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Author interview: Sarah McCoy

January 31, 2012

I met Sarah McCoy on Twitter a while ago and, as soon as I found out she’s a Hokie, I knew I liked her!  I actually liked her before that, but when I found out she’s a Hokie, I knew why.  (Sarah’s such a good sport, she sent me this photo of her in her Virginia Tech snuggie when I asked for a picture of her in maroon and orange.)  Sarah’s newest book, The Baker’s Daughter, came out last week and I’m really excited about it.  I was thrilled when I had the chance to ask Sarah a few questions.  Here’s what she had to say:

Your newest book, The Baker’s Daughter, weaves a story from the past with a present day story.  How much research did you have to do to get the details right?

A great deal! But I’m such a history nerd. I very much enjoy digging into the past and unearthing interesting facts and firsthand accounts.  When I was in college and graduate school, I’d get butterflies in my stomach when I went into the big, grand university libraries to pull historical texts for research papers. There was something magical about those rows of old books; true-life stories that hadn’t been read in years, sometimes decades or longer. I used to sequester myself in the farthest back table and spread the books out in a big arc. It was like meeting new, old friends. So the research, while time consuming, is part of the fun for me. I don’t pop out a novel every year for that exact reason. I need time to dig into the facts, collect, dream on all of the details left unsaid, then allow those stories to grow and bloom on the page. I began research for The Baker’s Daughter in August 2007 and the story is finally hitting the shelves in 2012. There’s the math.

Family relationships play an important role in both of your books.  Do you get inspiration from your own family when you write?

Absolutely. I see myself and most writers as story channelers. Every experience we have in our memory banks informs the characters and story.  So naturally, the most essential members of our lives–our parents, siblings, friends, spouses, pets, grandparents, etc.– inspire us. I’m incredibly close with my family. For my first book, The Time It Snowed In Puerto Rico, my mother’s Puerto Rican side was the fertile ground for my imagination. For The Baker’s Daughter, I wouldn’t have been nearly as captivated by the subject of Germans in WWII Germany if my family hadn’t have been stationed there during my childhood. I wouldn’t understand how love, sacrifice, duty, and honor can get all mixed up if I wasn’t the daughter of an Army officer. I wouldn’t understand the secret pains and bonds between mothers and daughters if I weren’t so close with my mother and grandmother. And so on.

Describe your ideal writing day.

On good writing days, it goes something like this: I get up, feed my dog Gilly and take him outside; I make a cup of tea; then I sit at my writing desk and work. Some days I take an hour to make a warm stovetop lunch while other days, I eat at my desk. I write until my husband comes home from work between 7-8 p.m. Then it’s time to make dinner and have QT with him. Let my brain detox from the page. I get on Twitter while he watches TV at night and chat with my book friends. That’s always fun!  Every other day, I try to carve out an hour to do something with
momentum– i.e. exercise. Otherwise, I get a serious case of ants-in-the-pants and can be mighty persnickety to my husband. Truthfully, my days hardly ever go as I plan or the same as the one before. There’s always something– phone conferences, research outside the house, a run to the grocery store, making cookies for a friend, my momma calls, take the pup to the Groomer, emails, emails, emails… you know, life. This is a very roundabout way to come to the conclusion that I don’t have an ideal  day. Maybe that’s a good thing because I’m never disappointed!

Since your mother is from Puerto Rico and you’ve lived in Germany, I’m wondering how many languages you speak.

English. Yeah, I know, it’s shameful. But I can’t claim to speak either Spanish or German fluently. If I were dropped down in the middle of Germany or Puerto Rico, I could get along, but by no means would I say I sprechen Sie los lenguajes. Luckily, I have loved ones who do: my husband is fluent in German and my mother’s side of the family speak more Spanish than English. But I have gotten some wrong! In The Time It Snowed In Puerto Rico, I had a couple words that were incorrectly conjugated. My wonderful readers pointed them out so my editor and I could make corrections in future printings. I learned fast and had my husband tripe-quadruple check my German in The Baker’s Daughter.

What’s been your biggest surprise on your road to publication?

How lovely, supportive, and far-reaching the virtual reading community is! Being a writer, I spend much of my time alone, crafting characters in my mind and methodically grooming the prose. So to discover a thriving literary community online has been such a blessing. It is how I met you, my blogging friend, and I’m dearly grateful. Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads are such vital resources for bringing together readers and authors. I can’t sing their praises enough. They’ve allowed me, little writer lady, Sarah McCoy, out in the sand dunes of El Paso, to connect with thousands of cherished book-loving friends across the globe.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing or reading?

I like to jog and do some form of calisthenics (yoga, ballet, Pilates, etc.). As I mentioned, when I’m sitting still for hours on end, it helps to have a physical outlet for my pent up energy. As well, I love traveling with my husband and am a dog aficionado. Anything that relates to my pup, sign me up. I also enjoy cooking and gift-giving. That last one sounds odd, but I get such a kick out of packaging things. The paper, wrappings, bows and cards. It’s such a meticulous, Type-A thing to enjoy. I only do it on special occasions so it always feels magical. Everything is so
virtual these days that sometimes it’s just nice to feel thick, decorative paper between your fingers and see handwritten notes.

Be sure to follow Sarah on Twitter and check out her websiteThe Baker’s Daughter is available now from your local independent bookseller.

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2012 8:01 am

    I cannot wait to read her book. I have it on tap for this month or next. I’m excited to get into it now…her enthusiasm for historical research has me excited

  2. January 31, 2012 8:02 am

    I enjoyed this interview and look forward to reading her books!

  3. January 31, 2012 8:29 am

    Just read this one and I think it’s going to be a popular pick with book clubs!!! Great interview. I’m excited to meet Sarah at the end of February at an event at Aaron’s Books.

  4. January 31, 2012 8:41 am

    I really enjoyed this Q&A. I have the Baker’s Daughter on my wish list. Great post!

  5. January 31, 2012 8:50 am

    Enjoyable interview! I actually saw a license plate that said HOKIES the other day – first one I’ve seen out in Arizona!

  6. January 31, 2012 8:57 am

    Great interview! I will be starting The Baker’s Daughter today or tomorrow and I can’t wait!

  7. January 31, 2012 9:04 am

    I enjoyed this interview! Off to check out her website.

  8. January 31, 2012 9:20 am

    I loved this interview, and got really excited about Sarah’s obvious love of history and historical texts. I know that when I am in a big library, that is where I go first as well. It’s also funny to hear her mention the ants-in-the-pants, because I get them all the time, and have to get up and get moving for a good part of each day! This was a great way to get to know Sarah. I can’t wait to read her book!

  9. January 31, 2012 9:58 am

    What a wonderful interview!! Of course I too met Sarah on twitter and became an instant fan. Having now read both her books, I will be impatiently waiting for the next. The Baker’s Daughter is so very well written, so historically authentic I just was in love from the start. I only have a few eras of history that I love, and WWII is one of them, perhaps it’s because my parents lived through it and their stories have dotted my life.
    Thank you for such a wonderful post to start my day!!

  10. January 31, 2012 10:06 am

    I feel the same way about historical research. My only problem with it is that I can’t bear to stop. Takes will power to say, “OK, that’s enough!”

  11. January 31, 2012 10:13 am

    She just seems like such a NICE person! She is a delight on Twitter. And I said so on my review of The Baker’s Daugthter, which is up next week. I LOVED that book! And that is saying something, as I am pretty hyper-critical with WWII novels. I was impressed that she managed to unearth this topic of the Lebensborn Program in Nazi Germany, which weirdly I’d never heard of before. It knocked me for a loop. Great interview ladies!

  12. marisaporter permalink
    January 31, 2012 11:25 am

    Can’t wait to read!!

  13. January 31, 2012 12:25 pm

    Great Q&A! Sarah seems wonderful, and I’m excited to get my hands on the book. 🙂

  14. January 31, 2012 1:53 pm

    A great interview, her book is on my tbr list.

  15. January 31, 2012 2:03 pm

    I read this book from a e-galley from Edelweiss, not a great copy. Lots of misprints. But, totally enjoyed reading Baker’s Daughter. You can read my review at my blog. I know it is early, but I think it is one of the best books for 2012. If I change my mind I will eat my words.

    Rich in history, and liked the writing style, going back and forth in time. I highly recommend it.

  16. January 31, 2012 2:06 pm

    at my blog at http://susansliterarycafe.blogspot.com/2012/01/you-have-to-read-bakers-daughter-by.html best novel of this year. A bit of history, I did not know about. Interesting to parellel mexican border patrol and the German military.

  17. January 31, 2012 3:07 pm

    Lovely interview and it sounds like a lovely book…

  18. Susan permalink
    January 31, 2012 4:43 pm

    Just bought a Nook,but will order the Print Version of The Bakers Daughter because I think I need to hold The Bakers Daughter Sarah,just seems like a book I need to snuggle with..Great Interview Kathy and Sarah..

  19. January 31, 2012 6:39 pm

    What a fun interview! Sarah’s book is next on my list.

  20. January 31, 2012 7:04 pm

    Oh, oh, oh — I just loved this interview. What fun. I can’t believe I’m so late to the party

  21. January 31, 2012 7:28 pm

    Now I know that I’m definitely going to like her too! I will have to check her book, and that photo is just so awesome!

  22. January 31, 2012 7:51 pm

    Excellent interview! And the book sounds wonderful!

  23. January 31, 2012 10:57 pm

    oh my what a fun person she sounds like! I love this interview you conducted with her! And one day you will have to share with me how you have time for all the books you read, your regular post schedule, all the events you attend and maintaining a presence on Twitter! You are my blog idol!

  24. January 31, 2012 10:59 pm

    What a great picture of her! You just know she’s going to be fun to talk to.

  25. February 1, 2012 3:00 am

    Enjoyed this post.

  26. Staci@LifeintheThumb permalink
    February 1, 2012 8:23 pm

    Oh my…I found her so personable and lovely!! I will be reading her book for TLC and posting my review 2/14…I’m excited to read it!

  27. February 2, 2012 3:41 pm

    What a joy this was to read about Sarah McCoy. She sounds so charming and like someone who really enjoys what she does. Now I have to read her books. Thanks Kathy for sharing her with us.

  28. February 2, 2012 8:10 pm

    I’m really enjoying following Sarah’s online tour – each interview/conversation touches on different parts of her work and of her personality. Boy, she writes for long stretches each day … that may be the secret to turning out such wonderful writing (perseverance).

  29. February 2, 2012 8:42 pm

    I’m blushing like a pre-teen Sarah at a New Kids On The Block concert. I’m so, so happy to know Kathy. She is a true gem. This interview was such fun, and I loved being able to meet all of you. Thank you for your gracious, kind comments. They mean so much! I hope you enjoy reading THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER and all of my work. Cheers to new friends!

  30. February 3, 2012 7:00 pm

    I would love to receive a beautifully wrapped gift from Sarah 😉

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