Ep 340 Meet Sandy Barker, author of ‘That Night in Paris’ and ‘A Sunset in Sydney’.

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In Episode 340 of So You Want To Be A Writer: Meet Sandy Barker, author of That Night in Paris and A Sunset in Sydney. Discover the steps you need to take to build your author platform. Learn how to use Pinterest for book marketing inspiration. Plus, we have 3 copies of The Sandpit by Nicholas Shakespeare to give away.

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Show Notes

The Fire Star (A L Tait, Penguin) – Books and Publishing

Build Your Author Platform: 7 Manageable Ways to Start From Scratch

35 Authors Using Pinterest for Book Marketing & Inspiration

Writer in Residence

Sandy Barker

Sandy Barker is an Australian writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list and a cheeky sense of humour. Many of Sandy's travel adventures have found homes in her writing, including her debut novel, a contemporary romance set in Greece, which was inspired by her true-life love story.

In 2020, two follow-ups to One Summer in Santorini hit bookshelves: That Night in Paris in April and A Sunset in Sydney in July.

Follow Sandy on Twitter

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Interview Transcript

Valerie Khoo 

Sandy, this is a very exciting and busy time for you. Just not that long ago, That Night in Paris came out. And now your latest book is A Sunset in Sydney. You must be busy.

 

Sandy Barker 

I am busy actually. That was one of the things that was most surprising about becoming a published author is everything that goes into getting a book out. It's great when you get the publishing deal, you get very excited, of course, but it's like, “okay, so now we do this round of edits. And now we do this type of edit. And then we do this type of edit. Oh, and we're marketing for this book.”  So yeah, there's always kind of, I call it the spinning plates. There's always author work to do. But you know, I just love it. So not complaining at all.

 

Valerie Khoo 

So your first novel was One Summer in Santorini. And now the second and third have come out in quick succession. So I'd like to talk a bit about both of them. In case people haven't got their hands on a copy yet, first of all, let's talk about what is A Sunset in Sydney about?

 

 

So A Sunset in Sydney is actually the direct sequel to One Summer in Santorini. In the first book, we meet Sarah and she has taken herself off on holiday to Greece. She doesn't want to meet anybody, she doesn't… She's sworn off relationships and love. And as luck would have it, she actually meets two someones, as she calls them. And it's a bit of a slice of life. It's a travel romance set in Greece, obviously, the title gives that away. And then, it ends, the book ends where she's kind of she's finished the trip. But there's still questions about, you know, is she going to choose either of these people, is she going to choose to be single?

 

Sandy Barker 

And so a sunset and Sydney picks up her story. And we find out what Sarah's decision is around her life, not just her love life, but her life. So yeah, it's a direct continuation from One Summer in Santorini. So for all those people who were screaming for what happens next, this is what happens next.

 

Valerie Khoo 

Fantastic. So how about That Night in Paris? What is that about?

 

 

So that's actually, the main character of that book is called Cat and she is Sarah's sister. So she is also a person who's not really, she's, she's not a fan of love. And she has a bit of a mishap, well she's on the receiving end of requited love, and in her hometown of London, and she takes herself off on a bus trip around Europe just to kind of escape, as you do. And there is a night in Paris where she…

 

Valerie Khoo 

Like a good old Contiki tour.

 

Sandy Barker 

You know? Well, I did work for Contiki. I did work for Contiki as a tour manager. So I was able to draw from my experiences for the book. But yeah, she has this chance encounter in Paris, That Night in Paris, she has this encounter, and I'm not going to go into that too much. But it is part of the series, this holiday romance travel rom com series.  Yeah, so it's been fun to write about these two sisters. And what's great about writing a series is that the supporting characters in each of the books kind of lend themselves to their own stories. And I'll get emails or comments from readers that are, “Oh, I want to know about this character, what's going to happen to this character?” And so that can often spawn ideas for spin off books as part of the series.

 

Valerie Khoo 

And so I suspect you love traveling.

 

Sandy Barker 

Oh, I do. And look, we've, you know, the last few months, we know that people are going through a lot more hardship than we are. I think the only thing is I really wish I was traveling right now. I was supposed to be in the UK right now for a six week trip including a bit of a bit of a return to Edinburgh, but it was a research trip for the book that I'm writing now.  So yes, I absolutely, I just love travel. It fuels me. It just makes my heart sing. And I think that a lot of people, that really resonates with a lot of people. The transformative effect of travel. Even if it's just a long weekend away, it makes you appreciate home more when you get home. And you know, you see, do things that you would you wouldn't normally do in your everyday life. And it just kind of gives you a really fresh perspective on life and appreciation for what we do have. And you know, just expanding your horizons.  So yeah, I try to tap into that when I'm writing, because I think that that's a really great theme to explore is that transformative effect of travel. So yes, I'm missing it.

 

Valerie Khoo 

Yes, I bet. These books are out by HarperCollins. Now, when did you know that you wanted to be an author?

 

Sandy Barker 

Oh, I love that question. I think I started taking it seriously, probably about eight years ago now. And I wrote the first draft, kind of the first iteration of One Summer in Santorini, I started writing in 2013. So that was when I really made time every day to write and got serious about the craft and I was, you know, reading a lot about writing. And I think you need to read voraciously in your genre, to kind of really immerse yourself in, you know, all of the mechanics of it.  I was an English teacher years and years ago, but for about 14 years. And so there's a lot of the mechanics of English that is kind of intrinsic. But yeah, I was just kind of doing writing and reading a lot in the genre. And it was after I made the decision to self-publish my first book, because it was self-published before I got the publishing deal, that I was like, “Well, what, what's the other stuff? What's the other stuff that you don't necessarily know about with regards to being an author, and that's when on the Australian Writers Centre site, and I was like, oh, Build Your Author Platform, I was like, “Yes, I'm gonna do this course.” And I learned so much about all of the rest of, you know, the business of being an author and the self-marketing and everything else. So that was good, that actually fueled me. That made it, it really demystified kind of the whole business.  So when you say, when did I want to be an author? Creatively, I wanted to be an author for a long time, but it just seemed like a pipe dream until I kind of dug into, well, what does it actually mean? And, you know, having that social media presence, building a brand, being able to point to something when you're approaching publishers or agents to say, “Look, I've, you know, I've got this following here, I've got a small but passionate audience, I'd like to build that audience.” So it really actually made – doing that course – made it seem feasible. Like, I can do this, just by taking things step by step. And I thought that was really, really useful.  So from a creative perspective, about eight years ago, and really from a realistic perspective, about seven years, six or seven years. Yeah,

 

Valerie Khoo 

Right. And so, well, I'm so glad that the course, that you found the course useful. So tell me a bit about you said that your first book you self-published initially, tell me a bit about the journey from self-publishing to HarperCollins.

 

Sandy Barker 

Sure, sure. So I, when I had had this, you know, the first draft of the book, back in towards the end of 2013, I did actually sign with an Australian agent, and he wasn't able to sell the book over the course of the year we had the contract, and he was really passionate about it. But you know, we were getting comments like, “It reads like a travel biography” and “what is this travel fiction? it's not really a thing.” And it was a lot of the publishing houses weren't really investing time or energy in that particular niche genre.  So I, you know, put the book in a drawer and thought, Okay, well, that's the end of that. I tried; I got an agent. That's what you're supposed to do and it didn't happen. And after a trip back to Greece, back to Santorini and the other islands that are in the book, in 2016, I came back to the manuscript fresh, I just, you know, had another go at it, added about 5000 words and I thought, “Okay, I'm gonna do this.” And I went back to all of my notes from that… I went back to all my notes from the Build Your Author Platform, and like, “Okay, I can do this.” And I had a strategy. Like I did it like a marketing, you know, like, I had a whole marketing plan. And I got, you know, I got a cover artist, I paid for a proofread. And I went out there on Kindle, Kindle Direct Publishing. Now with that out in the world, I wrote the second book which has now become A Sunset in Sydney. Self-published that. And then that year, in 2018, I was actually on sabbatical for a year, my partner and I traveling, and we were living in the UK at the time, and I got connected with a small group of authors, romance authors, and through them, I got, I started to realize that in the UK, they were really ripe for travel romance. And plus we, you know, it was a few years down the track and travel romance was this huge genre, it was a boom genre. And I'm like, “Ah, there's a place for me!”  So, while we were living there, I actually started querying British publishers. You know, referred to myself as the nomad author looking for a publishing home. And, you know, again, went back to my notes and stuff of how do you build that brand and even query letters are part of your brand as an author. So you know, honing those letters. Every time I got a rejection, “okay, what am I not doing right about messaging?” You know, how do you write the blurb? How do you do all of that?  So I just kept practicing, practicing, practicing. And you know, I just kept reminding myself – It takes one ‘yes'. And got back to Australia after sabbatical. No yeses. Quite devastated by that. Thought, okay, well, I'll just self-publish the third one that I'd written. And I got, I got the email. I got the one yes. “We read your book. We love it so much. We want to publish.” And I was, you know, beside myself, like it was, it was… All the stars aligned. And it spoke to, yes, I was, I had, I persevered. And there were a lot of noes; not quite as many as JK Rowling, but there were a lot of noes. And every one is disheartening, you know? But I had to keep going, “Alright, what do I need to be doing about my messaging? Because I know that this is a good story, I know that it's a really entertaining read. How do I get these people to see that?” So, yeah, I think it was just kind of the convergence of the craft of the ‘author business'. So I've got air quotes up there. And, and perseverance and then just really sticking to my creative guns and writing the book that I wanted to write telling the story that I wanted to tell. You know, five years before I'd been told, “no, I'm not interested, this genre is going to go nowhere.” And who, who would have foreseen how important travel fiction has become in like even the last few months, especially, you know, it's a bright beacon in a dreary, dreary time.

 

Valerie Khoo 

So it's not just that you're obviously passionate about writing travel fiction. And as you say, you knew that there was a good story there. But what you've also got is these characters who are to me so real, they're like your friends. And the way, their dialogue is like the way my friends would talk. How do you develop your characters? And how do you get that authenticity? That is just, you know, because sometimes when I read books, it's, you know, especially contemporary books, there's, there's something not always quite right with the dialogue and, and yet, you've got such a natural flow. And with the characters and their dialogue. How do you determine what that character is like? And therefore the kinds of things they would say? The kind of jokes they would tell, the kind of sarcasm they would have? What happens there?

 

Sandy Barker 

That's, oh, gosh, that's such a great question. So as well as being the English teacher, I was a drama teacher for ages as well and I have I have written quite a few scripts. So obviously scripts are 95% dialogue, a bit of stage direction. So for me it's a very weird phenomena but once I have an idea of who I'm writing about, I kind of start to imagine who's in their orbit, who's going to be their love interest? What is their love interest going to bring out in them that they don't already have? So before I start – and I don't, I'm not one of those, you know, whiteboard planners. My planning doesn't look like a murder board. A lot of people I'm like, “Wow, that's really amazing. Oh, you already know every chapter what's going to happen?” And I don't do that.  But for me, I will always, my ‘research' – again, air quotes, sorry for those of you who can't you can't see me doing the air quotes. I'll tell you I'm doing them – my research phase is always around character. So I will write extensive character profiles. And I often will get sparked by somebody or inspired by somebody I know, character names are very, very important to me. I'll do inspiration boards, like pictures, like my current love interest, he's Scottish, and he's got long red hair. And he's described as Hemsworthy. Like, he's really handsome. But she's like, put off by the fact that when she meets him, he's got a man bun, you know. So I'm like, okay, so I started Googling, long, redheaded, Scottish guy. You know, building from there.  And then when I'm imagining a scene, and I usually will write chapters in scenes, so they might have two or three, or maybe even one scene, one, two or three scenes in a chapter, I actually let it percolate for a long time. And I imagine the characters doing all the things and saying all the things. So when I come to write, it sounds really bizarre, but I know that there are some authors who do this, it's almost like I'm channeling people who are talking in my head. So I actually can see and hear them in my head. And I just write down what they say and do.

 

Valerie Khoo 

Wow. And so when you say you imagine them doing the scenes in the chapter, is that while you're in the car? Or do you set aside, here's my imagining chair, and now I'm going to imagine my story.

 

Sandy Barker 

I love that so much.

 

Valerie Khoo 

How does that happen?

 

Sandy Barker 

Often it will come to me while I'm writing. So it just kind of… Sometimes I can't keep up with what they're doing and saying. But a lot of the time, if I'm stuck, I have to go and do something else. I know. I mean, my partner knows when I'm stuck on something because the apartment is spotless. “Oh, you're cleaning out the cupboards?” “Mm hmm.” Or I go to the gym or whatever, I get on the spin bike. I will do something completely different.  And then I start to go, “Oh, yeah, okay, okay. Okay. Okay.” And I'm, you know, I'm like most authors, where you sit down sometimes and it just doesn't happen. You squeeze out 300 words in three hours. And other times, I'll sit down and squeeze out, you know, I'll write 6000 words and go, “Oh, crap. I've written two chapters. Hello.”  So, yeah, I'm very fortunate, I let it percolate, I like to have it, you know, I ruminate. I just kind of let it percolate, steep, and marinate, all those good words in my brain. But then with the dialogue, I always read it back to myself aloud. Because I think that's a way… Our ears are attuned. You know, we consume enough fiction in our lives. Our ears are attuned to what sounds authentic. And I take, I actually take notes as I'm writing like, “Okay, this is this person, this is how they swear. This is, this is their way, this is a phrase they use all the time.” Or, you know… So yeah, I will keep track of that. I'll keep track of their idioms and slang.

 

Valerie Khoo 

In a document about them?

 

Sandy Barker 

Yeah, yeah. Yep.

 

Valerie Khoo 

So obviously, really, it's really character, you really get to know your characters really well. And you say your story doesn't look like a murder board where you've planned it all out. So how do you know the direction in which your story is going? Do you have some idea already at the start, and you just kind of figure out the way to get there? Or do you literally not know what's going to happen next?

 

Sandy Barker 

I always know the main story, like the whole, the story, the character, it's usually based around a character arc. So this person is this way when we meet her or we start with her. I tend to write from the point of view of my female characters. There are other authors who are brilliant at writing across genders and good on them. But so whenever we meet her, I know where she's at, mentally, emotionally. And then I know where I want her to be. I know kind of the arc that I want her to have. And then I'm thinking, “Oh, well, where in the world will she go? Who's she going to meet that's going…” And not just a love interest. Who is she going to meet, who's going to be in her orbit, as I say, to bring out those things in her?  And there might be a character that really bugs them, initially, but then they find compassion for and, you know, I'm very intimate with my characters, as you know, and I see them warts and all. And I want my readers to as well because that's real. That's real. And we have all of these sort of, you know, generic homogenized main characters, what are we learning as readers when we read something? If we've got a main character who really irks us, why? Why? I challenge you to ask yourself as a reader, why?

 

Valerie Khoo 

So when you are in the depths of writing, so maybe not for your first novel, because that was quite a while ago now when you were writing it initially, but perhaps for the two that are out now, That Night in Paris and A Sunset in Sydney, when you're in the depths of writing that, what kind of routine did you have to basically get the words out? Because you currently work full time in a day job. So what do you do to fit it in and make sure it gets done?

 

Sandy Barker 

Well, that I mean, that's a great question. And so yeah, I mean, I've just finished a big round of edits for my fourth book, and I'm nearly finished with my fifth. I get up at, I get up between five and 5:30, every morning. And I'll do a bit of authoring, author biz, which is, you know, social media is part of that. And you know, there might be emails or I have to write a blog post for something or someone. But then I will switch it all off and write a minimum of an hour a day, or if I'm not in editing mode, but if I'm writing mode, I'll write a minimum about an hour. But usually, you know, it can be two or three. And I actually do that most weekends as well, I will write for, I will spend, you know, at least half of the day, every Saturday and Sunday writing.  Yeah, and I don't know, I just I love it so much. And I know where the story's… By the time, by the time I've started a book, I know where it's going to end, I almost always know what the end scene or chapter will be. So I just want to get there. So that's my, my impetus for writing is myself, I'm like, “Okay, I need, I want to get to this.”  And the way I get there will be convoluted because I, you know, I get surprised by my characters. But yeah, I have to be, I found that because I do, as you said, I'm working full time, and my job is it's, it's mental work, it's you know, I have to be kind of heads down, I do a lot of creative content creation, a lot of editing. But it's a different part of my brain. So I give my creative self, I fuel it with tea in the mornings. And then I can switch gears around eight or nine, and then go to my day job. So I found that looks a lot better for me.

 

Valerie Khoo 

Is it an actual kind of like one hour target? Or do you have a word count target?

 

Sandy Barker 

I just, I will usually have a scene target, I want to write the scene, I want to get her to this point, I want this to have happened. And as I said before, a scene might be a whole chapter, or it might be just a part of a chapter, and then you have a little chapter break. So I just kind of want to have completed something that somebody would read it for a natural break, they're like, I'm just gonna read to the end of this bit, you know, that's what I want to have written by the end of the day.  And often when I get back to the work in the morning, I will go back and reread what I wrote the day before. And people say, “Oh, you're not supposed to do that.” I'm like, well, I need to get into the cadence of it. So I'll reread and I might do a little few little tweaks, catch the typos and then just go from there. So I'm just kind of, yeah, it's a nice entry point.

 

Valerie Khoo 

So I just want to check, because I'm sure many people are gonna be extremely impressed that you do this just in the mornings. Are you only writing in the mornings? And of course, the half day on the weekends? Or are you writing when you come home from work as well?

 

Sandy Barker 

Sometimes if I get a really great idea, oh my god, I want to do that. Yeah. You know, like if something comes at lunchtime. Oh, yeah, I'm gonna write that.  But I have found that I am much… I'm much more switched on creatively speaking in the mornings. So I was trying to do the thing. And I actually wrote One Summer in Santorini in the evenings. And, oh, it was such a chore, you know. Whereas I actually get out of bed excited. I'm like, yeah, let's go. So I did, as soon as I flipped it from pm to am that just works for me.

 

Valerie Khoo 

Wow. So that's so impressive that you're now on your fourth and fifth novels, which is fantastic. So of the ones that that are out now, what was the most challenging aspect of writing these novels? You can pick whichever novel? If there's one that's more challenging than the other.

 

Sandy Barker 

I mean, That Night in Paris, I wrote that while on sabbatical, and I was working then but I was only working contract work and I wrote the novel in three weeks.

 

Valerie Khoo 

What?

 

Sandy Barker 

So I just, I wrote it in three weeks, and it just poured out of me. It was such an easy write. But so the flip side of that was A Sunset in Sydney is actually the second book I wrote and I wrote it to be second in chronology. So when the publisher had decided, “let's actually publish That Night in Paris so we'll go off and we'll meet this other character,” I had to change the chronology of the books. So they had spoilers for each other. And you know, they're sisters, and they're talking to each other and these things. So in the editing of That Night in Paris, and then when I came back to A Sunset in Sydney, the chronology had to be addressed.  And the other thing that I got great feedback from, my editor's called Hannah Todd, and she is brilliant. Her feedback is like, always bang on and just so clear and actionable. But she came back to me and she said, “You need to write this book as though that all the readers haven't read One Summer in Santorini.” So I was like, “Oh, really? Can't we just make them read.” So the hard part was to create something that was for, you know, readers who'd loved the series and knew the series and knew the characters and where they were at, and filling them in, in a way that wasn't like this big information dump. It was fun, and kind of, it was almost a, you know, ‘previously on' kind of thing. So that was challenging for me. That was something I had to learn how to do. That Night in Paris, because it's a completely different character, you can kind of backfill a little bit around her sister Sarah from the first book. But coming back to the same character, and you've not read the previous book, and it's a whole, you know, it's a whole book, there's a whole bunch going on, is just finding those little points where you can just give, you know, a sentence or two, or just a little bit of backstory. That was really, really a big learning curve for me, but she said, I did okay, so hopefully that's…

 

Valerie Khoo 

Now, we have to come back to this three weeks thing, because there are people who are going to be listening whose mouths, whose jaws are still on the table. So now, you pour, it poured out of you, did you write practically 20 hours a day?

 

Sandy Barker 

No. I'm a bit like, I'm a bit like Allison Tait because I know she says she's a fast writer. I knew exactly what the story was going to be, and it was almost, it was just all in my head ahead of time. And because I had been a Contiki tour manager, and I had great notes, and I had good travel journals and everything. I knew, I mean, I knew the circuit. So I knew the locations. And setting is really important to me. So I could, I could write those settings like, you know, blindfold or whatever.  But once I had, once I had the love interest, and figured out the backstory there and everything, I was like, it just… Look, it's just Kismet. And I was on sabbatical, I put all my work on hold, my contract work on hold. We were living in Portugal at the time, and it was NaNoWriMo. So it was National Novel Writing Month. And so I wrote all day, every day. So I wrote eight to 10 hours a day. Just couldn't wait to get the story out. It was so exciting to me.  Of course, you know, then there's the editing and everything; that was just the first draft. But it's gone through lots of edits since then, you know? So yeah, it's, I'm not going to say start to finish it was three weeks. But that first draft, three weeks.

 

Valerie Khoo 

So let's talk about the editing, then. Your first draft is three weeks. And then how much work… So you've got it out there, which is fantastic. And that's so great that you used NaNoWriMo. So how much work had to be done after that point? And when you went back, did you kind of go, “Oh, my God, why did I write that when in fact that's not supposed to happen?”

 

Sandy Barker 

Well, look, I… As my editor says, I write pretty clean. So and I write chronologically; I write in order. So that helps a lot. And I do have a really strong sense of character. But when I go back and do my edit before I would submit a manuscript to my editor, I go back through, and I do a check for overused words, and I do a check for, you know, phrases or sayings or whatever. And I make sure that the right character says the right thing. So I do my own kind of editorial pass.  I have had, I have had a lot heavier, I have had a lot heavier edit this time around for my fourth book, which is coming. It's a standalone, but it's a triple narrative. I wrote three main characters. And they were all in different parts of the world all having Christmas at the same time. And so they had touchpoints where they would call each other, what have you. And I was just finishing around of structural edits, which was the most rigorous edit I've ever had, and I realized that in Colorado, eight hours had passed and in Melbourne 40 hours had passed, but I had them talking to each other on the phone at the end. So I'm like, “Oh no!” So I had to move chapters around and everything. So that was a time where if I had looked after myself further upstream, previous Sandy had planned and really plotted it out each of those touchpoints, I would have had not had such a rigorous edit.  But on the whole the other books that I'm writing, it's just a linear narrative. So I don't get in, I don't get stuck in those sorts of plot points where I go, “Oh, no, that can't have happened, because that hasn't happened yet.” I did have a bit of that when I was working on the chronologies of book two and three. But once I had it kind of clear in my head, it was okay.

 

Valerie Khoo 

You're obviously very prolific. Where do you get your ideas from?

 

Sandy Barker 

Well, they're mostly, as I said, character based, and I just kind of converge ideas for characters with places I've been to, because I just want to write about places I've been to. And I need to start going to more places because I'm running out of places I've been to. With That Night in Paris, there's a couple of characters in there who I really want them to have their own story. So I'm thinking, “Oh, who can I send off to this place that I've been to?” You know, my partner and I, we started our sabbatical in Bali, we lived in Bali for two months. So I've actually just written a book, the one I'm writing now that I'm nearly done, she goes to Bali on sabbatical. Like that's not rocket science. I can lean on my experiences, and look at my photos and my travel journals, etc.  But yeah, I do have ideas that are percolating. I think all authors do. They're just kind of buzzing in the background that are not travel fiction at all. And I have these kind of plot driven ideas that, who knows, maybe next year, I'll just kind of switch gears after I've contributed more to this series, I might just switch gears and do something completely different. So, yeah.

 

Valerie Khoo 

So, cast your mind back to, I don't know, maybe five years ago or so, when you didn't have a deal with HarperCollins, and you weren't writing your fifth novel, did you ever anticipate you'd be in this situation? Or did you always know it was gonna happen one day?

 

Sandy Barker 

I, I was… That's a great question. I hoped, I longed, I wished, I dreamt. But until I self-published, I really didn't believe or give myself permission to call myself an author. In fact, it wasn't even until after six months, until I had two books out, did I call myself an author.  So the dream was to get a publishing deal. And my dream now, I have a new dream, my dream is to be a full time author. And I'm not, I'm not talking out of school. My team know that at my day job. You know, I'm like, “Hey, I'm here, I'm going to give you 100% while I'm here, but my dream is actually not to be here.”  Yeah, I do pinch myself. And it was the goal, it's the professional goal, I'd love to, you know, in the next couple of years, just be writing. So and now I have kind of a foothold, I want to leverage that and just keep learning about the business. And on the flip side of that, keep being supportive of other authors. So I was really welcomed into the author community, both here in Australia and across the world. And I have some wonderful friends and mentors in that community. And I'm so grateful for their generosity. And I likewise want to do the same.

 

Valerie Khoo 

I know some people are wondering, but if you can just briefly mention what your day job is. So that…

 

Sandy Barker 

Oh, sure. So I work in adult education, and specifically in online education. So we've had kind of a really intense past few months, supporting, supporting our clients and our partners around moving to online learning very, very quickly. So yeah, it's great. I mean, I think I'll always have a hand in education. I am an educator, writer, and traveler, and then an educator. And it's a passion of mine as well.

 

Valerie Khoo 

And of course, when you do become able to devote full time hours to this, the great thing about being an author is that you can literally write from anywhere. So no doubt you will be turning up in Bali and Santorini and Paris and Prague and all sorts of places because it sounds like the perfect match for you.  Now, finally, what are your top three tips for aspiring writers who'd like to be in a position where you are one day?

 

Sandy Barker 

That's a fantastic question. I would say be an active member of the writing community. You'll learn from each other and they're the people who really get it, they get that you're showing up every day.  Number two, write the book. You can't edit a blank page. I did not come up with that, but I say it all the time. So you just have to, it's, it's, you know, you have to be in the chair, and you have to be writing the book.  And third one, learn about the biz. It's not often the most fun part. But marketing is really important. Having a platform, having a brand as an author is really, really important. And part of that is honing your query, your query letters and your synopses. And, yeah, I think it's just kind of, that's the trifecta really, isn't it? So it's community, you know, get the work done. And also think about what the career can be. Because it's, it's an industry, it's a business just like any other, so if you can learn as much as you can about it, then it's going to help you.

 

Valerie Khoo 

Fantastic. And on that note, congratulations on That Night in Paris and A Sunset in Sydney. And I have no doubt we have many more to look forward to. Thank you so much for your time today, Sandy.

 

Sandy Barker 

Thank you. An absolute pleasure.

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