PODCAST SHOW NOTES
Love is in the air for episode 15...
Join hosts Veronica and Darren for a romance soaked interview with bestselling author Sandy Barker and be swept away to exotic lands ready to capture your heart! There's website and industry news including current writing competitions, some great quotes centred around passions of the heart, and best of all a captivating reading from One Summer In Santorini by Sandy to bring a smile to your ears...
What genre do you write in and what inspired you to write your books?
I write travel romcoms. I started out writing a series based on my own travel exploits, and occasionally borrowing anecdotes from other people (really, if you tell me a great story, it's fair game 😉).
Book 1 was also based on my real-life love story of meeting my partner on a pier in Santorini just as we were about to get on a sailing trip together. The story departs from reality on the arrival of a second love interest, but that got me started on the Holiday Romance series. For
Book 2 I drew from my time as a Contiki Tour Manager in Europe and based it on a coach tour, and Book 3 picks up the love story from Book 1. I also have a stand-alone Christmas book out - also a travel romcom. I've already written the next in the series and a new stand-alone set in the world of reality, with the show that's featured filmed in Sydney. Essentially, I want my characters to travel and to grow from the new perspective that travel brings.
Is there anything specifically Australian about your books?
Yes! The characters and some of the locations. I'm a proud Aussie and I love that we are so intrepid and that travelling is such a huge part of our culture. Many of us live overseas as well, so I have drawn on that aspect of Australian culture for my characters.
Sarah and Cat from the Holiday Romance series are Australian - Sarah lives in Sydney and travels voraciously and Cat lives in London. I also set a third of my Christmas book in Melbourne (with a whole supporting cast of Aussie characters and exploring what it's like to have Christmas in a hot climate), and as I mentioned one of my next books is set in Sydney. With settings, I aim to capture what is special about these Aussie locations - the natural beauty, the architecture, the culture, the people.
What was the last book I read?
I read all the time - ALL THE TIME - with a lot of my reading being books of fellow romance/contemporary women's fiction authors. The last book I read was Finding Home by Kate Field, who is also published by One More Chapter (an imprint of HarperCollins UK). It's a gorgeous story about the family ties you build when you join a community and let yourself be loved. I have now gone back to a couple of books (I usually read a few at a time, so I can pick up whatever I'm in the mood for at the time) - The Second Wife by Gill Paul, historical fiction about the love triangle between Jackie Kennedy, Maria Callas, and Aristotle Onassis - it's fantastic - and Christmas Island, by Natalie Normann, which is set in Norway. I love her succinct writing style - it is so immersive.
Where do you write?
In 2018, my partner and I went on sabbatical, living and working around the world - we lived in Bali, the US, the UK, and Portugal - and what I learned then was that I can write anywhere. In Bali, I wrote at the beach, at cafes, poolside on a sun lounger, and sometimes even at a desk! In the US, we'd take the pontoon out onto the lake, and I would write there. With being in Melbourne in 2020 and in lockdown for most of that, we transformed the guest room into my office and I now do most of my writing there. I have a standup desk (borrowed from work), a gorgeous view of the Yarra River, and loads of natural light. It's an inspirational spot to write from and I count my fortunes.
What words of advice do I have for an aspiring author?
You must write your story, Stop thinking about it and wishing for it to magically appear on the page. Sit (or stand) and write it. Make time.
This may sound like 'tough love' and it is - because it is exactly what I told myself before I finally sat down and wrote my first book. I realised that no one was going to knock on the door and ask, 'Does an aspiring novelist live here? I'd love to pay you to do nothing but write your book.' It was all on my to get the book written. You cannot edit an empty page.