Today I have the pleasure of interviewing author Nona King about her upcoming novel Searching For Sara (which launched yesterday). I first connected with Nona over at ChristianWriters.com which is a great community.
Before we begin, here is a little about the book:
Sara Little has ached to live in America. But being born of a single mother in London’s working class, she could only dream. Drawn to the possibility of a new beginning, she follows God’s whisper into the unknown. But more awaits than the realization of her dreams. Caught in the whirlwind of debuts and dinner parties, she has fallen in love with the one man she believes doesn’t deserve..
Welcome Nona. Let’s start with the predictable question first – where did you get the idea for this story?
Searching for Sara was intended as a sequel to Broken Angel (not yet released). In this first version of Sara I killed the heroine, Rachel Samson, and inserted Sara Little as a new love interest for our grieving hero Robert Trent. The only reason I killed the heroine was to experiment with the intense emotions of grief and sorrow. This appalled my sister, who directed me to rewrite it. To be honest, rewriting the storyline gave me a sense of relief, and it became the best project ever undertaken. Of course, being able to create a new grieving hero, Christopher Lake, helped with that, I imagine.
How would you describe the main themes of Searching for Sara?
The main theme of Searching for Sara is not simply the growing relationship of trust and affection between Christopher Lake and Sara Little. The story also shows the blessings brought about by facing our fears, as well as what tortures come from allowing our lives to be swallowed by grief. Entwined through it all is the part faith and obedience play in our daily lives.
Each book of the Heart of the Blessed series is dedicated to a part of the “Beatitudes” from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew (Matthew 5:3–12). Searching for Sara focuses on those in v4 and v5.
The book has a historical setting, and it also spans multiple countries. What kind of research did you have to carry out to make this book authentic. What resources did you find helpful?
I did a lot of reading about Richmond, Virginia, and the technology available in the period. My father was also of tremendous help regarding the types of steam locomotives of the day and what routes were in common use. There were also many hours spent looking over maps and reading bits about the different boroughs of London. While I would rather have taken a long trip to see the two countrysides for myself, I had to make do with the internet. Wikipedia was immensely helpful as always, and it also directed me to other sites and pages with even richer bits of information.
An important part of this story is obviously the romance between the main characters, but I know you have indicated there is more to the book than this. With romance being stereotyped to a mostly female audience, what are some of the elements of Searching for Sara that you think will resonate with us blokes?
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know for certain. Each man is so wonderfully different. I always strive to make my male characters react as close to the real thing because I believe it makes the reading experience – as a whole – more enjoyable.
Since I am asked to hazard a guess, perhaps it is Christopher’s struggle to overcome the grief of losing his wife and newborn child? Though his faith flounders because of the loss, his devotion to his five year old daughter continues to drag him out of bed each morning. When he meets Sara, he is faced with the challenge of letting the grief go and facing a bleak future. More than that, he comes to see that his role is less when he does not have faith to guide him. Throughout Searching for Sara I do my best to honor the blessings men are to those around them and the struggles they face as head of the household.
That’s great. As a husband and father I am moved by the thought of such a loss, and can identify with the need to keep going for the sake of your child.
In the book, Sara receives a clear call from God to make a major change in her life. Did you feel a sense of responsibility attributing words to God in your story?
Indeed I did feel a sense of responsibility! I researched passages throughout the Bible dealing with fear and constantly prayed for His guidance. I guess one could say I felt and prayed my way through the writing of Searching for Sara, and more so than with my other books. It seemed so much more important to have my heart, mind, and spirit aligned for this one.
Did you draw on any personal experiences of hearing from God?
I drew upon personal experiences, yes, but more so of experiencing the blessed results after facing fear and listening to a press upon my heart before taking an action. In fact, I wouldn’t be married to my wonderful husband if I hadn’t acted in obedience to an internal press to face my fear and move to Washington State. But doors were being opened, and the impression just wouldn’t dissipate that this was the start of the next chapter in my life. Those personal experiences came to play in the final rewrite of Sara before it’s release.
Reading the premise, I notice both main characters start from a place of pain and hopelessness, yet one is poor and the other is rich. Was this a deliberate contrast?
No, it was not a deliberate contrast, but I rather like how each character had a different form of richness in their lives. Christopher has wealth, yes, but he also has the richness of friends and family. Sara, while not wealthy, is blessed with the richness of her faith and her memories of a loving relationship with her mother. They each give a different type of strength to the character, and in turn those draw one to the other for a final blessing.
Searching for Sara received a Certificate of Merit in the Deep River Books Writers Contest in March 2011. Tell me about this experience, and how it affected the journey from idea to published work.
While I suspect the contest was more used as an opportunity to draw people to their [expensive] publishing services, the email came at a time when I needed some positive attention. I was in the doldrums of “Why do I even bother with writing?” This award, as well as positive commentary from Nick Harrison with Harvest House publishers, helped me keep my head up and continue forward.
You describe Searching for Sara as ‘Heart of the Blessed Book 1’. What plans do you have for the future of this series? Did you always envisage this book as being the beginning of a larger
At present, there are two more books in the series, Releasing Yesterday and Broken Angel, and two others that are simply vague possibilities. When I first wrote Sara I thought she was a sequel to Broken Angel. When I rewrote her, I thought I completely disconnected her story from that of Rachel and Robert. But when I began writing Releasing Yesterday, I found that wasn’t true at all. Isn’t it funny how our characters can pull secrets from our own inspiration?
Yes, I think half the fun of writing is when our characters surprise us.
Thanks for letting me interview you today Nona. I wish you all the best with Searching For Sara and your other writing endeavours.
ABOUT NONA KING
Nona King is an independent writing professional for Angel Breath Books. She has dedicated herself to writing true-to-life characters, be they villain or hero, so her readers can experience life and its many passions. All her stories focus on faith, honor, and the importance of communication and trust in our relationships with others.