I am thrilled to be bringing you an interview with romance author Sandy Barker. Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover, and a coffee snob. Sandy is also a wonderful supporter of the writing community. She lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins. The Christmas Swap, Sandy’s fourth novel is a stand-alone and celebrates her favourite time of year. Coming soon are a stand-alone romcom set in the world of reality television, the next book in the Holiday Romance series, and another Christmas story!
Tell me about yourself
I am a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, as well as an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob (#Melbourne). I have a very cheeky sense of humour that sometimes gets me out of trouble but usually gets me into it. I blame genetics – both of my grandmothers were hilarious (one of them on purpose).
How long have you been writing?
Seriously – about 7 years now. That’s when I wrote the first draft of what is now One Summer in Santorini, my debut novel. I have been under contract with HarperCollins for two-and-a-half years.
What do you love about writing romance?
Romance is about the heart. I love exploring the nooks and crannies of ‘love’ and what it means and how it is expressed. And I like mending broken hearts on the page. That happy for now or happily ever after – that is the stuff of dreams.
You write travel romances. What is one of your favourite destinations?
I LOVE Greece. It is an exquisite part of the world – partly for the natural beauty and the history, but mostly because of the culture. Greek people really know what is important in life. Every time I step on Greek soil, I feel like my soul is exhaling.
What do you believe a reader wants in a good romance?
Truth. That my explorations of the heart will ring true for readers, that they make sense for the characters I create and the situations that I put them in. Characters can be a mass of contradictions – just like real people – but their emotions and motivations and objectives must ring true.
Have any of your stories been inspired by real life experience?
Yes! All my stories are based in locations I have spent time in and a lot of the vignettes are borrowed from my own travel adventures. I also met my real-life partner on a pier in Santorini just as we were about to embark on a ten-day sailing trip, which is the premise of One Summer in Santorini. I wrote that book partly as a love letter to him (though in real life, it wasn’t a love triangle 😉).
You have a new release coming in September titled ‘The Dating Game’ what can you tell me about it?
Abby Jones is a recapper for a British online magazine that specialises in clickbait, selling a piece of her soul with every recap. When the piece about the season premiere of The Stag goes viral, the producers invite her onto the next season of the show, undercover as a Doe so her recaps will be particularly juicy.
She really doesn’t want to but there are two things that may change her mind: it’s filming in Sydney and the producer is a (very) cute guy called Jack.
Most of the book takes place during the filming of The Stag in Sydney – so much fun to write!
Can you tell me about your writing process?
If I’m in writing mode, I will typically read back over what I wrote the day before or the last time I wrote. I will tweak as I read, which helps me when it comes to editing (I am future proofing my draft), but it also helps me get back into the cadence of the story. I will then aim to write the next scene. A scene can be a full chapter, or part of a chapter, but it is a complete section – a place where the reader could put down the book at a natural stopping point.
If I’m conducting a structural edit, I just slog through in chronological order, referring back to the editorial notes I have received. A copy edit is a lighter edit and comes next, usually highlighting overused words, adding missing words, or suggesting different syntax. I will work through that edit systematically too, referring to my author style guide.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Over-used words or phrases. I plagiarise myself all the time! I have a list that I check during my editorial pass, so I can rectify that. And naming characters – argh! So hard sometimes.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I love owls – possibly because I am a little obsessed with Greek mythology and admire Athena, and her animal is the owl. I love what they symbolise.
What advice would you give a new author?
Get the words down. Tell your story. You can always edit it later, apply the feedback, shape it, enhance it, but you cannot edit an empty page. My favourite quote is by Goethe: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." Begin it!
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Travel! But in lieu of that, reading, watching great series or films across an array of genres. When we’re allowed, throwing dinner parties for close friends, and (also when possible) wine tasting at the cellar door – divine!
Thank you to Sandy for sharing with us. I will have to say that us 'Sydney Siders' can most certainly rival Melbourne when it come to being coffee snobs ;) Greece has always been at the top of my travel bucket list, and I am yet to go. I will need to read 'One Summer In Santorini', and live vicariously through the protagonist for now :)
I have pre-ordered my copy of The Dating Game. If you would like to check out Sandy's books, click on the links below.