Thursday, August 22, 2013

     Q.  Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what made you decide to write, and how long have you been at it?
A. As a girl, I did dream of being an author, but I also wanted to be a ballerina and a protozoologist. Yes, that’s strange. I followed my love of science, majored in chemistry, and became a pharmacist. When my oldest son was born, I started working only one day a week. In 2000, I woke up one morning with a story idea that would not let me go. Within a few days, I realized I had to write it down. I had no idea what I was doing. I wrote by hand on binder paper and had to pull a novel off the shelf to figure out how to punctuate dialogue. I proceeded to write a really bad novel, and then another. But because of those stories, I started attending a writers group and writers conferences, and reading books on the writing craft. Those books are not wasted even though they’ll never be published.

Q. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination?
A. I’m a plotter. The thought of writing without a road map makes me hyperventilate. I like to fill out long character charts, plot charts, and scene lists. Before I start my rough draft, I know my characters thoroughly and have a complete story outline. However, surprises do pop up when I’m writing—and I go with them almost all the time.

Q. Do you write full time, or do you work it in alongside a full-time job?
A. I do write full time now, but I still work one day a week as a hospital pharmacist.

Q. What do your kids think about your being a writer?
A. My sons (ages 15 and 20) think it’s cool. They both read and like my books—and my younger son takes my books to school and shows them off, which cracks me up. On the other hand, my daughter, age 17, is convinced I decided to become a writer for the sole purpose of torturing her. And perhaps I did.

Q.  How do you get your best ideas?
A. Insomnia. When I’m trying to fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night, the ideas flow. I keep a notepad and pen in the bathroom, and I dash in there and make notes. I get my best plot twists, character breakthroughs, and lines of dialogue in the middle of the night.

6) Do you write every day? What does your typical writing day look like?
A. I don’t necessarily write every day, but I work on writing-related activities every day. Right now I’m in the middle of a book release, so I’m spending more time on publicity. Some months I’m immersed in research and outlining, and other months I’m in the middle of a rough draft, and other times I’m involved in editing. So it varies.
My typical writing day…after I take my son to school, I check emails and do my social media updates. Then I have my quiet time and get to work. After lunch I take the dog for a walk so she won’t eat my manuscript. I do the bulk of my work in the afternoon—I am not a morning person. In the evenings while watching TV with my family, I work on other activities—like author interviews.

Q.  Do you like to listen to music when you write?
A. Not when I’m actually writing. I sing along with the lyrics, and instrumentals make me want to dance. Rather distracting. However, I listen to a lot of big band music in the car. (But only when I’m alone. My family laughs.) The music of the 1940s inspires a lot of story ideas and throws me into the period.

Q. Do you have any pets? Do you own them, or they you?
A. We have a yellow lab named Daisy. She’s an adorable tyrant. She wants to play, play, play, and she doesn’t understand why mommy sits in front of that glowing box all day and ignores her cuteness. So she eats random household objects to get my attention. Sigh. We also have a cat named Janie, who is very polite and well-behaved. She sits in the window next to me and chirps at the birds. Until Daisy comes in and chases her off. Sigh again.

Thank you, Sarah, for visiting with us this week. We've enjoyed it!

Readers, don't forget to stop by again tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of
Sarah's latest release, On Distant Shores.

Sarah Sundin is the author of five historical novels, including On Distant Shores (Revell, August 2013). In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. You can find her on her website or on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.


  1. What a great interview! I especially like how Ms. Sundin said "Those books are not wasted even though they’ll never be published." I'm writing my sixth novel, and it's the first one that I really feel might be publishable -- but I learned so much from the first five that they absolutely were worth the time and effort even though they'll probably never be read by anyone other than my best friend. To have a published author (and one whose writing I enjoy) voice the same opinion is very heartening. Thank you!

  2. Thank you! I know very few published authors who don't have at least one "starter novel." Often a whole shelf of them. You're in good company.


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