Meeting Author Sandy Barker has been one of my greatest joys of the past year. She’s a truly talented writer and a truly lovely person. I thoroughly enjoyed the original version of One Summer in Santorini, You Might Meet Someone, and I’m so thrilled for the opportunity she’s been given with Avon Books. I know you will love Sandy, and you’ll love One Summer in Santorini. It’s the story of how she and Ben met, and knowing that makes it all the more special.
- Your debut novel, One Summer in Santorini, is a re-imagining of your first self-published book, You Might Meet Someone. What are the major differences between the two?
I was really grateful for the opportunity to work with the editing team at Avon Books, especially as it had been more than eighteen months since I had worked on the book. The process made me scrutinise my own writing and correct instances where the manuscript was over-written, or where I had relied too heavily on repeated phrases or words. There were also some structural edits, particularly in chapter one, and I am (finally) happy with how the book starts. The characters and their journeys remain intact, but it is a better, pacier telling of their stories now. It was a true partnership with the editors, and an incredible process — it made me a better writer
- When did you start writing seriously?
I have always enjoyed writing and telling stories — even as a child — but when I was moving from Seattle back to Australia in 2013, I challenged myself to write a book. I got about 2/3 the way through and got some early feedback from a literary agent. He said, “It’s not your first book. There’s too much going on, too many characters, too many narratives. You’re not Liane Moriarty.” It stung, but I needed to hear it. He challenged me to go away and write a single, linear narrative. I did, and that book is One Summer in Santorini.
- What did you learn from being an independent author?
So much! The best thing about that time was becoming part of an online community of supportive and knowledgeable authors, who generously share their expertise and their time, and who lift each other up. From my fellow authors, I’ve learned writing craft, the business of publishing, and the avenues and importance of marketing. I use and develop this knowledge daily, and I share what I’ve learned. It’s an incredible community.
- What do you love most about being an author?
I tend to start with well-defined characters and a loose plot outline. What I love is the freedom this affords me —and my characters — to deviate from the plan. I am often surprised by where the story takes me. When I started One Summer in Santorini, I had no idea it would become a love triangle, but as soon as that plot point arose, I knew it was going to be a fun ride — both to write and to read.
- In One Summger in Santorini, one of the themes is how traveling can be transformative. Is this something you’ve found in real life?
Yes, absolutely. Whether it’s a lengthy trip where you’re always on the move, or a quiet long weekend away, traveling can give you a fresh perspective. Your senses become heightened, and you become more attuned to the little things that can bring great joy — the sun setting in a new city, the first bite of something tasty, waking up to the sound of unfamiliar birds chirping. It’s these details that act as reminders to be more appreciative when you get back home.
- In 2018, you and your partner, Ben, went on sabbatical. Tell me about that time.
It was a leap of faith, but once we made the decision in 2017 and started planning it, I knew it would be an incredible year. We left full-time work, put our household stuff in storage and started a year of living abroad. We lived in Bali, the US, England, and Portugal, with side trips to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Netherlands. We made lifelong friends and I wrote my second and third books, including the sequel to One Summer in Santorini. It was an incredible year and it highlighted what is important in life — spoiler: it’s not ‘stuff’.
- What are you working on now?
I am actually writing the fourth book in my travel romance series, which is set in Bali and Scotland — two very different locations, but both made such an impact on me, I wanted to write about them. This story is about taking a sabbatical in order to mend a broken heart, and I think readers will love feisty Jaelee from Miami and her deep-thinking love interest, Alistair from Edinburgh.
- What do you hope readers will take away from One Summer in Santorini?
I hope they will connect with Sarah as a woman who wants to be whole again. She’s endured a bad breakup and she wants to reconnect with the fabulous Sarah she once was – gregarious, funny, adventurous. I think we all go through periods where we forget how to laugh, how to be true to ourselves. And it is a fun and funny story set in a beautiful part of the world, so I hope readers will laugh and enjoy a vicarious visit to the Greek Islands.
If you haven’t stopped to order this book, you need to! You won’t regret it.
Until we read again…📚