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Interview with Sara Brunsvold

Sara Brunsvold is a debut novelist whose dream was ten years in the making. Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Sara infused her novel with local history and flavors. Sara faced down a difficult topic when writing about a character at the end of their life, but the imaginary Mrs. Kip touched Sara’s heart, inspiring her during a dark time in her own life. Read on to learn how God used baseball and Ramona Quimby to shape Sara into the woman she is today.

Welcome, Sara! I’m thankful for this opportunity to interview you and get to know you better. Congratulations on your debut! All your hard work has finally paid off. Tell us a little about your journey to publishing.
The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip is my debut novel, and its release comes almost exactly 10 years after I became serious about pursuing my novelist dream. I attended my first writers conference in 2012 and quickly learned how much I had to learn! The journey has been marked with a lot of hard lessons, countless hours of refining my craft, and amazing friendships with fellow authors. I’m thankful for these past ten years and trust the next ten will continue to grow and shape me as an author.

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip is an intriguing title. What can you tell the readers about the book that they won’t learn from the blurb?
The book is set in the Kansas City, Missouri metro and features real Kansas City history. Specifically, the story highlights the resettlement of Laotian refugees into the city in the late 1970s. This element of the book was inspired by the experiences of a family friend.

I love when authors include real-life experiences they’ve had or real-life stories by others they’ve connected with. What was the highlight of writing this book?
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the history of Kansas City’s resettlement of southeast Asian refugees. The influence of the refugees remains in the city today. Part of my “research” involved eating traditional Lao fare from a local restaurant. If you ever have a chance to enjoy it, nam khao is amazing!

I have never tried Laotian cuisine, but it sounds delicious. I know things aren’t always sunshine and roses when writing a novel. Could you tell us about a particular challenge you faced?
The key challenge was having a main character at the end of life, which is not exactly the stuff of glossy magazines. Readers can shy away from such stories, and I knew that going into it. But I felt compelled to tell a story that puts a dignified light on the end of life – it’s not dying, it’s preparing for a long-awaited homegoing. I was challenged to accurately portray what happens in that stage of life but to do so in a way that readers are so connected to the characters that they are willing to follow them into the hard scenes.

You certainly didn’t shy away from a difficult topic. After pouring yourself into this book, do any of the characters hold a special place in your heart?
Clara Kip for sure. She was a beacon in a dark season of my life. She is a great example of what it means to surrender your will to God and trust that He has something better. She is who I want to be when I grow up.

That’s beautiful, and an important life lessons for all of us. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I have dreamed of being a novelist since middle school. My seventh-grade English teacher encouraged me to explore creative writing. I followed her advice and was immediately hooked. Thank you, Karen Seward, wherever you are.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Contemplative, hopeful, story-lover

Share something with the readers that they wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio.
The first work I ever published for pay was a short story about my dad and me connecting through baseball. It was published in an anthology by a small publisher. Baseball was one of the few avenues God provided for Dad and me to connect in a meaningful way. He passed away in 2013, and his copy of the anthology now lives on my bookshelf.

Thank you for sharing that sweet memory about your dad. What was your favorite book when you were a kid?
My favorite stories growing up were Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books. I have a picture of me opening a Christmas present of Ramona Forever, and the sheer elation on my face says it all. Spunky female leads in real-life settings have been where it’s at for me ever since, both as a reader and as a writer. My love for characters like Romana, followed by Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird and Jo March from Little Women, certainly influenced the development of Clara Kip.

What book is currently on your bedside table?
I am finishing up Katherine Reay’s The London House and starting Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with my 11-year-old. She is a reluctant reader, but the Harry Potter series has captured her imagination. We plan to read the books together.

What authors have most influenced your own writing?
I think you can tell which authors influence you the most by how much you hanker to write after reading their work. The authors who have sparked that desire for me were John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Sandra Cisneros, and Katherine Reay, in no particular order.

Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
I work part-time in the corporate communications field. I would love to be able to transition more fully into the publishing industry, if God wills.

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
I write character-driven stories, so character development is the bulk of my pre-writing. When I reach the point of putting words on the page, I have a high-level plot in mind, but I stop short of creating a detailed outline. Part of the fun of writing is allowing the characters to show me how we get from one point to another.

Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
My website,, offers more about me, my work, and purchase links. For a limited time, readers can get a free printable titled “Mrs. Kip’s 8 Rules to Live By” when they subscribe to my newsletter.

Any current or upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
I am working on my second novel. It’s about a young woman processing through a family crisis by cooking her way through her great-grandmother’s authentic German recipes. It is slated for an early 2024 release from Revell. I’m doubly excited about this project because it allows me to explore my own heritage.
Gina Holder is an indie author and stay-at-home mom. She’s had an infatuation with books for as long as she can remember. She loves sharing uplifting messages from God’s Word and introducing readers to new and new-to-them authors on her blog at When she’s not writing, Gina enjoys playing the piano, cooking, reading, watching Hallmark mysteries, and solving "escape room” puzzles. She’s been a member of ACFW for several years, and loves growing in her craft as an author. She published her debut novel in 2017. Gina lives in Colorado with her husband and daughter.

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