For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Sarah Hamaker. Sarah is a romantic suspense author and host of The Romantic Side of Suspense podcast.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
I’m Sarah Hamaker, and I love to write stories where the hero and heroine fall in love while running for their lives. I’m also a freelance writer, a mom of four teenagers and a therapeutic foster parent (along with my husband). Oh, and we have three Siamese cats, two of which have no teeth (but can eat just fine).
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
When Violet Lundy isn’t cleaning rooms at Happy Hills Assisted Living Facility, she loves spending her free time with resident Rainer Kopecek. Hearing his stories of the dangerous life he led behind the Iron Curtain in East Berlin makes her own life seem more tolerable. But when Rainer is found dead and his room in disarray, Violet suspects foul play.
Dr. Henry Silverton lives among his books, teaching and writing about the Cold War. A letter about an East German traitor known only as “The Wolf” propels Henry out of academia and into Violet’s life. Together, they embark on a perilous quest to uncover the truth about Rainer’s death and the traitor’s identity.
Can Violet and Henry uncover the secrets of the past before one of them ends up as The Wolf’s next victim?
What made you choose 1980s East Berlin as your setting?
While the story is contemporary, the central mystery is set in 1980s East Berlin. Being a child of the 70s/80s, I’ve always been fascinated by the Cold War and East and West Berlin in particular. It’s really not that far into the past that something that happened then could still impact today.
What research was required to set a book in a different country, on a different continent, in a different historical time period?
I’ve read some books on the Cold War, and did a lot of online research, which was very helpful. It’s also been interesting to see how Russia has been back in the news again, reminding everyone of the Cold War. I also visited the International Spy Museum in Washington DC, which had an exhibit at the time on the Cold War and included some East German spyware. That really helped to get some of the details right in my book.
Did you need to, or have you, traveled to Berlin, German?
I wish! Google Maps was very helpful in figuring out where things were, and I was also able to use old maps to determine what was in East and what was in West Berlin.
How is East Berlin different in 1980 from current day Berlin?
Well, there’s no wall dividing the city, for one thing! From the photos I was able to see, I think you might be able to tell when you cross over from West to East Berlin by the architecture in some places. But since Berlin had been one city before World War II, coming “back” together probably erased some of the changes wrought by the division and Berlin Wall.
Did you include German in your story? How did you go about making it authentic?
I included some German and used Google Translator, along with a friend who knows German.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
I wish I could have included more of the spyware stuff but the story didn’t lend itself to that, so I had to leave a lot of that out.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Sarah, thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of The Dark Guest, where might they be able to do so?
It’s available on Amazon in print and ebook, as well as ebooks on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple.
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
You can sign up for my newsletter and find out more about me and my writing at sarahhahamakerfiction.com.
Over Sunday Dinner next week contemporary romance author Rachelle Paige Campbell will join us.