Salting my Stories

Salt, we are told, is bad for us when consumed in large doses. But salt water runs in our blood, and it washes the edges of my preferred locations. To me, a splash of ocean brine tastes cleaner and sweeter than anything else.

I rarely add salt to my food, but I do use a heavy hand when salting my fiction. My characters would dry up and blow away like tumbleweeds if planted inland. Living so close to the water’s edge, they all take for granted toes wiggled in salt water on a coffee break or the background rumble of breaking waves. Occasionally, someone might even fall overboard. Don’t worry—almost all know how to swim.

salt france

In my current WIP, Island Shell Game, this salty atmosphere has become almost a character in itself. The way the air holds humidity; the scent of seaweed (dry or wet, depending on the tide); the sound of summer gulls, who could be laughing with us or at us—or both. Surrounded by ocean, my imaginary friends take their salty existence for granted, just as I do—until a newcomer from a less briny coastline actively takes note of it all.

The ocean stabilizes the seasons: warming us in the fall and winter, cooling us in the spring and summer. It makes sunsets last forever, holding the sky’s reflection long after the land goes dark. I’m so lucky to live within reach and sight of the sea.

If I do my job well, I can share this luck with my non-coastal readers. They’ll be able to sniff and see and hear this world my characters take for granted. Devour my stories with several grains of salt; it’s the only way they’ll taste right.