One of my very favorite historical eras to read about is World War II, a naturally dramatic time period that lends itself to engaging stories. With eight novels set in that time period, Sarah Sundin has become a master of the genre. Her latest book, Anchor in the Storm, has just released from Revell to widespread acclaim. Publishers Weekly said, “Sundin, exhibiting her usual flair for 1940s history and setting, will delight WWII buffs.” Booklist called it “an optimal hybrid of 1940s crime and romance” And RT (Romantic Times) Book Review gave it four stars, saying, “Full of exciting intrigue . . . just the right amount of romance to balance out the drama.”
Here’s the scoop: For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. She loves the wartime challenges of her new job but spurns the attention of society boy Ens. Archer Vandenberg. As Arch’s destroyer battles U-boats along the East Coast, Lillian uncovers a black market drug ring. Arch and Lillian work together on the investigation, but can he ever earn her trust and affection?
If you’d like to enter to win a free copy of Anchor in the Storm, simply post a comment below or send an e-mail to jenny (at) jenniferlamontleo.com. The winner will be drawn at random on Monday, May 9, 2016, and I’ll notify the winner.
Jennifer Lamont Leo: Welcome, Sarah. Anchor in the Storm is the second release in your Waves of Freedom series, set during World War II.* What has intrigued you about this time in history?
Sarah Sundin: The World War II era has always fascinated me—and not just because of the swinging music, cute dresses, and men in uniform. It was a time when ordinary men learned they could do extraordinary things, and when women tried exciting new roles. The war highlighted the darkest nature of humanity, but it also brought out the best. It’s an era full of drama, daring, and romance—perfect for a novel.
JLL: What sparked your imagination for this particular story?
SS: My husband and I are both pharmacists. A few years ago he made a transition from medical research to community pharmacy, and he was stunned at the extent of the narcotic abuse epidemic that’s now making the news. He cracked down on shady prescriptions, and my novelist’s brain began to churn. What if he angered someone big in the illegal drug community? But what if it happened in World War II? And the pharmacist was a woman? And I gave her a physical disability to make things even more interesting…?
JLL: Tell us a bit about your research process for Anchor in the Storm. Do you have any favorite resources for World War II research?
SS: For starters, I had to research life in the US Navy, the U-boat war off America’s East Coast, pharmacy practice, and Boston during World War II. My favorite resource for WWII military research is the HyperWar website, which contains hundreds of documents—manuals, official histories, and more. For researching the Battle of the Atlantic, I’ve been a frequent visitor at uboat.net, an extraordinarily thorough and well-researched site. For Lillian’s story, my favorite resource was a book called Pharmacy in World War II by Dennis Worthen.
JLL: What do you most hope readers will take away from Anchor in the Storm?
SS: Both Arch and Lillian have placed their identity and security in their careers. But when those careers are threatened, so is that identity, that security. I hope readers will learn along with Arch and Lillian that our true identity rests in Christ alone, and that the Lord is our security. That’s the “hope we have as an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19).
JLL: Are there any particular challenges you’re facing in your writing life these days?
SS: My family is going through a lot of change. Our oldest son graduated from college and got a Real Job, our daughter got married—and they’re all living a full day’s drive away. Our youngest son graduates from high school next month and ships out to Navy boot camp this summer. These are all happy and wonderful things, but change is…change. And deadlines are deadlines.
JLL: How do you stay spiritually grounded during the writing and publishing process?
SS: God has a way of keeping me grounded and bonking me on the head any time that head threatens to get swollen. I can count on it—and I’m glad of it. He’s also placed wonderful, godly friends in my life who know me as “Sarah,” not as “Sarah Sundin, Author.” They slap me upside the head when I get whiny or fretful or just plain annoying. With all the head-bonking and head-slapping, I should have a concussion by now.
JLL: What are you reading these days?
SS: Funny you should ask, because I recently finished a charming, sparkling novel called You’re the Cream in My Coffee, by a certain Jennifer Lamont Leo (shameless plug intended).
JLL: You are too kind. 🙂 🙂 🙂
SS: And I just started reading another debut novel called Close to You, by Kara Isaac—it’s about a woman who conducts Tolkien tours in New Zealand and a man who’s stuck on a tour against his will. Great fun!
JLL: What’s on your music playlist?
SS: An awful lot of big band music! Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, the Andrews Sisters, Artie Shaw. I love it, and it puts me “In the Mood” to write my stories. Now it’s your turn to slap me.
JLL: What’s the next book project coming up for you?
SS: The third book in the Waves of Freedom series, When Tides Turn, is going through edits right now, and I’m starting work on my new series about three estranged brothers who fight on D-Day from the sea, the air, and the ground.
JLL: Thank you so much, Sarah. Anchors in the Storm is a marvelous story.
SS: Thank you so much for hosting me today!
*(Breaking news: The first book in the series, Through Waters Deep, has just been named a finalist in the prestigious INSPY Awards for faith-driven fiction!)
About Sarah: Sarah Sundin is the author of eight historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm. Her novel Through Waters Deep was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in Where Treetops Glisten was a finalist for the 2015 Carol Award. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. http://www.sarahsundin.com
Disclosure: I’ve been given a review copy of this book by the publisher. This generosity, while appreciated, has not biased my review. I also post some of my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.