Review and interview by Liza Perrat
For this week’s Triskele Bookclub, I’d like to introduce Canadian author, Patricia Sands. Patricia writes women’s fiction novels set in Provence, France and her own love affair with this country certainly shines through in her vivid descriptions of the history, customs, food, wine and beautiful landscape.
I have greatly enjoyed the first two novels of Patricia’s Love in Provence series: The Promise of Provence, of which my review first appeared on Bookmuse, and the second, Promises to Keep.
LP: Patricia, I believe you spend a part of the year in France? Whereabouts, and when did this love of France start?
PS: I’ll answer your last question first. My love affair with France began fifty years ago (Yikes! I’m always shocked when I say that out loud!) and has continued to grow into a full-blown romance. I’ve been fortunate to visit most regions of the country throughout my life on vacation. Then, for the past twenty years, my husband and I have spent extended stays varying from one to five months. We often fly through Paris and stay there for a week before heading south to the Côte d’Azur. Nice and Antibes are where we settle most frequently and our side trips are based from there. Since I began writing novels set in France in 2011, much of our exploring revolves around research I’m doing. It’s all a labour of love.
LP: Can you tell us a bit about the Women's Travel Network?
PS: This is an offshoot of Worldwide Quest travel company. WTN is Toronto-based and provides excellent trips for small groups of women. In 2014 they invited me to work with them to develop a tour based on my novel, The Promise of Provence. We spend five days in Nice with daily visits to places like Eze, St. Paul de Vence, Grasse, and, of course, Antibes. Then we travel to Avignon, with a stop in Aix-en-Provence along the way. During our five day stay in Avignon, we also explore the countryside of Provence. The trip is planned in June while lavender is in bloom. It’s a fabulous holiday and I love going along to share the places I write about. My friend and fellow author, Susan Sommers, co-leads the tours with me. We did two in 2014 and another is planned for 2017.
LP: What triggered the idea to set your novels in France?
PS: After the success of my first novel, The Bridge Club, I knew that I wanted to continue writing stories about older women. Because of my love for the south of France, it only seemed logical to set The Promise of Provence in that location. We lived in Antibes for five months while I wrote the first draft and, to be honest, if we did not have such a lovely big family in Canada, we would live there forever! Never mind, I’ll be happy with visits and living there in my books. I had no idea that The Promise of Provence would turn into a series. I heard from so many readers who wanted more of Katherine’s story that it was a pleasure to continue. The final part of the trilogy, I Promise You This, will be released by Amazon in May and is available now on pre-order. Although there is romance in these stories, the novels are more about a dramatic mid-life change in the life of Katherine Price after her husband suddenly leaves her. Location is like another character in my writing and my readers say they feel like they are in France as they read. That pleases me!
LP: I believe you’ve moved from independent publishing now? Can you tell us a little about the Lake Union Publishing imprint (Women's Fiction) of Amazon Publishing, and why you think you were approached by them?
PS: I was happily working away as an indie author, thanks to the amazing collegiality of that community and the support we all offer each other. Out of the blue, in January 2015, I received an email from a Senior Acquisitions Editor with Amazon’s Lake Union imprint. They were interested in acquiring the rights to my Love in Provence series and signed me to a contract. I have to say I was very proud to receive that invitation. One of the things they mentioned was that they became aware of me through my presence on social media and also the number of high reviews for my books. So, to all writers who get annoyed with the demands of social media, I say keep at it!
LP: What made you decide to publish with Amazon, rather than continuing to independently publish?
PS: I honestly don’t think I would have signed with anyone but Amazon. The primary reason being that they never stop promoting your book, even after that first rush of sales. That’s often not the case with traditional publishing houses. However, I still have the rights to The Bridge Club independently and can continue to self-publish in the future if I choose. I fall into the “hybrid” category, which I think is the best of both worlds.
LP: Do you have any input in the publishing process? If so, what?
PS: The support Amazon has offered has been most impressive. My editor is always available to discuss anything. All of the support I’ve received through the process of developmental editing, copyediting, proofreading, marketing, has been professional, friendly and first-rate. I’m definitely a fan. I have felt very included in the entire process. Cover development, promotional wording are all worked on together.
LP: Are you happy with this decision and will you continue this form of publishing?
PS: I am very happy with my connection with Amazon and they have first right of refusal to my next work. However, I have no qualms about continuing with independently published work as well. I love being part of the writing community and making the international connections that are so easily developed these days online. It’s an exciting time to be a writer.
LP: Can you give us any hints about the next story in the Love in Provence series?
PS: The third novel, I Promise You This, actually begins in Toronto where our protagonist, Katherine, has had to urgently return. When she does get back to France, the story lingers in the Loire Valley for a change of scene and then back to the Côte d’Azur (oops … that may be a spoiler …), where more surprises await. I’m actually going to continue with another trilogy that continues the lives of these characters, so I’m excited about that. Readers have asked and I’m thrilled to comply.
LP: It’s been lovely chatting with you, Patricia, and we wish you much ongoing success with your writing and your travels.
Thank you for inviting me. I’m a big fan of the Triskele group and it has been my pleasure to chat with you, Liza.
Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else. An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France, for her annual visit.
As of January, 2015, along with being a proud indie author, Patricia is also delighted to be under contract with Lake Union Publishing for her Love In Provence series. This is the women’s fiction arm of Amazon Publishing.
With a focus on travel, women’s issues and ageing, her stories celebrate the feminine spirit and the power of friendship. Encouraging women of all ages to stare down the fear factor and embrace change, Patricia has heard from readers (men too!) ages 20 to 83.
Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010 and the audiobook, read by Patricia, will be available soon.
Her second novel, The Promise of Provence received a 2014 National Indie Excellence Finalist Award in Literary Fiction. An Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013, The Promise of Provence was also a USA Best Book 2013 Finalist ~ Women’s Fiction.
Thanks to reader requests, The Promise of Provence, set in the south of France, became the beginning of the Love In Provence series. Promises To Keep, Book 2 in the series, was published in 2014. The rights to the series were then acquired by Amazon’s Lake Union Publishing, who relaunched Books 1 and 2 in October, 2015 and will publish I Promise You This (Book 3) in May, 2016. This last book of the trilogy is now available for pre-order on Amazon.
In June 2014, Patricia led two 10-day tours of the French Riviera and the countryside of Provence. These trips were based on The Promise of Provence, with the Womens Travel Network. Let her know if you would like to go with her and a small group of women. It’s the perfect trip for women traveling on their own or with good friends. She is already counting the days to the next tour which is scheduled for June 2017.
Find out more at Patricia’s Facebook Author Page, Amazon Author Page, Goodreads or her blog where you will find links to her books, social media, and monthly newsletter. The latter, sent once a month, contains special giveaways as well as her photography and information about the south of France, her home away from home. She would love to hear from you!