NK Chats To… Sandy Barker

NK Chats To… Sandy Barker

Hi Sandy. Thank you so much for inviting me on the blog tour. Can you tell me about your novel, The Christmas Trip, and what inspired it?

When I wrote The Christmas Swap back in 2020, I didn’t know that I’d eventually write a sequel, but that niggling question, ‘Where are the May Ladies now?’ kept popping into my head. I wanted to bring them all together this time―from their various homes around the world―and thought ‘Hawaii!’ It’s a destination we’ve travelled to twice and it’s so incredibly beautiful. In Book 2, there are new characters, including Mama Leilani, plenty of May Ladies mayhem, some rocky romantic situations, and a Hawaiian Christmas to remember. It was a blast to write.


What’s your typical writing day like?

I still work in adult education 4 days a week, so I typically write or edit in the early mornings before switching gears to work mode. Fridays are a writing day but with the freedom of a sleep-in till at least 6:00am 😉. And I typically write on Saturdays and Sundays for at least a few hours. If I’m editing, I simply swap writing for editing on the same schedule but those weekends become a lot more intense. There’s usually a tight turnaround on edits―1-2 weeks.


What are the challenges you found when writing your novel?

Many authors, me included, will spend years writing their first novel. I drafted the book that became One Summer in Santorini so many times that the story started to ‘blur’ for me. It took a professional eye―my first editor, Molly Walker-Sharp―to help me pare back the story and go deeper into the characters while still maintaining my writerly voice and ensuring that the setting―the Greek Islands―really sang.


What songs would make up a playlist for your book?

I’m a die-hard Mariah Carey-Michael Bublé Christmas album fan. Throw in a bit of Bing, even Elvis and I am HAPP-PPYYY! I even love a lot of the Christmas hymns. ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’, ‘Silent Night, ‘The Little Drummer Boy’, ‘Oh, Holy Night’ … I’ll sing along at full volume. And, of course, The Christmas Trip is set in Hawaii so ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ and the (not-so-Christmassy-but a fave nonetheless) ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow-What a Wonderful World’ by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.


From idea to finished book, what’s your writing process like and how long does it typically take you?

From Chapter 1 to a completed manuscript typically takes me 3-5 months, depending on how much mental space I have outside of my other job. And editing earlier books often cuts into writing time. This book actually took me the longest to write since my first book―about 6 months―because I had to stop writing to edit A Sunrise over Bali and A Wedding in Tuscany.


What’s your favourite word and why?

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