By Laia Feliu.
We are very happy to welcome Sandy Barker to The Reading Corner to discuss her upcoming romance book “A Wedding in Tuscany“, out June 17th 2022.
The Parsons sisters are all loved up.
Sarah is living in Sydney with Josh and their cat, Domino, but is anxious about her fast-approaching fortieth birthday.
And Cat is still living in London with her flatmate, Jane, but is in a long-distance relationship with Jean-Luc, her childhood sweetheart and recently re-discovered love.
One of the sisters receives a surprise wedding proposal – it’s a yes! – and everyone heads off to Tuscany for a destination wedding.
Reunite with favourite characters from the Holiday Romance series in one of the most beautiful locations yet for love, laughter, wedding vows, and just a smidge of sisterly mayhem.
Hi Sandy! Firstly, thank you so much for your time. I absolutely loved “A Wedding In Tuscany”. I often felt as though I was in Italy myself, and had to add a few new places to my bucket list after your beautiful descriptions.
“A Wedding in Tuscany” is a very different type of Rom-Com to what many people might be used to, revolving around two sisters and their partners, rather than an old-school boy-meets-girl story. Where did the inspiration come from?
When I started writing Santorini, book one in the Holiday Romance series, I always knew it would be a series. Originally, this book was going to be set in France – and my partner and I were going to travel there in 2020 – but when those plans went awry, I decided on Tuscany. It’s a place I’ve been to many times and LOVE, so it was an easy choice for somewhere I could write with the level of detail I strive for in my books. As for the story, I wanted to write the sisters together. We get Sarah’s story over Santorini and Sydney, and Cat’s in Paris (as well as Jaelee’s story in Bali – she was a supporting character in Paris) so why not bring them all back together for a finale. And of course, it can’t all be smooth sailing or it would put my readers to sleep, so lots of mayhem and quite a lot of Cat and Sarah getting in their own way, which the Parsons sisters are prone to do.
This is the 5th book in the series, and you’ve been writing about Cat and Sarah and their friends for a very long time. Are you sad to say goodbye or ready to move on to new adventures?
SO SAD! I love these characters, especially after spending thousands of hours with them over the past 4 years. I am already thinking about a one-off Christmas reunion somewhere down the track.
Your book includes a lot of topics that I am sure our readers will relate to, the fear of ageing, the difficulties of relationships and that amazing sister love. Have you drawn from your own experiences to create such relatable and heartfelt characters?
First, thank you – those are all themes I am to explore authentically and, absolutely I draw from experience. It’s not that I’ve had those exact troubles but I have always been drawn to people and their stories – their struggles and triumphs – aiming to understand them so I can be of support. I definitely draw from those vicarious experiences as well as my own – and I am a bit older than my characters so have lived through a lot of what they are going through.
One of the most moving moments in “A Wedding in Tuscany” was Sarah’s decision to go to Africa and teach at Auntie Tessa’s school. Have you considered writing about her adventures in Africa?
Aunt Tessa in this story is based on a real-life family friend called Tessa, who also died very young (40ish) from cancer. In real-life, I only spent time with her during one visit to Australia but she had a huge impact on me. She was larger than life and gutsy and warm and generous. I haven’t thought of writing her as a main character – till now. So, thank you.
All the characters in your books have amazing personalities and it’s hard not to love every single one of them. Who was the funniest or most interesting character to write about for you?
I share the most traits with Sarah, so love writing her heart and mind, but the ones that make me laugh out loud – as I’m writing, editing and reading back over the book – are Sarah and Cat’s parents, Karen and Ron. They have such a great yin-and-yang relationship and while Ron is deliberately funny, always trying to buoy every up, Karen … well, she’s hilarious but most of the time it’s not on purpose. The life drawing scene! Bahahaha.
I often wonder what happens after I finish a book I really enjoyed, what do you think the future holds in store for Sarah and Josh and Cat and Jean-Luc?
Without giving too much away – no spoilers! – I think I leave them both in a place where they’re happy and secure in who they are and surrounded by love. I would hope they’d continue to be adventurous – not just climbing mountains and such – but living life to the fullest.
What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
I hope they will see a little of themselves, or someone they know, in the inner turmoil that each of the sisters experiences. And, that we often create more internal drama than we need to – that it doesn’t serve us to choose such a difficult path when life can already be tough just from external factors alone.
I also hope they will love the armchair travel, laugh out loud at some of the antics, and feel like they’ve spent time with old friends.
Are there any books within the genre or with similar messages to “A Wedding in Tuscany” you could recommend?
I absolutely LOVE two series by Lindsey Kelk – her ‘I Heart’ series with fish-out-of-water Angela, and the ‘Girl’ series with the affable but misguided Tess. If you haven’t read those series, you’re in for a treat because you have 11 books to look forward to.
For (even) more travel and friendship. Kim Nash’s Sunshine and Second Chances is lovely. Emily Henry’s books have both humour and heft, Julie Houston’s An Off-piste Christmas can be read as a standalone and made both laugh and cry. And on my TBR list is Shipped by Angie Hockman.
And last but not least, where can everyone get their hands on this incredibly story?
It will be published as an ebook on June 17 (all ebook platforms) and in print on August 18 from online and brick-and-mortar bookstores. For direct links, please check the book’s page my website.
Thank you so much for having me and happy reading, everyone!
Sandy is a writer and a traveller with a lengthy bucket list and a cheeky sense of humour. When she travels, she loves exploring new places, outdoor adventures, and eating and drinking like a local. She is also an avid reader, an amateur film buff, a wine lover, and a coffee snob, though her writing is mostly fuelled by copious mugs of strong, milky tea (no sugar). As well as blogging about travel, life, writing, reading and (sometimes) serious stuff, she is an author of romantic fiction.
Sandy’s Instagram: @sandybarkerauthor
Sandy’s Website: https://sandybarker.com/
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