Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Sarah Hanks!
Sarah: The story fell into me when Ferguson erupted in flames. I lived 10 minutes away from the epicenter. What the news didn’t show was that a community of people from various churches gathered in a tent to worship amid the chaos. It was in that tent that I went up for an altar call for artists and creatives. I say the story fell into me because that’s exactly what it felt like. One minute, I had nothing—no story to write. The next, I had this blossoming idea. A big idea, a big story. Too big to fit into one novel. I wrote book one so that I could write book two.
LM: The book is a contemporary/historical novel, commonly referred to as timeslip. Why did you decide to craft the story this way, and did you find it difficult to both combine and separate the stories?
Sarah: To understand what’s going on present day, we have to look to the past. This generation’s racial tension didn’t happen in a vacuum. I found that I couldn’t give Natassa’s story justice without telling Mercy’s story. It was a challenge to line the two stories up in a way that would make sense to the reader, but the result was satisfying.
LM: Research is an important part of writing, especially historic fiction. Your website includes an
Sarah: When I first met with Michele, I knew my character would be going to prison. It had to happen. The story told me so. There was no way around it. But I had in mind that he could go in, get out, and not be affected too much. I nearly cried when Michele shared what she knew about the prison system.
I loved my character (still do), and putting him through that was almost too much to bear. There was no way he could come out of there unaltered. There was no way the experience wouldn’t profoundly impact him. I started going with Michele into the prison to do ministry, and there I met men who, though behind bars, were my brothers in Christ. The experiences they shared touched me, and at times, shocked me. They helped me write my character’s story, including all the little details. There wasn’t one tidbit, but the summation of the experience.
LM: What is your writing process? (e.g., Do you come up with the plotline first? Characters? Do you outline the entire story before beginning or just sit down and start)
Sarah: I’ve changed over the years. I used to be a pantser. I sat down and wrote, then moved things around later. Now I fully plot things out. I have most of the story figured out, my characters mapped, and the setting researched before I ever type a paragraph. I work on the plot and characters in tandem and create character and setting posters to hang in my writing area. By the time I start hammering out the story, my fingers are tingling. I want to get it all down and am bursting to start. I rarely suffer from writer’s block this way, but it takes a long time on the front end.
LM: What one thing do you wish you knew how to do?
Sarah: Rest! I’m learning and growing in this area, but my natural inclination is to go, go, go. My mind is always churning, and I keep picking up projects. I wish I was better at slowing down, putting the to-do list away, and relaxing.
LM: What is one thing readers should know about you?
LM: What is your next project?
Sarah: Right now, I’m in the process of revamping my novel Drifting In and Out of Sleep for a second edition and writing a short story—part of the Mercy Series—for my website. I’m also planning a new timeslip novel that includes characters I’ve been getting to know for quite a while. I’m excited to explore their stories. And Mercy’s Legacy, book three of the Mercy Series, comes out this Winter.
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?
Sarah: My website is http://www.sarah-hanks.com. I’ve got a free eBook there for those who’d like to sample my work. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram as @authorsarahhanks.
About Mercy's Song:
DeAndre returns to Crawford County after dropping out of art school and finds an opportunity for romance. His past continues to haunt him, even as he and his new love seek to piece the broken shards of their lives together. Soon, a shocking discovery sends DeAndre reeling and forces him to choose between the woman he loves and his integrity. Will he end up losing everything or can he cling to hope despite it all?
In the 1840s, Mercy labors next to her mother in the rice fields and discovers a spark of affection growing between herself and Jonah, another slave. But Mama's health begins to fail, and the missus makes an announcement that will alter their lives forever. Will Mercy's plan to save them succeed? Or will they lose everything, including each other?
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