Thank you, Karen! It's a pleasure to be here. There were a lot of surprises. The war in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations doesn't get as much attention as the war in northern Europe, and I learned all sorts of interesting things. The American campaign in North Africa wasn't always pretty -- a lot of "should haves" and "should not haves" -- but they learned important lessons about commanders and tactics and strategy that paid off later in France and Germany.
I found it educational as I hadn't been aware of all the wartime activity in that area. This fictional account was an interesting way to learn about it. :) Early in the book, you referred to one of my all time favorite films -- The Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart. Do period films like these help you with elements such as clothing, etiquette, and setting?
Oh yes, also vocabulary and phrasing and prevalent attitudes. I love period films, and Jimmy Stewart is my all time favorite actor. I had the idea for With Every Letter while watching The Shop Around the Corner -- no big surprise, huh? The anonymous correspondence grabbed my interest, and I wondered what kind of person would relish anonymity.
So this is how the idea for your main character, Mellie Blake, originated?
Yes, the main idea came from the question above -- what kind of person would be drawn to anonymity? How about a woman who's shy and never fit in? Around that time, a couple of missionary children visited my Sunday School class. They'd spent most of their lives in Africa and they dressed and wore their hair differently than my fourth graders did, talked differently, and were interested in different things. I found the children delightful, but it was fascinating to watch my regulars. These are some of the nicest kids in the world, but they didn't quite know what to make of the newcomers. My heart went out to the visiting children. They probably didn't belong in Africa, and they didn't belong in America. So I gave Mellie a similar background, straddling two cultures and not belonging in either.
Absolutely! The second book in the Wings of the Nightingale series, On Distant Shores, comes out in June 2013. Lt. Georgie Taylor fears she's in over her head as a fight nurse, but she enjoys her friendship with Sgt. John "Hutch" Hutchinson, an Army pharmacist. As Hutch and Georgie care for patients in Sicily and Italy, tragedy draws them together, but their differences threaten to keep them apart.
The third book comes out in June 2014. Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she goes, but C-47 pilot Roger Cooper is immune to her charms. Throughout Italy and southern France, as she evacuates the wounded and he delivers paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them where they don't want to go.
Sounds great! Looking forward to reading them. Will you come back and visit us then?
Yes, thank you, I will!
Thank you so much for joining us, Sarah. I wish you many blessings and great success with your books. :)
Thank you, Karen. It's been fun to stop by and see everyone. Thanks for having me!
Lieutenant Mellie Blake happily serves her country, now deeply involved in World War 2. She didn’t have friends as a child, having lived overseas part time due to her father’s job. As an adult, she’s had difficulty making friends, so she keeps a professional distance from the other Army nurses. This plan works just fine, until her supervisors order her to make friends and fit in or else.
Tom MacGilliver, also a Lieutenant in the United States Army, keeps a low profile for other reasons. His father’s shady past has made their last name a household word, and Tom hasn’t been able to shake the stigma. To make matters worse, he’s unable to gain true respect from the men in his company.
Mellie reluctantly participates in a morale-building program where nurses correspond anonymously with soldiers. She agrees to write one letter. Turns out, the letter goes to Tom. And he writes back. These two lonely souls settle into a routine of correspondence, feeling secure with their agreement of anonymity.
Mellie’s duties as a flight nurse take her overseas, close to Tom’s unit. As the war intensifies, their affection for each other grows and both entertain notions of revealing their identities. Will fear and circumstances prevent a meeting?
Sarah Sundin’s attention to historical detail is outstanding. It lends authenticity and character to her stories. Not only does she entertain readers, she challenges them through her characters’ flaws and growth. I enjoyed getting to know Mellie and Tom, and watching them stretch out of their comfort zone as they got acquainted and navigated their way through perilous times. I enjoyed With Every Letter thoroughly, and am looking forward to the next books in the series.
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You can visit Sarah and find out more about her other books, which are very good, btw, on her website and on her blog.
Prior to hearing about Sarah's book, did you know that Army nurses helped evacuate soldiers during World War II? Do you have any questions for Sarah?
Happy reading and writing,