Sarah is the author of the novels, The Baker’s Daughter and The Time It Snowed In Puerto Rico. She has taught at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. The daughter of an army officer, her family was stationed in Germany during her childhood. She currently lives with her husband and dog, Gilbert, in El Paso, Texas, where she is working on her third novel. You can find out more about Sarah on her website, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.
Her second novel, The Baker’s Daughter, has just been released from Crown. Take a taste of some of the rave reviews:
“A beautiful, heart-breaking gem of a novel written just the way I like them, with the past coming back to haunt the present, endearing heroines and a sunny, hopeful ending. You’ll wolf it up in one delicious gulp.”
–Tatiana de Rosnay, international bestselling author of Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept
“The Baker’s Daughter was a constant warm companion to me during cross-country travels, a novel I looked forward to returning to night after night. The rare book in which the modern-day story is as compelling as the wartime tale it contains, The Baker’s Daughter offers a look at Nazi Germany through the lens of the immigration issues of our own time. El Paso, TX and Garmisch, Germany make for an unexpected harmony of flavors.”
– Jenna Blum, international bestselling author of The Stormchasers and Those Who Save Us
“A sensitive, multilayered novel, this is a moving examination of the effect war and the politics of exclusion, have on the human heart.”
–Amanda Hodgkinson, New York Times bestselling author of 22 Brittania Road
And here’s more about The Baker’s Daughter: In 1945, Elsie Schmidt was a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she was for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger.
Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines can often be blurred.
Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.
Not only has Sarah agreed to take our Deb Interview, but she’s even answered a BONUS question! So without further ado…
1. Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
My favorite childhood fictional character is Anne Shirley from L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I was completely smitten with her from the first page. She was my literary kindred. Like Anne, I had auburn hair when I was a babe and something of a fiery temper to boot. My dad was in the Army throughout my childhood so I moved a lot and often felt like an orphan in spirit. Sure, I had my family with me, but I was always saying goodbye to friends and places. I vividly remember thinking Anne’s window friend Katie Morris was a brilliant idea, but then I also understood that window people were make-believe. So I settled for Anne. Literary characters are much more realistic, you know. I don’t have any sisters either so I completely empathized with Anne’s search for a bosom friend. And similar to Anne, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.
2. What time of day do you love best?
Anytime after noon. Not one atom in my body is a morning person. It repels the dawn in the form of a wicked headache. Yes, perhaps that’s my caffeine addiction more than the sunlight, but the morning takes the blame.
Living in El Paso, I’ve come to adore sunset. Whatever time that falls. My writing office has a window looking out to the Franklin Mountains directly east. So when the sun sets in the west, behind my house, it butters the mountains a magnificent golden red. The contrast between the rock and the night sky is stark and breathtaking. No matter how busy I am, I stop to stare. It only lasts a minute or two before the sun falls away. It reminds me to lift my head and breathe. It reminds me that no matter what’s going on today, tomorrow the sun and sky and mountains will be there, performing the same wondrous spectacle.
3. Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.
I have superhuman olfactory powers. At least that’s what my husband tells me. I can smell things he swears no other human being on earth would typically be able to smell: a burning electrical wire in some hidden wall crook; lavender miles away; bad breath across a room; the flavor of someone’s fruit gum in a crowded subway; a barbecue three cul-de-sacs down; mouthwash hours after it’s been swished and spit; a single burnt hair in the blow-dryer; baked muffins from days earlier; and the list goes on. My husband finds this sniffing power somewhat maddening. I suppose you can only hear, “What’s that smell?” so many times before it nettles the brain.
4. Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.
An Irish, Scottish, Aussie, or English accent. My husband does them all to perfection and I titter like a schoolgirl every time. He could be cursing me to high heaven or reading the Yellow Pages, it wouldn’t matter; I’d laugh. I have a latent crush on the entire British Isles population. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, all my husband need do is say something—anything—in one of those accents, and I’m a gonner. Maybe it’s the Mc in me. Ay, lassie, ‘tis possible.
5. If you were an animal, which animal would you be, and why?
I’m going to share something now that only my mom and my unlucky freshman-year college poetry class have ever heard. We were asked this very question and instructed to write our answer in poem form, which we then read in front of the class. I was eighteen at the time, so I have no idea what I might’ve been imbibing the night before completing this assignment. (Too much Volt Cola is what I’m implying. Ahem.) Nonetheless, my mom still brings it up for a good laugh. I only share it because I know it’ll stay between us and our sister debs
I am a Skunk by Sarah McCoy
I am a skunk
Yes, a skunk indeed
One of the highest skunk breeding, if you please
I, unlike most,
Have much room to boast:
I spend days amongst the flowers of life
Living and breathing with hardly a strife.
I can be sweet and kind as a new baby kitten.
I fall in love and even find myself smitten.
And like my dear Uncle Sir Pepe Lepeu,
Some say I’m constant and loveable too.
I am patient when the time calls to contend,
But don’t confuse me with Bambie’s best friend.
I am my own persona, independent, it’s true,
And the stripe down my back might give you a clue.
But don’t mistake it with a cowardice mark
I am fearless, the courage of the strongest of heart.
The secret I keep gives no need to fear,
Unless you have made some inappropriate smear.
Or battled my temper or tested my hate.
Or trampled my breeding or lessened my faith.
Or played with my fears or made some remark
Of simple vulgarity and thus lit the spark.
For then I’d unleash the powers within
And move without thinking in one simple spin.
In moments to your unsuspecting dismay
I’d release the pressure and markedly… spray
A regiment of opinions and viewpoints alike,
But only on those who are looking to fight.
My appearance is kitten-like, as sweet as a cat,
But don’t confuse me, I am always mismatched.
The difference is simple and quite easy to catch.
I am a skunk.
So remember that.
(Now, if someone read that with a cockney accent, I might just laugh myself to a heart attack.)
Bonus Question! 6. What’s your next big thing? (new book, new project, etc.)
The Baker’s Daughter is my current “big thing.” Each book is like having a baby. It requires your undivided attention, and she’ll have it for as long as she wants. Meanwhile, I’m a couple hundred pages into writing my third novel. It’s completely different from my first two novels. The story unfolds through the alternating perspectives of a husband and wife. It’s a story about parenthood—about the definitions of mother and father. I like to challenge myself in each novel. I never want to write the same plot, characters, or narrative structure twice. For me, writing books is a discovery of new worlds, and I love nothing better than putting on a Lewis-&-Clark hat and being an explorer of my fictional landscapes.
* * * *
Thank you so much for visiting us today, Sarah! And for yet another bonus, Sarah is offering to give away a copy of The Baker’s Daughter to one lucky commenter so let’s get chatting!