This week popular author Kristin Anderson is interviewing Sarah Turner, the lead character from her travel romance The Things We Said In Venice. As Venice is one of my favourite places I can’t wait to find out more about this book. Isn’t the cover gorgeous?
Sarah Turner knows all about helping others get their lives on track. But when her own life spirals drastically off course due to a fast-track divorce, she surprises everyone. She leaves her job and home in Bend, Oregon and heads to Europe for a six-week solo adventure. Amsterdam is her final destination where she plans to enter a controversial program that could change her life.
Renowned Dutch travel writer Fokke van der Veld has seen it all. After a major betrayal, there’s one thing he’s not interested in seeing again: women. That’s why the guys-only trip to the Italian Dolomites with his old classmates is just what he needs. Sort of. If they weren’t teasing him and getting him drunk.
When a series of unexpected events in Italy throw Fokke and Sarah together, the sparks are undeniable, but so is the fear that keeps them apart. Will these two independent travelers open themselves up to a chance of love, or catch a fast train to safety?
Intrigued? Now let’s read Kristin Anderson interview with Sarah. She caught up with Sarah four weeks into her journey.
Hi Sarah. I’m really impressed with you. Before that God-awful divorce, you had never been outside the U.S. In fact, you didn’t even have a passport. Where did you get the moxie to leave everything you know and go on a six-week solo journey to Europe?
Wow. That’s a pretty personal question, but I understand why you’re asking. The divorce, combined with the sudden passing of my mom, was like a bucket of ice being dumped over my soul: It shocked me into the now and forced me to take a look at my life. I realized I was putting everyone’s needs before my own and had never really allowed time for myself; not even as a child. I was like, It’s Sarah time.
You go girl! As you know, I’m a hopeless romantic. So, naturally I’m curious; are you open to meeting someone new? Especially considering all of the romantic locations on your itinerary: Paris, Venice and Amsterdam, to name a few.
Heck no! Did you even listen to my last response? This trip is about me getting to know myself again; about healing, honoring my late mother, personal growth and me time with a capital M-E. I’m not about to fall for some guy.
Ummm. Sarah. You do realize you’re the lead protagonist of a travel romance novel?
Well, yes. But be realistic. You know about that appointment I have in Amsterdam at the end of my trip and how it will potentially change my life?
Yes, of course I know. But still; wouldn’t a travel fling, something juicy, just wake you up inside? I mean, you’ve gone through the bucket-of-ice-on-your-soul experience, how about a gorgeous, hot, sexy—
I’m not the travel fling type! And if you try something like that in The Things We Said in Venice, you know I’m going to put up a fight.
I’m sure you will, Sarah! Okay. Let’s change subjects. When I started writing about you, you were a vegetarian. But you kept telling me you were vegan. You talked, I listened. Why is veganism so important to you?
As far as vegans go, I’m not extremely outspoken, but if someone asks—and you did ask—I’ll definitely share. Factory farming is totally cruel and unnecessary, and a vegan diet means you’re no longer supporting that cruelty, it’s healthier for us and the planet. From our time together while you were writing my character, I know you and I are both worried about the environment. You should consider becoming a vegan too, Kristin.
Thanks Sarah. I’ll tell you what, I’ll consider it if you humor me and describe the perfect man for you.
Ha! Okay. Here goes: He’s honest, not emotionally damaged, dark-hair, brown eyes, my age or younger, not too tall, loves kids and has a good heart.
He sounds lovely. I’ll see what I can do. Which minor character would you like to see much more of in the sequel to The Things We Said in Venice?
That’s an easy one. I’d love it if you focused on my sister April Turner and figure out a way to get her to come to Europe to see me. She’ll be quite a challenge, though, for your romance genre. She doesn’t believe in love or commitment! I think that’s related to her career. April is an Information Technology (I.T.) specialist and because she’s so good at her job, she takes a lot of flak from men in this male dominated industry. If you could get her to find a happily-ever-after I’d be eternally grateful to you Kristin!
I like April too, but you’re right; she’s a hard nut to crack when it comes to romance. What is your next destination?
Tomorrow I’m heading to Cortina d’Ampezzo. It’s a beautiful village in Northern Italy near the Italian Dolomites, not far from the Austrian border. It looks simply gorgeous in the brochure. I’ll be staying in a rustic lodge for a few nights. I’m very excited.
Sounds lovely Sarah! One more question before you continue on your journey. As a counselor and as a woman who has been traveling on her own for the last month on a journey of healing, what advice would you give to other women who need to heal?
I have a lot to say on this one, so I’ll give you a short list.
- So many of us beat ourselves up. Stop that! Be your own best friend and show yourself the kindness you deserve.
- Create space for yourself in your life; even if it’s just taking a walk, meditating or reading a novel.
- Keep a journal and write your heart and soul into it. Reread it a year from now and you will see your progress shining through. If not, you’ll see where you’re stuck. Knowing is half the battle.
- Don’t get stuck in the pain or spiral too far inward. This shuts you off from the energy of life and makes it hard to break out of a negative pattern. Too much ‘me’ can be a trap. Thus, keep your eyes open for the goodness in life; it can show up in the strangest places and in totally unexpected ways.
- Make realistic goals as well as daring to have big dreams and write them down, taking baby steps or leaps of faith every day to get closer to your goals and dreams.
- Create a vision board. I did one before I left for Europe and it really helped me visualize the steps it would take for me to make this dream come true.
- We only have the now. Appreciate what life throws your way. See the good, learn from it and move forward.
Thank you, Sarah! Enjoy the rest of your European vacation and do keep your own advice in mind as you proceed! Thank you, Karen King for sharing my chat with Sarah on your fabulous blog. What a great series. I’ve enjoyed reading other blog posts here, which has expanded my TBR list.
Thank you, Kristin. Loved the interview with Sarah and her fab advice. How about we share an extract from the book with my blog readers:
Chapter 1: Sarah
While the locals shuffle carefully over the snow-slicked sidewalks, Sarah runs like a mad woman toward the Belluno station. I will not miss this one, she chants in time to the distant, yet steady clickety-clack of the train’s metal wheels gliding over tracks. She picks up her pace, the icy air burning her nostrils, the straps of her pack chafing her shoulders despite her thick winter layers.
She cuts through the abandoned village park, her laborious movements at odds with the utter stillness as Belluno train station finally pops into view. As she slows her pace, her body relays physical complaints to her mind: the surprising weight of her backpack cutting into her shoulders, the ache of ice-cold air in her lungs, the burning sensation of snowflakes on her cheeks.
When she comes to a standstill, a rush of heat explodes through her body. Moments later, perspiration builds beneath her thick winter layers, cooling her down. Damp curls form a blanket of cold around her neck. She shakes her head involuntarily as the first shiver crawls up her spine.
As means of distraction, Sarah people watches, though the pickings are slim—a thickly built woman holding the hand of a stout, large-eared boy, presumably her son, and an older, clean-shaven man in military uniform. All three sport dry hair.
By the time the train pulls into the station and Sarah hears the familiar hiss of the doors opening, her teeth are chattering. She finds a free place in the third railcar and finally unstraps the cumbersome backpack, setting it in the seat beside her. The whistle sounds and the train is about to take off, but it doesn’t. There is some sort of commotion. The doors open and close again. She can hear two men talking, perhaps the conductor and a male passenger. Although she can’t make out the words, one voice is laced with tension and a bit too loud. The other voice, which she assumes belongs to the conductor, remains calm.
Back home, she would need to know why the doors had to open once more and what these men are discussing. But in the past four weeks of free-wheeling through western Europe on her own, she has adjusted her way of responding to things beyond her control. She has learned to let go. It is so different from how she acts at home that she has given her newfound skill a name: European Style Detachment.
Her feet and hands begin to return to body temperature as the train finally leaves the station. She leans into her large backpack and closes her eyes. She feels a slight pulsing in her subconscious, like an alarm clock going off in the neighboring hotel room; something you hear, but can choose to ignore. Except that she can’t. Something’s not right. It could be that slightly angry conversation she overheard, or it could be that the bag she is leaning into doesn’t smell like her bag. It has the faint scent of cinnamon and musk tinged with sweat; the scent of a man.
Sarah straightens in her seat, scrutinizing the travel backpack as one might scrutinize a naked stranger you have unwittingly brought into your bed—curiosity tempered with fear. It is black like hers. It has the white North Face logo of her bag and the same rainbow strap she put on it to differentiate her black bag from all the other black bags of the world. But isn’t the strap in a different place? And come to think of it, it felt heavier than her bag when she was sprinting to the train station.
Maybe it smells so manly from being in the pile of luggage where she stashed it while she grabbed a brioche at the café. Or, it could have been shuffled around in the compartment beneath the shuttle bus from Cortina to Belluno; cologne from a man’s bag spilling on hers.
I’m being ridiculous, she tells herself. But she unbuckles the exterior straps anyway and peers into the top compartment.
“Oh my God!” Sarah exclaims as she shuffles through the doppelganger of her bag. Several passengers turn toward her momentarily and then look away, exemplifying European Style Detachment. At the top of the backpack is a photography magazine written in what she thinks must be German. She pushes aside the magazine, revealing an impressive stash of Cote d’Or chocolate bars in their distinctive red and gold cardboard wrappers, cloth handkerchiefs in a Ziploc bag, a leather-bound journal, water, men’s plaid underwear size XL, slacks, long sleeve shirts, pants and thick woolen socks. On the inside tag of the top compartment is a name written in black permanent marker: Fokke van der Veld. She stops her search and pushes the bag away in shock. How the hell did this happen?
It has stopped snowing outside and sun reflects off the whitened fields, punching into the window. Sarah reaches automatically into the side pocket for her sunglasses, but of course they’re not there. Her mother is in a thick pea coat, wearing Sarah’s missing sunglasses and deathly blue lipstick that promises to make her forthcoming tirade all the graver:
What are you going to do now Sarah? You should have taken your time in Cortina d’Ampezzo to make sure you had your own bag! Your passport, your money, your iPad. Everything is in that bag! You could be mistaken for a terrorist and thrown in prison for traveling without identification.
The locals say Cortina, not Cortina d’Ampezzo, Sarah counters. As a school counselor, she is well aware it’s abnormal to be seeing visions of her mother in her head, not to mention silently conversing with her. But as usual, mom’s got a point. Sarah thinks about Italian corruption, envisions a musty 17th century prison cell with a mangy rat family in one corner and instruments of torture in the other. She stands suddenly, wanting to take action; wanting her mom to shut up. She has thirty euros in her jacket pocket along with the train ticket and the address of the hotel in Treviso where she will be staying. That’s at least something. But how on earth is she going to get her bag back? And who the hell is Fokke van der Veld?
Interested to read more? Download the Kindle version now! https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XKDNFTM
The Things We Said in Venice https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XKDNFTM
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Raised by her librarian-mother and photographer-father in the rural Santa Ynez Valley in California, Kristin developed a love of storytelling in her formative years. Her degree in English Literature led to a career of writing for others. It wasn’t until she moved to The Netherlands with her husband and their son, that she was able to pursue a lifelong dream of writing fiction. Readers described her novels as “eco-romance,” due to the environmental issues that play a role in her writing.
Green, published in 2013, is her debut stand-alone novel and she released her second novel, The Things We Said in Venice in March, 2017. Her years living and traveling in Europe clearly influenced the setting of this second novel, which travels throughout Western Europe.
She is currently working on a sequel to The Things We Said in Venice as well as a paranormal environmental trilogy.
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Bring a little sunshine into your life with one of my sassy, feel good romances. From Amazon and other book stories. All books available in print too.