Meet the Characters – Abby Jones from The Dating Game by Sandy Barker

I’m delighted to welcome author Sandy Barker to my blog this week. Sandy is interviewing her character, Abby Jones, from her latest romance novel, The Dating Game,

Let’s take a look at the cover and find out a bit more about the book.


Once upon a time, twelve women joined the hottest reality TV show looking for love. Except one had a secret identity…

Abby Jones is a serious writer. Or at least she will be, one day. Right now, she spends her time writing recaps of reality television under a secret identity.

When a recap for The Stag – the must-watch dating show – goes viral, her editor thinks she should be on set, writing the drama as it happens. The good news: the next season will be filmed in Sydney. Sun, sea and a glamorous trip abroad, this could be Abby’s big break.

The bad news: the producers don’t just want Abby to write the recaps, they want her to be on the show. Abby can’t think of anything worse than being undercover and followed around by cameras. But her career depends on it, and when she meets gorgeous producer Jack, Abby begins to wonder if this job might not be so bad after all…

What readers are saying

‘Hilarious and highly original’ – Julie Houston

‘Trust me, you won’t want to miss this’ – Katie Ginger

‘Original, witty and so much fun!’ – Rachael Stewart

‘Fiesty, fun and fabulous – a lighthearted take on the ‘reality’ of reality TV’ – Jessica Redland

Now let’s move onto Sandy’s interview with Abby:

Sandy: So, Abby, you’ve been writing recaps for reality television for Feed Your Mind years now – is this your dream job?

Abby: Er … it’s er … well, it certainly is interesting.

S: That’s sounds like the diplomatic answer. You can tell us the truth – we won’t say anything.

A: All right then. I never thought in a million years that I’d still be doing this in my thirties. Goodness, it feels good to say that out loud. Though, I should say that the pay is decent, which allows me to save – and give money to my mum, though she tells me not to.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful about my job. It’s just that, what I’d really love to be doing is writing proper articles for proper magazines, not clickbait for an online magazine.

S: So how does your editor feel about that? Prue, I think her name is.

A: Oh, I would never dare mention this to Prue. If I told her I wanted to leave Feed Your Mind for something loftier, she’d probably sic her coven on me. Anastasia is a huge drawcard for the magazine – she makes oodles for Feed Your Mind in advertising money.

S: Speaking of … how did you come up with your alter-ego, Anastasia?

A: Well, I’ve always loved words and word play and when I saw the advertisement for Feed Your Mind, that they were looking for a staff writer, I felt that the only way I could stomach working for them was to create a whole new persona.

‘Anastasia’ is an exotic name – to me, in any case – and ‘Blabbergasted’ was just a fun mashup of ‘blabber’ and ‘flabbergasted’. I actually applied for the job as Anastasia, throwing in lots of alliteration and metaphorical language … it seemed to do the trick. It must have – I got the job.

S: And she’s not only clever with words, she’s also really sarky – that must be fun to write?

A: (giggling) It is actually. I get to say all the awful things that we think but should never say out loud.

S: Why do you think readers love Anastasia’s recaps so much?

A: I think most people watch reality TV to escape. It’s real life, but not really. The shows put ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances – even in ‘I’m Super Famous, I Want Out’ we see the celebs for who they are as people. So, there’s something relatable in these shows but at the same time, we can sit on our sofas and judge the contestant’s decisions and kid ourselves that we’d make better ones.

Anastasia taps into that. She gets to be judgemental, almost mean sometimes, and for her readers – well, for my readers – that’s as entertaining as watching the shows.

S: It seems like you’ve given this a lot of thought.

A: I’ve had to – it’s my bread and butter and as much as it pains me sometimes, when I’m writing as Anastasia, I have to lean into it, the ugly side of writing recaps.

S: It sounds like you have to compartmentalise a lot.

A: I do. Not even my mum knows that I am Anastasia. Only Prue and my best friend, Lisa, know.

S: Wow, so how does your mum feel about you going on The Stag as a contestant?

A: I was wondering when you were going to bring that up. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, you see. I don’t think Mum is particularly thrilled that her daughter is (ostensibly) seeking love via a reality television show, but if I tell her the truth about why I am going on the show, then I worry what she’ll think of me – that all this time I’ve been Anastasia. Either way, I’m selling my soul, aren’t I?

S: Hmm, you are in a pickle.

A: That’s what Lisa says. At least I can confide in her.

S: Any other perks to this latest assignment?

A: Er … you mean that I get a makeover and a new wardrobe? Oh, and that the show is filming in Sydney?

S: Well, those are definitely perks, yes, but I was thinking about the show’s producer, Jack. He’s rather hot … you must think so too as you’ve gone beet red.

A: (raising her hands to her cheeks) Oh, well … (sighing) yes, Jack is lovely – and kind. I don’t think I could have got through that meeting without him. His boss – Roberta, or Vile Demon Woman, as I call her – she’s even scarier than Prue.

S: So, you’ll have an ally of sorts – on the set?

A: Yes, thank goodness. And Jack, he’s … he’s very clever and, he’s only doing this job so he can save money for his own production company.

S: Something you have in common, then?

A: Sorry? Oh, yes! Our jobs – both means to an end … although, I am not quite sure what ‘end’ is … sorry, didn’t mean to get maudlin.

S: That’s okay. Anyway, I have loved talking with you, Abby. And we will be watching the next season of The Stag with bated breath. Good luck with everything.

A: Thank you. Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly.

It sounds a fab read, doesn’t it? If you fancy getting a copy the ebook is out September 10 and print on December 9, You can preorder now:

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Amazon AU:


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Meet Sandy

Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob.

Sandy lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins.

The series continues in That Night in Paris and A Sunset in Sydney and there are two more to come in 2022. Her standalone novel The Christmas Swap celebrates her favourite time of the year, and next up is The Dating Game, a laugh-out-loud romcom set in the world of Reality TV.

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Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your new book, Sandy. I hope it soars!

Karen King – Writing about the light and dark of relationships.

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