Q&A with Sarah Sundin, Author of The Sky Above Us

Sarah Sundin

Did you love the first book in Sarah Sundin’s Sunrise at Normandy series? Well, this one is for you! The Sky Above Us is the second in the series and will show readers yet another side to the Paxton family through the eyes of Lt. Adler Paxton.

For those who love a historical fiction novel this one ticks all the boxes. It is incredibly well-researched and will transport readers to World War II and the moments leading up to D-day. The Sky Above Us is a perfect spring read that will have you gripped from start to finish!

Author, Sarah Sundin, kindly sat down to answer some questions about her latest novel, as well as to give us a little insight in to what she is working on next…

The Sky Above Us is now available for purchase, click here for more. 

Q: The Sky Above Us is the second book in the Sunrise at Normandy series. How is this book different from your preceding novel?

A: The first novel in the Sunrise at Normandy series, The Sea Before Us, looked at D-day from the sea through the eyes of US naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton and British “Wren” Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax. In The Sky Above Us, we’ll see the buildup to D-day from the air as Lt. Adler Paxton and his fighter group struggle for air superiority before the invasion – and while Red Cross worker Violet Lindstrom serves the airmen. We’ll see another side of the Paxton family and the tragedies that tore them apart.

Q: You introduce the readers to some new characters in your book. Do you have a favorite character?

A: I have to admit Adler’s best friend, pilot Nick Westin, almost stole the show. He’s very different from any character I’ve ever written, and I like him so much. He lives out the Christian life in a compelling way, patient with Adler when he’s angry and hurting, confronting him when he crosses the line, never judging him for his sin, but gently coaxing him toward the Lord. Plus, he’s funny.

Q: The Sky Above Us has some unexpected twists. What was the inspiration behind your creative plot?

A: For the action plot, I was inspired by the research I’d done for my first series, Wings of Glory, which featured bomber pilots. I longed to write about a fighter pilot – and about the Red Cross workers who served overseas. This allowed me to highlight the aerial aspect of D-day, which is often overlooked. From a story standpoint, I wanted to explore what it would be like to have committed sins that most would consider unforgivable. How do you live with yourself? How do you seek forgiveness from God and those you hurt? And how do you live with the truth that you might never be reconciled with your loved ones?

Q: Readers and reviewers have often commented on the historical accuracy of your novels. What type of research was required for this book?

A: This book was great fun for me. I was able to return to the research I’d done on the US Eighth Air Force for the Wings of Glory series, but approaching from a new direction. I read the pilot’s manuals for the P-51B Mustang fighter plane and learned how to fly it (on paper anyway – do not put me in the cockpit). I read stories of fighter pilots and the 357th Fighter Group. And it was fascinating to learn about the vital role of the American Red Cross overseas. Did you know they served over 1.6 billion donuts during the war?

Q: As you researched, did you find anything especially intriguing about D-day or World War II?

A: I’m constantly amazed how much there is to learned about World War II! Writing this book, I was struck by the role the Allied air forces played int he success in Normandy. When we watch footage or movies of D-day, there are no enemy aircraft overheard. Indeed, only two German fighter planes managed to get through to the invasion beaches on D-day. We can only imaging the disaster if the Luftwaffe had been able to attack in force. All this was the result of months of attacks on German airfields, aircraft factories, oil refineries – as well as the famous dogfights. On D-day, over eleven thousand aircraft protected the sailors and soldiers below. I enjoyed shining a light on a little-known aspect of this historic day.

Q: What do you hope readers gain from reading The Sky Above Us?

A: I hope readers see themselves in both Adler and Violet – I certainly did. Adler’s motto is “If it hurts, don’t think about it.” And everything hurts, from the loss of his fiancee to the “unforgivable” sins he committed the night she died. In Adler, I saw myself as a sinner who also does not deserve forgiveness – who does? I felt such compassion for him in his pain and joy as he came into the light.

Violet, on the other hand, is the “good” Christian girl who has always longed to be a missionary. She’s appalled by the crude ways of the airmen at the air base and struggles to serve them. Through events in the story, she comes to see the self-righteousness and judgmental ways that lurk inside – and how devastatingly harmful those sins can be. Her story forced me to confront those same attitudes in my heart.

The theme verses for this novel turned out to be Matthew 20:16: “The last shall be first, and the first last.” This played out in many ways in both Adler’s and Violet’s stories – and in mine as well!

Q: What’s next on your writing to-do list?

A: Currently I’m writing The Land Beneath Us, the third book in the Sunrise at Normandy series. This novel features the youngest brother, Private Clay Paxton, who serves as an Army Ranger on the ground on D-day, and Leah Jones, a librarian and an orphan searching for clues about her past. Can he truly forgive the brothers who wronged him? And will D- day – and foreboding dream – tear Clay and Leah apart?

The Sky Above Us is now available for purchase, click here for more. 

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