by Sarah Sundin
For a novelist, I have an unusual background. I majored in chemistry and have a doctorate in pharmacy. But for a novelist, nothing is wasted. From my scientific training, I learned analysis and documentation, tools I use in historical research. And scientists like tight writing, which helps restrain my reader-girl love of big, flowery words. Somewhat. Also, working in health care exposed me to so many stories—hard stories, tragic stories, uplifting stories—and novels are always about the human condition. All those stories feed the creative well.
In The Sound of Light, I wrote about WWII Denmark. Baron Henrik Ahlefeldt assumes the identity of a common shipyard worker, rowing messages to Sweden for the Resistance. His life depends on keeping his secret hidden—a task that proves challenging when he meets Else Jensen, an American physicist who seems to see right through him.
For Else Jensen’s portion of this story, I reached back to my undergraduate years studying chemistry. Being in the laboratory with Else brought back some fond memories, but also brought back my recurring “I slept through my final exam!” nightmare, which involves my most-hated class—quantum mechanics. Else loves quantum mechanics. But she also gets to work with Niels Bohr, a Nobel Laureate whose name I knew well from my own studies—and a man who played a role in World War II history. My undergrad nerd self is thrilled that I got to write a story including Niels Bohr!
Henrik Ahlefeldt’s story wasn’t inspired by anything in my own life. He’s a baron and an Olympic rower. I am not. His story sprang from my research into World War II—which is a huge part of my life. When I read about a Danish Olympic rower who played a role in one of the most thrilling and inspiring rescue stories of World War II—well, I had to write a similar story!
In The Sound of Light, Henrik and Else are faced with difficult choices, whether or not to speak out or to act when confronted with injustice and danger. Henrik is naturally bold, but he chooses to make great personal sacrifices to carry out his missions. Else is naturally cautious and hates confrontation, but she learns to speak out and act when necessary.
I am definitely more like Else. Conflict makes me very uncomfortable. Walking with Else through the choices she makes to help others made me think through my own caution—and to remember to draw courage from the Lord.
A life verse for me works its way through this novel, even though it isn’t quoted: 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” Whatever we lack, whether it’s courage, or mercy, or self-discipline—God can supply it if we ask! Else and Henrik learn to tap into that supply in the novel, and I hope my readers can too.
At one point in the story, Henrik tells Else, “Sometimes silence takes much courage . . . and sometimes silence is nothing but cowardice.” I hope readers can evaluate their own lives and situations. When is it right to keep silent when all we want is to have our say? And when is it best to speak up even though we’d prefer not to make waves?
About the Author
Sarah Sundin is a bestselling author of World War II novels, including The Sound of Light. Her novel Until Leaves Fall in Paris received the 2022 Christy Award, When Twilight Breaks and The Land Beneath Us were Christy Award finalists and The Sky Above Us received the Carol Award. Sarah lives in California and serves as co-director of the West Coast Christian Writers Conference. http://www.sarahsundin.com.
About the Book
When the Germans march into Denmark, Baron Henrik Ahlefeldt exchanges his nobility for anonymity, assuming a new identity so he can secretly row messages for the Danish Resistance across the waters to Sweden. While printing resistance newspapers, American physicist Dr. Else Jensen hears stories of the legendary Havmand—the merman—and wonders if the mysterious and silent shipyard worker living in the same boardinghouse has something to hide.
Did You Know?
I learned the power of joy when I let go of a grudge and gave my bitterness to God. Even though my circumstances didn’t change, my joy returned and my life took a turn for the better. The power of joy can also:
Strengthen Us. Nehemiah, a Jewish nobleman, and his men rebuilt the broken wall around Jerusalem in 52 days. Nehemiah declared the source of his strength was the joy of the Lord. (See Nehemiah 8:10). That was a miracle, and now health experts confirm that joy makes us stronger.
Give Us Breakthrough. When Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison, they did not complain but sang praises to God. God responded by sending an earthquake that broke their chains and sprung their prison doors. But instead of breaking out of jail, Paul and Silas broke through, rescuing their jailer from death and leading both the man and his family to salvation in Jesus.
Build Our Faith. George Müller, an English orphanage director in the 1800s, daily pursued God’s joy, which in turn helped strengthen his faith. He was able to trust God to provide for the 10,000 orphans in his care. Müller demonstrated how joy can empower us to endure trials, so that our faith will be steadfast, resulting in miraculous provision (See James 1:2-4).
If you need the power of joy in your life, study Scriptures about joy and experience their power through prayer.
-Linda Evans Shepherd, Make Time for Joy
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“Shopping in bookstores is therapeutic for me. The process of leisurely browsing drives stress away and brings joy to my heart. It is a time during which I regroup and regenerate. Shopping at a bookstore often brings me a special bonus: When I come upon a book by an author I know personally, I experience delight beyond words and pray a blessing over her book. I leave refreshed, encouraged and ready to return to my own writing.”
-Mary Ann Diorio