tomorrow” to write?

I’ve found each novel has a few pivotal scenes that I play over and over long before
I write them. In this book my favorite scene is near the end when Ray comes home.
Without revealing too much of the plot, it was a really emotional scene, but there was
some underlying humor—I love it when characters make fools of themselves, and Ray
definitely does. Plus, I mentally saw the scene through Helen’s eyes too, and she gets the
emotional shock of her life.

Love that scene. :)There’s quite a bit of historical detail in Blue Skies Tomorrow. What kind of research did you do?

I have to confess, I have over two hundred books and websites in my bibliography for
this three-book series. Yes, that’s sick. Since the heroes in the Wings of Glory series are
B-17 bomber pilots—but I’ve never flown a plane—I read a “How to Fly a Plane” book
to get the basics, purchased copies of the actual B-17 pilot’s manual and the training
film (pure gold!), and ran the flying scenes past a pilot friend. For Blue Skies Tomorrow
I pored over microfilm of the Antioch Ledger for gobs of local details, everything from
the price of pork chops, to rationing updates, to the weather. Plus fun trivia, like how the
PTA met at Mrs. So-and-So’s house on D Street where they knit socks for soldiers.

Wow, your research definitely showed! I know I learned about B-17 planes from your book. What is the biggest thing you’d like a reader to take away from this book?

I never write a novel with a message in mind, but I do hope my readers will learn from my
characters’ experiences. Fear can cripple you and keep you from the life God intends for you. I
hope readers will see how they can find courage in the Lord and the strength to face whatever
life throws at them.

Your biggest fan and supporter is…

My mom. No kidding. When I first started writing, and knew nothing about the craft or the
industry, she was bragging about “her daughter the writer” at the bowling alley. Well, one of the
ladies on the other team was Kathy Collard Miller, a multi-published Christian author. Kathy
gave my mom her phone number, and she answered many of my newbie questions. Now, my
mom gives out piles of bookmarks and tells everyone she meets about my books.

What a wonderful mother! If you could be any literary character, who would you be? Why?

Growing up I identified with a lot of literary characters because so many of them are dreamers
who want to be writers—Laura Ingalls, Anne of Green Gables, Betsy in the Betsy-Tacy books.
For a girl who didn’t fit into the 1980s SoCal beach scene, stories were an escape, and I felt
better knowing there were other dreamers in the world.

What’s your favorite classic book?

I’m not saying this just because your blog is “Austenitis,” but Persuasion is my favorite novel,
with the rest of Jane Austen’s work filling the top slots. Jane Austen 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.

Jane Austen is wonderful! And Persuasion is definitely a good one. If you could visit any country, continent, or place, where would you go and why?

I’d go back to England. I don’t think I could go there often enough. London is one of the few
large cities in the world I like, much less love, and the countryside is so charming. I love the
mixture of beauty and history and atmosphere.

I would love to visit England. Besides, so many famous authors live there! Speaking of which...what are you currently reading?

Just this morning I finished Broken Wings by Carla Stewart. Oh my goodness. Carla’s writing
is so gorgeous, and the characters are amazing. It’s about a young woman trying to get out of an
abusive relationship and her friendship with an elderly woman who was a jazz singing sensation.
I felt like they both became my friends.

That's a book that's been on my to-read list for a while. Which of your book covers is your favorite?

My publisher (Revell) has done an outstanding job with the covers for all three books, capturing
the feel of the era with historical accuracy. But the cover for Blue Skies Tomorrow is my
personal favorite. I’m waiting on the cover for the first book in my next series and can’t wait to
see what they do with that!

Thank you so much for coming, Sarah! Do you have a website where my readers can learn more about you?

Yes, I do. My website is and my blog is Please stop by!

Awesome! I'm so glad you came, Sarah...this interview has been unbelievably fun! And we're back on me. Ready for the exciting part? Sarah offered to giveaway a copy of this totally awesome book, Blue Skies Tomorrow! Believe me, this is a book you want to read. It's amazing. And a favorite of mine.

To enter, just leaving a comment saying you want to enter.

+2 entries if you blogged about this Christmas Giveaway Week before it started!

+2 if you blog about this particular giveaway.

+2 if you follow Austenitis.

You don't have to put seperate comments for each entry. You don't have to leave your email address, but make sure you check back! I recently had a winner who didn't leave an email, and had to forfeit the book since I couldn't access her, and she didn't reply to the post announcing that she won! :( USA only.

Okay, enter! And enjoy. :)


Alexandra said...

Oh, I want to read this book *so* bad!!! Please enter me!!!

And I follow your blog. :-)


Julia said...

I would like to enter! :)

I follow Austenitis, so that is +2 entries for me. :D

3 total, I think. :)

wfnren said...

Please enter me in this contest and thank you for the interview and hosting the contest.

+2 for posting the contest on my
blog at:

+2 for following Austenitis

wfnren at aol dot com

Quirky Grammar Girl said...

Would love to win this book. Thanks to both interviewer and interviewee for a great post!

Melanie said...

I definitely want to be entered in this giveaway!

frequentreader19 (at) gmail (dot) com

+2 I follow via GFC

Soccerkidsmom said...

I would love to be entered to win! Love reading and reviewing! Thanks and Merry Christmas! Sherri sherri5 at pa dot net

Melody said...

Oooh! This author likes Jane Austen? Definitely want to enter the giveaway. (Are you calling me Partial and Prejudiced?!'d be right. :P)

And I follow. As you know. =)

I agree, that cover is really cool...

Angelica said...

Ooh, I would LOVE to own this book! Enter me, por favor :) and you have my email. ;)

Angelica said...

oh, and I'm already following your blog. so 3 entries total...

Sarah Sundin said...

Thanks, everyone!!

Just so it's clear - I love reading Jane Austen, but I don't claim to write like her ;)

Gwendolyn Gage said...

I would love to read this book, I love all things B17 Bomber. :-) Thank you for this opportunity!


Sarah Sundin said...

Gwendolyn - hey, another girl who likes bombers :) Love it!!! There are more of us than I ever imagined.