Eight Years and Ten Books Later… by Paige Toon
I can barely believe The Sun in Her Eyes is my tenth book! The last eight years have flown by – not least because I’ve had two children and two house moves during this time.
I’ve loved writing every single one of my books, but I can honestly say that I think I may have enjoyed writing this one the most. What’s more, it may well be the book that I am the proudest of.
There were so many different elements to weave in and out of the story. At its heart are the many relationships my heroine Amber has to navigate her way around. Her complicated relationship with her husband, Ned, who she has to leave behind in London when her father in Australia has a stroke… Her confused relationship with Ethan, the first boy she ever loved who never loved her back… Her tender relationship with her father, the man who raised her after her mother was killed in a car accident… Her difficult relationship with Liz, her father’s partner who Amber has always locked horns with… And ultimately, her complex relationship with Doris, the elderly woman who heard Amber’s mother’s last words twenty-seven years ago, and who is now desperate to pass them on.
Although I based the story in Adelaide, South Australia, where I grew up, I only had my memories to draw from as I didn’t go back to my hometown to do any real research this time. I did, however, do a lot of research in the UK, namely about strokes (thanks to Ali Murray from Stroke Association) and wineries (cheers to friend Mark Stalham for sharing his incredible knowledge, and a bottle of wine while he was at it).
As for my memories, well, Ethan’s parents’ home, Lockwood House, is based on my beloved first home in the Adelaide Hills. The property at Eden Valley where Ethan plans to plant Riesling vines is based on a block of land my parents own – and they also had a devastating bush fire a year and a half ago. The many bars mentioned in Adelaide are real, including some I only managed to check out at Easter, well after the book was written – my brother and his wife helped with this research (I don’t think they minded too much!). At my recent signing in Adelaide, three people had flown from interstate brandishing copies of Pictures of Lily, which is also set in Adelaide. They planned to do a tour of places mentioned in the book, including the conservation park and the Botanic Gardens while they were there. I wonder how many people will want to do a tour of The Sun in Her Eyes in future…
I don’t think a week goes by without me pausing to take stock. I am doing my dream job – everything I’ve ever wanted – and I am so thankful that my readers connect to my books in the same way that I do when I’m writing them. It goes without saying that I’m going to be glued to my Amazon, iBooks and Goodreads reviews to find out what you all think of The Sun in Her Eyes!