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Interview with Sarah Sundin

A Life of History

Sarah Sundin spent most of her childhood listening to the fascinating stories of her grandfather, who served in the Navy as a pharmacist’s mate (medic), her great-uncle, who flew B-17 bombers, and both of her grandmothers, who held down the Home Front during World War II. All of those family members were storytellers, and every time they gathered, the experiences from their past found their way into every conversation. Couple that with her parents always reading books and watching documentaries or movies about the era, and you can easily see how the grandeur of those stories seeped into Sarah’s soul. She’s continued writing World War II stories because of the wealth of material—"I keep finding new angles to explore. It’s such a dramatic time period, which is rich fodder for novelists.”

When she wrote her latest novel, The Sky Above Us, she knew it was a story about sin, forgiveness, self-righteousness, and putting others above oneself. However, she also knows the Lord has His own agenda for each one of her books. She never ceases to be amazed by the messages her readers see in her stories—often not messages she intended at all. So, although she has her own themes as she writes, she has learned to simply put her stories out there and wait to see what God does with them in her readers’ lives. In her words, “It’s pretty exciting!” I would venture to say every novelist who writes a book would say the same thing. You answer the call, and let God do the rest.

It wasn’t always that way for Sarah, though. When writing her first novels, she’d stop and wait until it “felt right.” There’d be a panicky point where she would think she’d never be able to write the story she’d envisioned. Now, she’s become more relaxed with the process. She knows it will all come together. She doesn’t give in to the fear, but instead forges ahead, knowing it the story will take care of itself. And it does.

A Life of Answering the Call

Sarah usually starts a novel thinking the characters will reflect an issue she’s experienced or overcome. Then, she finds she’s always challenged again in that area while she’s writing the story. “But I’m glad the Lord does this, because it allows my own struggles and imperfections to show in the characters’ lives—and to show God’s work all the more brightly.”

Sarah has had her “big” moments with awards and good reviews, as well as being on several faculties at writing conferences around the country. She’s had her humbling, rejoicing moments when readers tell her how a story touched them, caused them to change, or got them through difficult times. But the greatest moment is every single day when she sits at her keyboard and says to herself—with great glee—“I get to do this for a living!”

Sarah recently hung up her ID badge and lab coat after a lifetime career as a pharmacist, trading her work in the pharmaceutical world for her work in the writing world. Her running joke is she took the traditional path for a novelist by majoring in chemistry and becoming a pharmacist. Not exactly a typical career path for someone who would one day write novels. However, we are all shaped by our life experiences, and every author uses those experiences in each story written. Sarah’s scientific training allows her to tackle technical aspects in her novels.

Since the hero in The Sky Above Us flies a P-51 Mustang, Sarah had to understand the pilot’s manual and the basics of flight to write those scenes with authenticity. “I also kept hurting my characters and letting them get sick, so my health care background comes in handy.”

A Life of Writing Full-Time

Giving up that pharmacist job wasn’t difficult at all. Although she misses her friends at the hospital, Sarah has discovered that time spent at the hospital has opened up hours of opportunity for life. Juggling that and writing was very stressful and left her with little time to relax or spend time with friends. It’s only been a few months, but she’s already feeling the benefits.

Another change coming down the pike is shifting from writing series fiction to writing standalone stories. Sarah adores writing a series. “I love doing the deeper story, history, and character development. But there are limitations.” Her next contract is for three standalone novels. She’s trying something different. “We’ll see how it goes!”

In addition to writing, Sarah also loves teaching. She teaches fourth- and fifth-graders in Sunday school and also women’s Bible studies. “The children are so much fun and always keep me on my toes. Same with the women, come to think of it.” Her husband is another person in her life who keeps things hopping. They love traveling and hiking and seeing new things.

For fun, Sarah goes to the gym, and she loves her barre class, since she took ballet for ten years when she was young. Who knows? Perhaps some of that ballet experience will also find its way into her novels.

Right now, Sarah is reading an advance copy of Melanie Dobson’s Memories of Glass for endorsement. For research, she’s reading Richard Evans’s thorough and insightful The Third Reich in Power.

In the future, Sarah jokingly says, “Only the Lord knows.” However, she’s excited about her upcoming stories and hopes to finish her next three contracted books, then write more stories after that. She also hopes to continue teaching and speaking and meeting wonderful writers at conferences and online. And of course, there’s the traveling with her husband or on solo adventures as she explores and tries new things.

In parting, Sarah says, “I just want to say how much I love ACFW and the nurturing community we have here.” I echo that sentiment. Sarah and I have both been members of ACFW for many, many years, and our paths have crossed numerous times in a variety of ways. It’s always a blessing to return to ACFW and soak up that nurturing community, as she mentioned. Neither one of us would be published today without it.


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having an active imagination and a flair for the dramatic. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who works in the health & wellness and personal development industries, helping others become their best from the inside out. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and son, and a Shiba Inu-mix named Nova. She has sold over 20 books so far, three of which have won annual reader's choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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