Sandie Docker’s third novel, The Banksia Bay Beach Shack hits the shelves this week with a rich cast of characters paying homage to endearing friendships, family loyalty, and multi-generational secrets.
In her trademark writing style, Sandie puts you right in the middle of the drama so you can’t help but feel for each of the protagonists and the secrets they’re working to hide. The story starts with journalist Laura taking a road trip to the small country coastal town of Banksia Bay, eager for clues to her late grandmother’s past. Before long, she uncovers the life, friendships and a mystery, all of which her grandmother never mentioned. The modern plotline is overlaid with flashbacks to the 1960s, told from the perspective of Banksia Bay teenager Gigi – now the town’s adored beach shack café owner – who fights to keep a chain of lies buried. I loved the well-executed backstory, the depth of the characters, the many heart-warming themes and the spotlight on racism. Keep your tissues ready for the surprise ending. If you haven’t picked up a Sandie Docker novel yet, I can highly recommend this one! Thanks to Penguin Random House for the review copy, the fabulous Banksia Bay Beach Shack is available in paperback, eBook and on audiobook.
As well as a bestselling, internationally published author, Sandie speaks German, studied Mandarin, is an English language teacher, and recently unveiled plans for an inaugural Northern Beaches Readers Festival in Sydney this September. She’s also very handy with a wooden spoon and mixing bowl, creating show-stopping cakes and cupcakes, with extra spare spent coaching netball, teaching swimming and spending time with her family in New South Wales.
Short and sweet questions
Current book on your bedside table: The End of Cuthbert Close by Cassie Hamer
Where do you do most of your writing? I do most of my writing in my library (fancy name for a room in my house I turned into a study with books on every wall).
Favourite Australian holiday destination: Anywhere by the beach.
What’s your preferred drop? Water. Boring, I know!
Guilty pleasure? Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.
Pet peeve: Only one??? People who say they’ll go with the flow, only to fight the flow at every chance.
Favourite fictional couple and why? Juliet and Dawsey from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. They are true soul mates and so gentle and perfect with each other. Swoon-worthy.
If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be? I was going to say books, but books are essential, right? And chocolate.
Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for: Leonie Kelsall has her debut rural romance coming out in July this year and she is awesome, so I’m looking forward to that one.
Established authors who inspire you? All of them. Even if it’s a genre I don’t enjoy reading. Anyone who can get a book to publication is a star. My personal inspirations are Meave Binchey, Jojo Moyes, and Geraldine Brooks.
Best thing about being a writer? Getting to tell the stories of the people inside my head (yes, they are real to me), and then connecting with readers who love those stories.
Worst thing about being a writer? Deadlines. I’m terrible at them and they don’t like me!! We are not friends.
Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence when writing? What song/channel/podcast do you have on high rotation? I tend to write in silence, sometimes with a playlist going in the background. The playlist varies with each book.
Favourite perfume: I have a really sensitive nose, so don’t wear any. I don’t even like flowery candles. Citrus and wood scents I do like, though.
TV/film crush: Anyone who knows me, knows my one true love is Hugh Jackman. Always. Forever.
The best non-writing related prize I won was… I never win anything! Except one year when I was P&C President of daughter’s school and I bought a ticket in another school’s P&C raffle (we are a supportive community), and I won their first prize – a $500 woolies voucher. It wasn’t so much the prize, but the irony of it.
Top three tips for aspiring authors? Write, write, write. Is that 1 or 3? You can’t get published if you never finish.
What theme do you hope shines through in your writing? Love in all its powerful forms and the need to find where we belong.
Proudest author moment? Probably when that first book hit the shelf.
If anyone gives me flack for writing in the romance genre, I tell them… they’ve missed the point of literature entirely. Literature is supposed to be a reflection of the human condition in all its forms and that includes romance and love. It’s one thing to not enjoy a genre (there are genres I don’t read), but to dismiss a genre as ‘unworthy’ is another thing altogether. It’s ironic that these people are usually literary snobs, yet they’ve totally missed the point of what literature is.
My favourite thing about writing romance is…that I get to explore love in all its forms. Romantic love, familial love, love that crosses generations. Without love we cease to exist as humans so to explore that in my writing is privilege.
Three fun facts about Sandie:
- Studied German and Mandarin at Uni
- Once had dreams of being a professional tennis player (obviously that didn’t happen)
- Can devour a packet of Tim-Tams faster than anyone on the planet
Follow Sandie online:
Rural fiction writer Maya Linnell honed her journalism skills at a country newspaper before moving to PR and now fiction. Her debut rural romance novel – Wildflower Ridge – is published by Allen and Unwin and she is hard at work on the sequel. A voracious reader, Maya also loves baking, gardening, preserving home-grown fruit and veggies, and raising three little bookworms. She lives on a small country coastal property in regional Victoria with her family and a growing menagerie of animals, gathering inspiration from her rural surrounds and the close-knit communities within.
Follow Maya online