Welcome, today we are talking with Sara Harris! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions. First, let’s delve into who you are. Some of the questions may be untraditional but you’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can.
Can you share a little something about Sara Harris that’s not mentioned in your bio on your website?
I am a three-time cancer contender. I refuse to say survivor, because once you’ve had cancer once, it is never, ever far from your mind and though you may knock it out for a round, you’re never truly out of that ring. Actually, we moved from our hometown of Odessa, Texas out to Houston to be closer to my amazing surgeon – who is credited with keeping me on this earth by her skilled scalpel and hand.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
I have always known that I wanted to be a writer. I especially knew this when I was in about 3rd grade and could articulate myself better on the page than in person.
How long have you been writing?
That’s also about how long I’ve been writing. My short story about my tomcat won first place in a contest and it was a cathartic thing for me. When I was a senior in high school at Permian High School (yup, the Friday Night Lights school), I wrote a short story in response to a call for submissions for the Mojo Mystique, our school literary journal. It was about an American POW in a tiger cage in Vietnam during the war. The title was Dai Do and was based on the battle of the same name, in honor of my Uncle Kent Smith, who spent time in Vietnam during the war as a Marine – a Magnificent Bastard, to be most specific.
What have you found most challenging about it?
The most challenging aspect about writing lately has been all of the changes the writing world has undergone. Change is a constant with anything, but still. Writing is what I do and where I go to feel safe and make sense of the world. I don’t like when that changes.
What does writing do for you? Is it fun, cathartic, do you get emotional?
Writing helps me make sense of my world. To help me determine feelings, especially my own feelings, about things. Also, I LOVE to transport people to different places in time . . . in history actually . . . and to make them feel feelings that are strong and scary, to make them experience life in another time. Yeah, I’d say it’s pretty emotional.
Describe what your writing routine looks like. Are you disciplined with a strict schedule or do you have to be in the mood?
I do not do well with routine, and I never really have. I am not disciplined at all and am very much a pantser when it comes to both plotting and writing. I really have to be seduced by the muse in order to transform copious amounts of caffeine into words on a page.
Did you go into writing thinking that it would be a hobby or a job?
I never thought I would get paid for writing, much less have it as a job. However, I do it as a way to keep sane, really.
What inspires you?
History inspires me. People in history are my heroes and I want to really do them justice in my work, because they lived through some unimaginable times. The cool thing is, maybe someone will think that about all of us who survive 2020 someday!
Let’s move on and give readers some insight into your personal life.
What is your favorite:
- Animal – I love them all. We have two adopted dogs from Italy, one from west Texas, one from Houston, and a crazy Oklahoma tomcat who rules them all. However, I’d say my favorite animal is whichever one I happen to be around at the moment. Dolphins and sharks are cool and they both usually come out to play whenever I take a trip to the ocean with my family. However, I’m most firmly rooted with St. Francis of Assisi . . . all animals all God’s creatures.
- Food – My favorite food . . . yum! I’m a mostly-vegan, but I cannot stand salads! Mediterranean food is my all-time favorite, with Japanese hibachi a close, photo-finish second. Mexican comes in third . . . and whatever I’m eating, I need lots and lots of delicious sauce on the side!
- Movie – Braveheart. According to ancestry.com, I have family that fought on both sides of the Battle of Stirling, and that brings a whole separate level of coolness to the movie. Alba gu Brath! Titanic, Lonesome Dove, Pearl Harbor . . . I love epics. Probably my most favorite movies of all . . . Across the Great Divide and The Wilderness Family series with Robert F. Logan. (Fun fact . . . my son Logan is named for him!) Indiana Jones – all of them, but especially Temple of Doom.
- TV show – My sweet husband and I have been binging lots of good shows lately. ER will ALWAYS be my favorite TV show, but Call the Midwife has a very special place in my heart. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Little House on the Prairie are there for the win, too!
- Singer – I’m a closet Jonas Brothers fan, totally love Shakira, and try to sound like Stevie Nicks, but can equally rock out to anything from the Anderson Sisters to Bing Crosby, to 50’s and 60’s and 70’s and 80’s easy listening rock, to 80’s glam metal . . . (I actually have my favorite guitarist’s guitar, Big Red, tattooed on my shoulder blade . . .) to Craig Chaquico, Bill Miller, and Sharon Burch. However, Bruce Springsteen kind of reigns supreme because of my folks’ raising me right.
- Author –I have a million different favorite authors. I cannot get enough of Ann Swann’s work, and since she is my mama, I don’t have to wait! I also love Francine Rivers, Stephenie Meyer, Stephen King (but not his scary scary stuff), Larry McMurtry, and Jeff Kinney- because with his Dork Diaries series, he showed my dyslexic baby Dawson how to love reading (when the words stay still on the page!)
What are your pet peeves?
I’ll quote Woodrow Call from Lonesome Dove here. “I hate rude behavior in a man. Won’t tolerate it.”
Who is your hero?
My 13 year old son with Asperger’s who rocks every day and always sees the bright side, the best in people, and really embodies all the traits and bravery I wish I had.
My beautiful 15 year old daughter, who I am her biggest fan, and she is my right-hand-gal. She is who made me a mommy and taught me what love truly was, and also, what fear truly was. She also showed me another version of myself I never knew I could be – someone fierce and brave. All within minutes of her birth. Yeah, she stole my heart then, too.
My 11 and 9 year old sons with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia who remind me so much of Chip and Dale, the little cartoon chipmunks, and take the goofiness and the party wherever they go!
My 8 year old son who doesn’t let his ADHD hold him back, and tries really, really hard to do what he is supposed to (like sit still and write a sentence or work a math problem), even when he really wants to run up the walls and backflip off like a ninja.
My precious husband, who doesn’t give up on me, loves me especially when I’m at my worst, who never asks why (UNLIKE ME) and who always brings his trademark humor, even to the bleakest situation.
My folks, who model everyday what a true, loving relationship looks like and are the epitome of selfless, unconditional love.
My students, from when I was still teaching Special Ed in the classrooms of Texas and Oklahoma – because they are awesome. Simple as that.
All the people of history. Every. Last. One.
Give us one thing on your bucket list.
I try not to have a great long list of things to accomplish, because I struggle with self-doubt enough already. Instead, I try to make each day count as though it were my last.
Did my babies feel loved and special, especially if they had a rough patch during their day? If so, I was successful that day.
Did I cuddle each of my dogs, since they are all getting up there into the 12 and 13 year mark, it’s time to make sure they know how much I love and cherish them. If so, I did my duty.
Did I tell my husband thank you and remind him how special he is to me, for handing me that cup of coffee without me asking, or for airing my tire without telling me, or for suggesting a dinner out on the days when the tiredness wins out? If so, I am winning at life.
Did I make people around me feel special when I’m grocery shopping at Wal-Mart or H-E-B? If so, I’ve been a blessing to someone.
I’ve lived in Italy, Alaska, and Texas just to name a few places I’ve hung my hat . . . learned to pilot airplanes, caught and relocated snakes and tracked mountain lions . . . driven through a hurricane, pulled a lady out of her car during the deluge as her car was being swept away, driven through two tornadoes and survived a near plane crash . . . given birth to four beautiful babies and a plethora of adventure-filled books . . . rescued animals and stood up for what was right when everyone around me was sitting down. And I still feel the best is yet to come.
What would readers find surprising about you?
I moved from teaching special education and almost having completed my Masters in Special Education – Autism to fulfilling my lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. Come December 2022, I’ll have RN, BSN after my name!
If you could go to heaven, who would you visit?
Sooooooo many people. So many hugs to give and faces to see again. However, right now, I would love to visit with my favorite Saint . . . Irena Sendler. She saved 2,500 children from the death camps that waiting at the other end of the train tracks from the Warsaw Ghetto where they were being imprisoned during Holocaust. I would want to visit her.
Any bad habits?
Yup. A few. Fingernail chewing being one.
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
Every day is a comedy around here, which is why life is so good. However, once I was driving to a book signing where my debut novel, A Heart on Hold, was being featured. I had just purchased my dream car . . . a lifted soft top Jeep Wrangler on monster truck tires . . . and had no idea of my gas mileage. When it became apparent that we weren’t going to make it to the next town, I had to barter gasoline for signed books in a one-horse-town with a man who did not speak English and there was not a credit card reader anywhere to be had.
Now that our readers know who Sara Harris is let’s get down to the business of your book, Katie’s Plain Regret. How long did it take you from beginning to end before your novel was completely finished, and how did you decide on the topic and title?
Three days. I had the flu and didn’t move from my chair in front of the fireplace and it took me three days to finish this book completely.
Please tell us a little bit about, Katie’s Plain Regret.
This book features characters from Rebekah’s Quilt – but is told from the POV of Rebekah’s saucy nemesis that we all love to hate (or hate to love), Katie Knepp. She made so much trouble during Rebekah’s Quilt, she earned herself her own series . . . the Amish Journeys series.
Katie tends to be emotionally driven and not logically driven, not unlike myself, and that being said, the not-so-plain Amish girl gets herself into all kinds of western, gunslinging, rabid, epidemic drama.
What was your hardest challenge writing this book?
Staying awake was my hardest part because I was battling the flu.
What kind of research did you have to do?
I researched EVERYTHING, like I always do. The places are real, the settlement journey is real. Even the names and dates are real . . . as are all the people who make cameos. Like Clay Allison, Quanah Parker, and Bull Price . . . have you not heard of Bull Price? He’s my grandfather – and a John Wayne-ish legend in his own right.
What in your opinion makes good chemistry between your leading characters?
Adversity!! Adversity always makes for good drama.
Any other works in progress?
YES. Tons. Most are historical, one rom-com, some nonfiction, some Catholic and Saint centered. Some medical romances. LOTS of pieces fill my desktop!
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t quit. Find me on social media and don’t let me quit either, because it’s really easy to get bogged down and jaded.
Check out Katie’s Plain Regret. Check out Rebekah’s Quilt, too. The second book in Rebekah’s series releases December 31!
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