Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I have author Sharon Leaf as my guest. I LOVE THIS INTERVIEW! Sharon is SO inspiring to Christians of all ages and I cannot wait for you to see what she has done! I love that her travels are so Christ-centered, and that she’s taken her experiences and turned them into a novel. Seriously – read on. You’ll be so thrilled to get to know her, too. She’s giving away a copy of her book Lady and the Sea. Read on to see how you can enter to win!
Tell us about yourself. I was born in South Carolina and raised in Southern California. Since turning forty, my husband Rob and I have traveled to over twenty countries, lived in Sweden for a year, traveled through fourteen cities on the Trans-Siberian Railway to give clothing, hospital needs and share the gospel of Christ, and volunteered on a WWII ship whose sole purpose was to transport Russian Jews from the Black Sea to Israel. I received a degree in theology at sixty, proving that it’s never too late to fulfill another dream. When I turned seventy, my husband and I—on a whim—bought a 40-foot motor home and have been traveling the USA for the past three years and volunteering with first-response organization Christ In Action (CIA). We have recently downsized to a cozy condo on Lake Murray in South Carolina. Who said retirement is boring?
Tell us about your current release. Lady and the Sea is a novel inspired by my true story:
After two failed marriages, forty-eight-year-old Rosie Atkisson struggles through the painful process of rebuilding her life with her husband, Jesse, in Southern California. But the settled rhythm of her newfound comfort is interrupted by a tug in her heart when she encounters a haunting photo of another aging lady, the World War II vessel MS Restoration.
A special mission to transport Russian Jews from the Black Sea to Israel means an adventure of a lifetime. Does she dare pass up this dangerous assignment that will take her thousands of miles from her family and comfortable life? In spite of her fear of water and the unknown condition of the ship, Rosie thinks this might be the opportunity she’s been waiting for to serve God.
After surviving fourteen months on board the old ship—from a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico to a heart attack in Greece, and now being held at gunpoint in the Haifa Harbor—Rosie wonders if she will ever return to her own safe harbor.
What inspired you to start writing? My personal experiences. In the ’70s when I joined the running craze and I taught a running class at my church, I was inspired to write a book to encourage women how to enjoy running their physical race and their spiritual race—at their own pace. I typed many drafts and final manuscript on my Smith-Corona typewriter as a non-fiction; however, Lady on the Run will be published as a novel in 2019. Fast-forward to the ’90s. After traveling to over twenty countries, living in Sweden, and volunteering on a WWII ship for fourteen months, I was inspired to write Lady and the Sea, a novel based on my true story. Since its publication, this book has encouraged women of all ages that it’s never too late to follow their dreams.
Do you have a plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I write a rough draft of my plot line and the characters. As I continue writing, the plotline develops and the characters come alive in my mind and jumps on the pages. You might be surprised and fascinated how your story ends. I certainly was.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Write what you know. Write what you care about. Follow your heart and see where it leads you. Don’t stay discouraged (I guarantee that you will experience this negative feeling now and then). Don’t give up! Keep writing. Most important, pray. And don’t forget to make time for your family and friends because writing can be demanding and isolating.
What is your inspiration for writing? I’m inspired when readers write or tell me personally how much the message of Lady and the Sea meant to them. My inspiration for writing is to encourage readers to follow their dreams. It’s never too late for those dreams to come true … in God’s timing.
Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story? Yes, I remember because I was living this story. The thought crossed my mind after living fourteen months on the WWII ship. I learned so much about me and about living in such close quarters with people from different countries. “How in the world did I get here?” I asked myself as I scrubbed the concrete halls of the old ship. After much prayer, I decided to write my story to encourage readers that as we follow God’s leading, He will direct our path in a journey that we could never imagine. Just hold on tight and go for it!
What is the farthest location you traveled in order to research this book? Russia, Siberia, Israel, Greece, Scandinavia, England. Like I mentioned, I live my research. I lived this amazing story that took me to places that I’ve only dreamed about.
How hard is it to come up with names for your characters? What are some of the sources you use? Not hard at all. I don’t look for strange names. In this book, Lady and the Sea, I used names that sounded familiar to some of the original characters in the story. In my upcoming book, Lady on the Run, it was easy to come up with names because my sources were mostly friends of mine. My true friend, Debbie, told me, “Make sure I’m in your next book, and make me the gorgeous blond!” So, the antagonist is Debbie, the sultry new neighbor! Unfortunately, my true friend Debbie went to heaven three years ago so she didn’t get to laugh and cry at her character. I’ve dedicated Lady on the Run to her because she was a strong, courageous woman of God who fought cancer with a vengeance.
Sharon is giving away a signed hardback copy of Lady and the Sea to a reader! See below how you can enter to win: