About the Author
A native of Washington State, Sondra Kraak grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, blogging about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was a Genesis semi-finalist (2015) and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women’s Fiction Award (2015). Sondra has since published three novels.
1. What or whom inspired you to become an author?
I’ve created stories in my imagination since childhood. I enjoyed reading fiction in high school. Then I got busy with the academics of college and seminary and that story part of me was set aside. I started reading fiction again when I had little ones, and the stories in my emerged. It seemed natural to try writing them down.
2. Who are some of your favorite authors? Do they influence your writing?
I don’t read just for fun anymore. I read to learn, which makes me slow down, which in turn makes the experience richer. These are the authors that teach me:
-Ronie Kendig. Her heroes are amazing. Wounded, strong, special ops men. That’s my type of man. And Ronie’s writing is so easy to read. It flows through my head like my own thoughts. I don’t have a military background and can’t plot suspense well, otherwise I’d be writing in her genre.
-Susan May Warren. Deep, deep characters with fun quirks. Susie writes rich descriptions and great kisses, and her heroes are manly men (smokejumpers are almost as cool as special ops men).
Tamera Alexander. Beautiful, rich history, and great humor.
-Jennifer Rodewald. She tackles tough issues and her love for Jesus comes through in her writing. She also has a witty voice. I love wit and banter.
-Karen Witemeyer. I loved her early books. They stirred my dreams for writing historical romance, which was what I always wanted to write growing up.
-Denise Hunter. She creates great chemistry between hero and heroine, and like Susan May Warren, writes the best kisses.
-Becky Wade. Specifically, My Stubborn Heart. Again, it’s the wounded hero issue. Matt Jarreau might be my favorite hero ever. And the heroine is extremely witty and loveable.
-Ronie Kendig . . . oh, wait. I already said her. Did I also mention I like wounded heroes?
Favorite authors from the ’90’s that influenced my love of story and romance: Lori Wick, Linda Chaikin, Francine Rivers, Bodie and Brock Thoene.
3. When did you write your first novel? Is this story published?
I found the courage to branch into fiction six years ago. I had to barrel past fears and misunderstanding that writing romance was subpar to the theological writing of my Biblical studies degree. I simply can’t help it. I love romance. My first novel, which took three years to write, is Such a Hope, released last October. My first released novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, is the product of NaNoWriMo 2016 (National Novel Writing Month, which is November). Two Ways Home is the stand alone sequel to One Plus One. The next book in the series, Three Words and a Kiss, will be out later this year. I’m also working on a stand alone sequel to Such a Hope.
4. What does your writing process look like?
Messy. Amorphous. Unpredictable. I’ll try to make some sense of it. It begins with characters, their wounds, and the question, “How can Jesus heal this person?” Specifically, “How will Jesus use romance to minister healing in this person’s life?” *Side note—falling in love was tremendously healing for me and I consider it a sacred season of my life.* Back to the process. I jot down a few events of how the two will meet, what needs to happen to move the character toward healing, and then I’m off and writing. I get stuck, edit and rearrange, jot down more scene ideas. Always, I’m hearing dialogue and writing partial scenes in a separate document. Somehow it all comes together. Of course, listening to the sound track from Last of the Mohicans doesn’t hurt.
5. What do you want readers to take away from reading Two Ways Home?
I want readers to experience Jesus in all my stories. In Two Ways Home, I’m hoping readers will gain courage to face whatever is keeping them from experiencing that deep sense of home that can be found in the Lord. Luke had to learn to hold on, but Mary had to let go. We can come home both ways, by learning to connect and find intimacy, but also by trusting that God is larger than our losses and that he holds us even as we let go of people and places in this world.
6. When you are not writing, what hobbies do you enjoy?
I’m grateful that the things I do for jobs are my passions: church ministry, music, and writing. I can’t imagine life without them. But there are some things I used to enjoy that I don’t feel like I have much time for, which is sad. Stargazing. Canning. Road trips. Playing the piano for fun (as in practicing Chopin). As a family we enjoy camping, playing backyard sports, and board games. We are also big readers of picture books and chapter books. My daughter has started horseback riding lessons, and I enjoy watching her. Oh, daydreaming is a big hobby of mine.
Check out the Character Spotlight with Luke from Two Ways Home HERE.
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