Meet Sandy Gingras and read more about her and her debut novel Paradise Girls published by St, Martin;s Griffin (July 5 2022)!
Mary Valley is in a funk. She’s a writer for home magazines, but she’s lost touch with what home means. She’s estranged from her daughter and granddaughter, and mired in a dead-end relationship with her boss who insists on spending holidays with his ex. To get away from him and the life she’s come to feel at odds with, Mary plans an unforgettable trip. But the hotel that was advertised as a dream resort is down on its luck, and Mary’s daughter bails at the last minute, leaving her with her unhappy granddaughter. Mary’s paradise quickly becomes a bit of a mess. That is, until she meets Daniel (and wrecks his boat).
“The Paradise Girls is a heavenly book, wise and funny, surprising, realistic, and a joy to read from the first page to the last. I recommend this book, heart and soul!” – Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author of Family Reunion
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your published book (s).
I was a late bloomer when it came to writing. I didn’t even begin until I was thirty. But once I started, it was all-engines-go. I’ve written and illustrated twenty-five gift books. I also wrote a poetry chapbook and a kooky little comic murder mystery before I wrote Paradise Girls. I also design products for the gift and stationery industries and I own two retail stores. I love all these different aspects of my life. I think if I were only writing novels, I’d go crazy being so in my head all day every day. My life now is busy but balanced– creative in a lot of different ways. I like to seesaw between a solitary writing-life and a more social job, between mental and manual labor too. That feels healthy to me.
Tell us about the genre you like to write, and how is it similar / different from other women fiction genres?
Paradise Girls is kind of in between a beach-read and women’s fiction. It’s told from three different perspectives—an eighty-year old woman, and a man and a woman both in their forties.
What are some of the biggest challenges hen lit authors face today?
I guess I never thought of myself as a “hen lit writer.” I think I just do me, and I’m a conglomerate of roles and ages at this point of my life (age 63). I can still speak as a child, as a teenager, as a new mother, as an older woman. And I love all of these voices and think they all matter. The book I’m writing now is from a thirty-year-old woman’s perspective. But the next one I write, I definitely want to go to an older perspective—sixty and smart and funny and sexy and full of heart. So fun!
When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a writer? What are some things that inspire you to write?
I wrote Paradise Girls because I admire people with bounce–people felled by loss who manage to get themselves back up and walk and trot and even skip again. I think healing is heroic. Not those people who turn themselves into rocks to cope with pain, but those who feel their way through things, whose vulnerability is their strength. I guess I feel this soft spot for the strugglers because I’ve had depression most of my life. I write, in part, because I keep learning from my own characters how to do it–how to live.
What kind of message do your book (s) convey to readers?
Maybe I shouldn’t admit that I love my characters, but I do. There’s Mary–the home magazine writer who loses her home and who gets flattened by love but who keeps on going in her clumsy, stubborn way. And Daniel, the broken-hearted fisherman whose son died, who is tempted to lose himself at sea, but who, instead, keeps chugging onward. And Tripod, the war-torn, three-legged dog who manages to bring everyone together with his hippity-hoppity resilience. I love their crooked paths and how they intersect. How they walk each other home. I hope my readers love the characters in Paradise Girls too. And the story. And I hope too, in some small way, it helps them live.
What is your typical writing routine like?
I’m not someone to emulate when it comes to writing style. I write on my couch or at my work table or at my desk in my office—wherever. I write on a sketch pad with no lines or on my laptop—however. I write in the mornings usually. Except when I write in the afternoon or in the evening. It’s kind of dreadful. I’m all over the place. But I get things done. I’m very stubborn and very project-oriented. Once I begin something, I keep on going until I get it done. One of my favorite artists/writers is SARK. She’s a big advocate of “making things real.” I’ve learned a lot from just that phrase.
Who are some of your favorite authors and why?
My favorite writers are Anne Tyler and Elizabeth Berg. But I also love Beth O’Leary, Katherine Center, Jenny Colgan and Maddie Dawson. There are so many wonderful women writers these days. The world is clearly a troubled place right now, but it’s also exploding with creativity. I feel hopeful about that.
Any advice you’d like to give for aspiring writers at this stage in life?
I am committed to my own growth as a writer. I am constantly taking workshops and classes. I love to write poetry and memoir and fiction. All of it! I love to teach writing too. I think there’s nothing better than a room full of people who are interested in learning and creating. I’m also very interested in the intersection of art and writing–I’ve run workshops on doodling and how it can be a useful and even magical writing prompt. To any aspiring writer, I say, “Go for it!” Writing will make you a better person. It will transform you and make you feel more alive. It’s healthier than anything I know. And it’s fun. And to be in a community of writers to be at home. What more could anyone want.
About the Author: Sandy Gingras is the author and illustrator of over twenty gift books. She’s also published fiction, poetry and narrative non-fiction, and she won the Debut Dagger Award for mystery writing in 2012, for her story Beached. She’s designed hundreds of products for national stationery companies and owns two retail stores of her own. She lives on an island six miles out to sea in a happy cottage on the bay with her husband and a dog named Turtle. Paradise Girls is her debut novel.
Get her book here on Amazon!