Interview with Brave Author Sarah Hanks

Hello and welcome to the Brave Blog! My name is Aubrey and I am standing in as this week’s Brave
Interviewer because this week, our Brave Author is none other than the very talented Sarah Hanks
herself! Let’s give her a warm welcome.

Aubrey: I’m going to jump right in and ask how you define bravery. What is it and where does it come

Sarah: You can tell a lot about my view of bravery from my books. I view bravery not as the absence of
fear. If you’re not afraid, you don’t need to be brave to move forward. Bethany tells Natassa “Do it
afraid” in Mercy Will Follow Me, and that might be my motto. I see bravery as coming from being
connected to Jesus. He is my source. As long as He is with me, I can overcome anything, endure
anything, “brave” anything. Sometimes I feel His presence. Sometimes I can’t feel Him, but I know He
will never leave me nor forsake me. Like Stella in Braving Strange Waters, I picture Him with me. I
picture holding His hand. On my own, I’m a wimp. I’m full of insecurities and plagued by fears. But with
Jesus by my side, His strength is perfected in my weakness.

Aubrey: “Do it afraid.” I like that, and I couldn’t agree more. Shifting gears a little, what’s your favorite
genre to read?
Sarah: I enjoy reading many different genres, but I tend to gravitate to two biggies. I really enjoy a good
WWII novel. Reading about how people endured the Holocaust or risked their lives to fight against
injustice inspires me. Show me how the best in humanity collides with the worst in humanity. Give me a
glimpse of the resilience of the human race, and how hope can spring up in the darkest of places. All the
better if it’s a split-time.
But then, after I read a heavy novel like that, I need to relax with a RomCom. As much as I love to cry at
a book that moves me, I love to laugh. I really, really love to laugh. Give me a book that will have me
snorting late at night. Sure, it annoys my husband when he’s trying to sleep, but he’ll get over it. He
always does.

Aubrey: I have read and enjoyed both of your books that alternate between the Civil War and today, but
I didn’t realize there was a difference between split-time and timeslip. You’ve written books in both
genres. I would be interested to know, what has inspired you to write in these genres? Did you always
want to write in them?

Sarah: Braving Strange Waters is my first timeslip/time travel novel. The rest of my novels are split-
time/dual timeline. I don’t think I had a genre in mind when I first wanted to be a writer. I only wanted
to write something impactful. I fell in love with dual timeline with Susan Meisner’s A Fall of Marigolds.
As intriguing as history is, something feels unfinished if it does not inform the present. I love exploring
how the past and the present intertwine, and how one impacts the other. How do we learn from what
happened before? How are we better because of it?

Aubrey: Important things to think about. Braving Strange Waters just came out. Do you celebrate when
you finish a book, and if so, what do you do to celebrate?

Sarah: I celebrate pretty much anything I can with ice cream. An award. A book release. Finishing a book.
Ice cream is my love language.

Aubrey: Mine too. [Laughs.] Which book of yours was your favorite to write, and why?

Sarah: Braving Strange Waters was the most fun to write by far. The concept is so fresh and interesting
and there were these little places to insert humor, which I enjoyed. I wrote this one directly after writing
Fall Back and Find Me, which was a heavy one for me, so I appreciated the buoyancy.

Aubrey: Which book of yours was the hardest to write? Why?

Sarah: A Battle Worth Fighting gave me the most trouble. Marriage on the rocks isn’t an easy thing to
write about. I had these two characters, Sahara and Jaxon, that I’d loved for years. I had been sitting on
their story for a long time and was excited to bring it to light. But this was a hard one. and I wanted the
reader to empathize with each of them while still finding the other likeable. I originally wrote it from
Sahara’s POV only. Everything changed for the better when I added in Jaxon’s perspective. Fall Back and
Find Me flowed much easier, but it was emotionally taxing to write because it was so personal.

Aubrey: Do you enjoy writing in third person or first person better? What about past or present tense?

Sarah: I love writing in first person present. It doesn’t work for every story. Truly, it doesn’t work for
many stories. But, when a character tells me they want their story written that way, I get excited. Liberty
in Mercy’s Legacy was one example. I tried her storyline in third person past, then first person past, then
third person present. Nothing felt right. When I tried first person present, it was like Liberty was saying,
“That’s it. This is what I need.” It flowed so easily then, and her storyline is one of my favorites.

Aubrey: Funny how they like to assert themselves, isn’t it? [Another laugh.] You write a lot of historical
fiction, which requires a lot of research. What subject have you done the most research on for your

Sarah: Probably slavery. In my Mercy series, I wrote from the perspective of a Mullato enslaved
girl/woman. I didn’t take this lightly. I spent hours and hours reading slave narratives and other books
on slavery. (I found the first-hand accounts the most helpful.) So much of what I read I’d never learned
in school, which bothered me. How could I be so ignorant of such a huge part of American history?
Other subjects I’ve done a lot of research on include steamboats, female soldiers in the Civil War, and
the prison system.

Aubrey: Where did you get the inspiration for your most recent book?

Sarah: My best friend Rene and I went on a cruise, along with her friend Michelle. The retro décor
reminded me of an antebellum steamboat. The antique postal box was so unique, it screamed to be
included in a novel. The elevator button showed the floors skipped from 12 to 14 (Where was the 13th
floor?) Rene and I took one elevator to the top deck while Michelle took another. Rene and I arrived and
waited for Michelle. And waited. And waited. Where was she? What was taking her so long? Obviously,
she was on the mysterious 13th floor, which was actually a time portal to an antebellum steamboat.
What other explanation could there be? When Michelle did finally arrive (she’d gotten turned around)
we chatted about story possibilities. My first time travel novel was in the works.

Aubrey: I love it! So, what are you working on now?

Sarah: I’m working on Whatever It Takes, the third and final book in my Sisters in Arms collection (split-
time novels that have a historical storyline of a female Civil War soldier). If you’ve read A Battle Worth
Fighting, you probably remember Bernie’s friend Henrietta. This one is Henrietta’s story, and it’s about

family and sacrifice. The contemporary storyline is going to be a heart-tugger as well. This will come out
next year.

Aubrey: Well, I know I can’t wait. I’ve enjoyed the other two books in the series and I definitely
appreciate the stories of those brave female soldiers. Thanks again, Sarah. Our best to you. Folks, if you
want to check out Sarah’s latest, Braving Strange Waters, it is available now on Amazon!

Stella Lindy is supposed to be soaking up the sunshine with her bridesmaids on a
bachelorette cruise to Hawaii. But when she hits the wrong button on the elevator, the
glamorous luxury of the modern ship is replaced with the Missouri River
steamboat Arabia filled with strangers—and a mysterious doctor informs her it is 1856.
Communicating through an antique mailbox, her friends on the cruise try to guide her
back home before the steamboat sinks, but Stella finds herself caught in a tangled web
between pro-slavery Border Ruffians and anti-slavery Jayhawkers. Standing up for
what’s right in the face of peril and uncertainty might mean never making it home.
Braving Strange Waters is a riveting time-slip novel with memorable characters, exciting
twists, and rich internal conflict that fans of Gabrielle Meyer will love.

Sarah Hanks is an award-winning author of Christian fiction in both the contemporary and historical
genres. After spending over a decade mostly writing and teaching Sunday school curricula for
churches in her community, she jumped into writing fiction full-time with her split-time novel Mercy
Will Follow Me. She and her husband have nine children, a couple of whom seem to have inherited
their mother’s love for playing with words and crafting stories. Though Sarah dreams of a cabin by
the beach, the family lives jammed together in beautiful chaos near St. Louis, Missouri. She buys
earplugs in bulk.
You can follow her on Facebook or Instagram @authorsarahhanks.

4 thoughts on “Interview with Brave Author Sarah Hanks

  1. Love this: “As intriguing as history is, something feels unfinished if it does not inform the present.” A very cool reason for split time/timeslip stories! Thanks for sharing with us, both of you. ❤

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