Is there a story behind Where Treetops Glisten?
Several years ago, Cara Putman asked Tricia Goyer and me if we’d like to write a WWII Christmas novella collection, and we loved the idea. The plan rested for several months, then at Christmastime, a story idea hit me with such force that I knew I had to write it, whether or not anyone else was on board. A Christmas song on the radio prodded up an image of a child wandering the streets, looking for something she’d lost…and a man determined to help her…and since it’s a romance, the mother is widowed…and the child decides the man is going to be her new daddy…however, the man had bullied the mother when they were young, and she wants nothing to do with him. Can he convince her he’s changed? Most of my story ideas build slowly over time, but this one flew together within an hour. I couldn’t take notes fast enough.
Who is the most fun character you ever created?
Almost every book has someone fun, but Linnie Kessler in Where Treetops Glisten might be the most fun. She’s six years old and too bright for her own good. She never stops moving and never stops talking, which drives her teacher and babysitter crazy. When her father was killed in World War II, her great-grandmother tried to comfort her by saying Linnie would see her daddy in all the places they used to go. Linnie takes this literally, and she often runs away to wander downtown where she hopes to see her daddy in the store windows. This aching hole in the child’s heart made her real and vulnerable to me, but she’s also hysterically funny. And no, I don’t know where she comes up with some of the things she says—I just transcribed the words she spoke.
Do you type or write by hand? Computer? Typewriter? Legal pad?
I wrote my first five novels longhand in pencil on scratch paper (the Wings of Glory series and two unpublished “starter novels”). When I entered the chapters into the computer, it served as my first edit. However, when I wrote Blue Skies Tomorrow, the final Wings of Glory book, I realized what I was entering in the computer was almost exactly what I’d written by hand. My writing had become tighter and cleaner and better planned. Now the longhand phase was wasting time—and for the first time, I was writing under contract with a deadline! When I started the Wings of the Nightingale series, I wrote straight into the computer and haven’t looked back. However, I do much of my pre-writing—brainstorming, notes, character charts, early outlines—by hand. Creativity seems to flow when I put pen to paper.
Do you archive everything you write?
I’m kind of obsessive about this. I print hard copies of each chapter when I finish, because I still have a mortal fear of ALL computers EVERYwhere DYING. But at least I’d have my hard copy! Yes, I come from a long line of chronic worriers. But my hard copy also looks pretty, and I love watching my binder get fatter and fatter. Then I get emotionally attached to my pretty binders, and I hate the idea of just recycling them as if they meant absolutely nothing to me. Yes, I come from a long line of packrats. So my big fat binders are accumulating. Someday soon I must be brutal and purge.
Do you ever write based on your dreams?
I have. My very first novel came from a dream. In fact, that dream turned me from a pharmacist/stay-at-home mom to a writer/pharmacist/stay-at-home mom. That morning in 2000, I woke from a dream so compelling I simply had to write it down. I felt weird and uncomfortable doing so, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. That’s one rough draft I’ll never recycle because its sheer awfulness humbles me. However, my love for that story led me to connect with writers’ groups and to attend my first conference. Then I began to learn to write.
Does music help you write?
Yes and no. I listen to big band music in my car when my teenagers aren’t around to mock me. Those songs put me (prepare for a bad pun)…”In the Mood” to write about World War II. The rhythm of the music, the lyrics, and the emotion inspire character and scene ideas. However, when I’m actually writing, music distracts me. I work best in silence, with normal household background noise, or even at the karate studio—but not with music.
How do you find the time to write?
I make the time to write. I don’t believe anyone in the history of the world has ever found time. If there are any minutes floating around waiting to be found, they get instantly gobbled up. We must make time. When my kids were little, I wrote during naptime, then during school hours or during homework time. I’ve written at the ballet studio, on the sidelines waiting for a soccer game, at the DMV office, and once I even sketched out a scene on a napkin in line at
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Through Waters Deep (Revell, summer 2015) kicks off the Waves of Freedom series, which follows three American naval officers based in
during WWII. In 1941, as Boston
teeters on the brink of World War II, Mary Stirling works at the Boston Navy
Yard and renews an old friendship with naval officer Ens. Jim Avery. Jim’s
destroyer escorts British convoys across the America North Atlantic,
but problems on his ship point to a saboteur at the shipyard. As Mary works to
find the culprit and Jim battles U-boats, their friendship promises to blossom
into something more. But could a deeper friendship rip them apart?
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Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart