Behind The Book With Sara Ackerman

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Behind The Book With Sara Ackerman 

Last week I received a copy of USA Today Bestselling author Sara Ackerman’s latest release The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West & I finished reading it on February 11th! I am thrilled to be doing this edition of Behind The Book with Sara Ackerman on The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West !

Q: Sara would you like to talk about The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West for those who haven’t read it? 

A:The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West is an action packed dual-timeline novel featuring a ground-breaking female aviator and the young woman who uncovers her buried history decades later. This is my first non-WWII book, and I can’t wait for everyone to meet these two inspiring women!

The idea for this novel came about while I was leafing through an old book called The Saga of The Sandwich Islands. When I came upon a page on the 1927 Dole Air Race from Oakland to Hawaii, I was immediately intrigued. How had I never heard of this incredible story of courage and tragedy? Charles Lindbergh had just completed his famous Atlantic Crossing, which inspired James Dole, pineapple magnate, to offer up a large prize purse for first and second place. Aviators from around the country scrambled to take place. But since it was 1927, there were no female pilots in the race, only a female passenger named Mildred Doran, despite the fact that there were many capable female pilots out there at the time. Since I write fiction, I thought it would be fun to create a few of my own characters in a kind of what if scenario. Thus, Olivia West was born.

Q: The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West, had two dual timelines that went from 1927 to 1987 for the characters of Olivia & Wren. What made you choose to have Wren’s storyline take place in 1987 rather than today’s timeline?

A: I had to pick a year where Olivia West would have still been alive and old but not too old. And I loved the 80s! I was in college in 1987, so writing about that time period was right up my alley.

Q: In our Q&A in late 2023, you mentioned that your books come out a year apart and that The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West came out 18 months after the novel The Codebreakers Secret came out. Would you say that The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West took longer to write than your other books did?

A: No, it didn’t. When I asked for longer between books, it was because I knew I wanted to write another contemporary novel in between, and that novel became The Maui Effect (will be released on November 19, 2024). So, I knew I would need more time. I would have loved to have the extra time to relax and travel a bit, but that is not how it worked out. Olivia West took about the same amount of time as most of my books to write. 5-6 months for a first draft, and then many months of revision. 

Q: In your authors note you said Olivia, Wren, Heath & Felix were fictional characters while Mildred Doran was a real woman & The Dole Air Race was an actual event. Did you use bits of Mildred Doran to create Olivia West? 

A: Mildred was a passenger in the race, not a pilot, so I included her (Millie) in the novel as her own person. She was very different from Olivia West. The women I based Olivia West on were all pioneering aviators like Harriet Quimby, Beryl Markham, Bessie Coleman, and others.

Q: Without spoiling anything, which scenes were your favorite ones to write and why?

A: I think the parts where they are flying across the Pacific were some of my favorites. It was fascinating to put myself in that position and try to imagine what it was like, and all the feelings she must have felt. The writing was challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. Also, I always love writing the part where the storylines converge!

Q: What lessons do you hope readers takeaway after reading The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West? For me a lesson I learned was, to keep going after your dreams no matter what the odds are against you. 

A: Awesome! I really do want readers to know that if you want to do something badly enough, set your mind to it and go for it. Einstein said that imagination is the preview to life’s coming attractions, and I really love that idea. I have found this to be incredibly true in my own life. I just practice knowing with my whole being that something is going to happen, and it does. But it also means you have to do everything in your power to make it happen. That includes envisioning, learning, acting, practicing, persistence and having patience. It’s all about divine timing.

Q: If The Uncharted Flight Of Olivia West became a limited series or a movie, who would you cast to play Olivia, Felix, Heath & Wren?

A: Oh boy, this is a tough one! How about:

Olivia West – Elle Fanning

Felix – Miles Teller

Heath – Callum Turner

Wren – I’m not sure. Someone who is a little bit Hawaiian would be nice.