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Author Interview,  Giveaway,  Hope-filled Fiction

Sarah Hamaker: True Events, Cats, Critiques, a Giveaway & More

I’m excited for you to hear from Romantic Suspense author Sarah Hamaker this week as she shares about her writing and her latest book, Vanished Without a Trace. She’s graciously offered TWO print copies as giveaways (US residents only) so be sure to comment on this post by July 19 for a chance to win!

Welcome, Sarah! I’m glad to have you on the blog this week. Let’s jump in with how and when you started writing. 

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. In fact, I still have a binder with my short stories and half-finished novels! I continued to write as a young professional but didn’t get serious about finishing a novel until after I was married and had four kids. I’d heard of National Novel Writing Month and decided to give it a try, completing my first 50,000 word novel in 2009. I regularly “competed” in NaNoWriMo for several years. At least four of my current books started out life because of NaNoWriMo.

Cool! Both of my completed manuscripts were also written during NaNoWriMo. What genre do you write and what inspired you to write that particular genre? 

I write romantic suspense because I enjoy writing about heroes and heroines who fall in love while running for their lives (or trying to avoid getting killed). I love the tension between what’s happening and their attraction to one another. 

I’m a romantic suspense fan too. Are any of your stories inspired by true events or personal history? 

Two of my books so far have their roots in true events. My first romantic suspense, Dangerous Christmas Memories (Love Inspired Suspense) was based on a news article I read years ago about a celebrity couple who didn’t realize their Las Vegas wedding had actually been real. The husband’s lawyer discovered the marriage 20 years later when doing due diligence for the husband’s upcoming wedding. Needless to say, the couple quickly obtained a divorce, but the scenario got me thinking about what if a wife didn’t remember getting married? 

Illusion of Love is based on a true story that happened to a friend of mine who had been seeing someone online. I won’t give away what happened, but I remember thinking I should write the story with some parts fictionalized because no one would believe it really happened!

I love stories based on true events! Do you have any pets? Do they find their way into any of your stories? 

Yes! I have three cats, and while I haven’t incorporated them yet into one of my stories, I have used previous cats in my stories, specifically one called Goliath who was a very friendly mix of Siamese, Himalayan and Lynx with six toes on both his front paws. He lived to be 20 and I enjoyed putting him into The Dark Atonement, book two in my Cold War Legacy series, which will be out this fall.

Fun! What advice would you give an aspiring author? 

Write, then keep writing. Make yourself finish your current work in progress before you start editing. You want to know the biggest difference between writers and those who want to write? The writers write regularly and finish their stories. I’ve recently become a certified writers coach through AWSA and love encouraging writers to press on even when the going gets tough. If God calls us to write, we need to write.

Good advice. How did you select the names for your characters? 

A baby name book and old phone books. I use the baby name book for first names and have a few old phone books for last names. If I need a specific ethnic last name, I’ll Google it, but I love looking in the phone books for last names to pair with my first names.

I haven’t thought about phone books in ages. LOL What do you hope your readers take away from Vanished Without a Trace? 

Hope and a sense of how God works in our lives. I try to infuse every book with hope and a realistic view of Christians through my characters.

Love that! I’m all about hope. How many unpublished and unfinished manuscripts do you have? Any plans to pursue publication for any of them? 

Do I have to count them? Probably a half dozen or so at least. Most I will leave unpublished—they are truly “practice” novels, LOL. One or two I might rewrite one day and indie publish but right now, that’s low on my agenda.

Do you have critique partners or a critique group? What are the pros and cons of participating in such a group? 

I love my critique groups (I’m in two). I’ve been with both groups (one has three members and one has five) for years, and I know I’ve grown as a writer because of their feedback. 

The pros include having other writers sharpen your writing, and having a safe place to both vent about things that happen with your writing and to receive constructive criticism from writers who get your writing—and who have your best interest at heart. With my current groups, there really are no cons, but I’ve had to leave critique groups when the balance of newbie writers to veteran writers gets out of whack—I left because I was spending too much time critiquing and not receiving the feedback I needed to improve my own writing. 

You should make sure your critique groups aren’t saying how wonderful your writing is but are pointing out the holes in your storyline or what made them stumble when reading.

Makes sense. What’s next from you? 

I’m working on books two and three in my Cold War Legacy series, which I’ll indie publish book two in mid-September and book three early in 2023. Then I have an idea for a trade length series I’ll start writing. I always have ideas for books floating around in my head, so it’s a matter of which one I’ll grab onto for the next book.

Thanks so much for sharing on the blog this week, Sarah! I wish you the best as you continue writing stories that point readers to hope in Christ.

Join the conversation. What do you love about reading Romantic Suspense? Do you enjoy stories based on true events? What about those that incorporate pets or animals? Do you have any questions for Sarah?

Be sue to comment by July 19 for a chance to win a paperback of Sarah’s book! Keep scrolling to find the comments section.

Vanished Without a Trace book cover

Vanished Without a Trace by Sarah Hamaker

Click the book cover for purchase link

 A missing person case. A new clue. And a fight for survival.

 After nine years searching for his missing sister, attorney Henderson Parker uncovers a clue that leads him to Twin Oaks, Virginia—and podcaster Elle Updike investigating the case. Partnering with the journalist is the last thing Henderson wants, until mysterious thugs make multiple attacks on both their lives. Now they’ll have to trust each other…before the suspected kidnappers make them disappear for good.

Author Head shop

Sarah Hamaker loves writing books “where the hero and heroine fall in love while running for their lives.” She’s written romantic suspense novels and nonfiction books, as well as stories in Chicken Soup for the Soulvolumes. As a writers coach, her heart is encouraging writers. She’s a member of AWSA; Christian Authors Network; ACFW; ACFW Virginia Chapter; and Faith, Hope and Love, as well as the president of Capital Christian Writers Fellowship. Her podcast, “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” can be found wherever you listen to podcasts. Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband, four teenagers, a preschool foster child and three cats.

Connect with Sarah: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / BookBub / Goodreads / YouTube / Linkedin / Amazon Author Page

Please share Sarah’s interview on social media to help spread the word about her book.

If you missed last week’s spotlight with Dulcie Dameron find it here.

As a Jesus girl for more than thirty years, Deena Adams understands how important hope is to daily life, which fuels her passion to inspire others through hope-filled fiction based on true to life stories. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and is a multi-award-winning writer, an active ACFW member, and ACFW Virginia president. Connect with Deena through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  • Cherie J

    I love romantic because there usually so much excitement and tension. I also love stories that have pets in them. I believe that when the main character is involved with pets it helps make the main character seem more real.

  • Jeanne Crea

    What a lovely interview! I love romantic suspense for all the reasons you mentioned and I love it when I don’t figure it out until the very end. I do really enjoy dogs in stories. Thank you so much for the chance to win, this looks so good!

  • Lori Altebaumer

    Enjoyed the interview, Sarah! Especially the part about characters falling in love while running for their lives. This is my favorite genre. I mean, nothing says romance like the possibility of being murdered LOL!

  • Roxanne C.

    As a child, I loved mysteries, but as a teen I gravitated more towards romance. Romantic Suspense is a great genre that lets me enjoy both.

    Fun and/or funny scenes with pets and animals often make books more enjoyable.

    Vanished Without a Trace Is definitely on my TBR.

  • Lynn Moore

    Sarah……I do love suspense. At least when it comes to reading! Blessings to you as you share your gift of writing with us! 📚

  • Tammy

    Your description of why you write romantic suspense is the exact reason I enjoy reading them so much. Love a good page turner! Vanished Without A Trace sounds right up my alley. Great interview!

  • Lual Krautter

    I always love CF Romantic Suspense because of the storyline, drama, tension, and a strong thread of faith and prayers answered! Would love to win a print copy! Thanks for the opportunity to enter a giveaway! God bless!

    • Susann Greenwood

      Great interview with Sarah! I will admit that Illusion of Love really intrigues me, since as you know I met my husband online. I enjoy Christian romance stories and suspense makes them all the better!
      Thanks for sharing Deena!

    • Sarah Hamaker

      I think you would probably enjoy Illusion of Love…I can’t say without giving it away what parts were based on a true story–but you probably wouldn’t believe me if I did, it’s that strange.

    • Sarah Hamaker

      I stole the phone book idea from another author, and acquired several of them by posting on NextDoor. I got some from the 1980s from a woman cleaning out her parents’ house, which have been such fun to look through for names.

  • Deb Gorman

    “I write romantic suspense because I enjoy writing about heroes and heroines who fall in love while running for their lives (or trying to avoid getting killed).”

    Now THAT is a great description of romantic suspense by someone who clearly has a handle on the genre. “Vanished Without a Trace” sounds like a hummer of a story.

    Great interview (I always enjoy your interviews, Deena!), both of you.