Monday, January 10, 2022

ALL THE SALT IN THE SEA, by author TAMMY L. HARROW

 In her first year of medical school, Abby West’s goals for the future were derailed by an unexpected pregnancy. Reluctantly, she discarded her dream of becoming a physician in favor of being a wife to one.

Nineteen years later, Abby discovers her powerful, well-connected husband has been keeping a secret—an eight-year-old son from an old affair. Devastated by the betrayal, she flees to her grandmother’s hometown on the Amalfi coast.

There, Abby meets Daniel Quinn, a former American soldier turned photographer. As she travels across Europe with him, she begins to imagine a new life, one without a controlling and unfaithful husband.

Empowered by a newfound sense of freedom and courage, Abby returns to St. Augustine to settle things with her husband. But nothing goes as planned, and what awaits may very well destroy her.

Review:
A sweeping novel that takes the reader from a malfunctioning coach on an Italian mountain top to Paris to Switzerland and to Saint Augustine, Florida. Full of heartbreak and longing, and romance, but also tinged with the distressing truth of how difficult it is to leave a relationship after abuse.

Harrow has created a vivid, detailed, realistic and compelling universe. 
Recommended as a novel for book club discussion, with fascinating questions posed by each of Abby’s decisions.  Lainey Cameron, award winning author and host of The Best of Women's Fiction podcast

Q & A with Tammy:

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

When my youngest son graduated high school, my husband, seven year-old daughter, and I sold our home in Virginia and moved to our favorite vacation spot—St. Augustine, FL. Eleven years later, the kids are all moved out and my husband and I are still here. There’s no place I’d rather live.

I’ve written as long as I can remember. I was one of those kids that made sense of the world by putting words on paper. I have journals full of poems, song lyrics, and catastrophes of my everyday teenage life. The books, ranging from palm sized datebooks to 50 cent spiral bound notebooks, reside in my attic. Some of the writing is in code I can’t decipher.

What are some things you enjoy when not writing?

I’ve been an avid solo traveler for about twelve years. I absolutely love immersing myself in a foreign country alone. There’s no better way to soak up the culture and really take in the surroundings. But, I do also love traveling with my family. We usually take a summer trip to the mountains to hike and camp. We just finished converting a Promaster van into a home on wheels and I can’t wait to hit the road.

Other than travel, I enjoy throwing pottery and doing any type of art project. I’ve been a photographer for about thirteen years now so I love taking photos, especially when its not required (as in a paid job). Candids of people and landscape are my favorite.

In my former life, I was a pastry chef. I still enjoy baking but I have a fierce sweet tooth and can’t resist cookies. These days, I’m trying to eat healthy, so I’ve been working hard to convert recipes into healthier plant based versions. I love converting savory dishes as well.

Finish this: “I can’t write without

silence.” For the past three years, my neighbor’s have consistently had noisy construction crews working on their homes. I finally got noise cancelling headphones and some days I use them without music. I miss the quiet.  

What did you think you’d be when you became an adult?

A pediatrician.

What is something about you that people would surprise people?

I wish I’d had a few more children. Three isn’t enough. If only someone had told me they’d be so much fun once they reached adulthood.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

My brain never shuts down. I’m a terrible sleeper, so the wheels are always turning with story ideas, especially in the wee hours.

 

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)

I started querying agents before I was ready. I had no idea what I was doing and my query letters were awful. Naturally, I didn’t get a whole lot of responses. Eventually I had two R&R’s, but they ultimately ended up being “No’s.” It was incredibly discouraging and I was close to giving up. I decided to query a handful of smaller presses and got responses fairly quickly. Two offered to sign me.

 

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?

One of the main problems with my novel was that it didn’t fit neatly into one genre. It was a cross between women’s fiction and suspense and that just didn’t work. I ended up having to make a lot of changes. Moving forward, I’ll be sure to stick with a single genre.

 

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a story about two female best friends in law enforcement trying to catch a serial killer in Key West.

 

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
Yes. Plenty. I think most of us writer’s pull from real life experiences, at least a little.

I’m very familiar with the five European countries in All the Salt in the Sea.

 

Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?

There’s a night scene at a bus stop in Sorrento (Italy) where Abby believes she’ll never see Daniel again. She’s spent the bus ride trying to come to terms with his disappearance. She tells herself that he was only meant to breeze in and out of her life to remind her what it feels like to be alive.

 

Do you have a favorite character?

Abby’s new lover Daniel, the former soldier turned travel photographer. He’s been through a lot, lost a lot, and still persevered and found love when he was least expecting it.

 

What would your job of choice be if you didn’t write books?

I’d like to run a home for orphaned children or work in the medical field.

 

Finish this sentence: “If I could write about anything, it would be…”

Deep stories that matter. I want readers to be able to relate and to feel something when they read my work.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Writing is incredibly subjective. Take early reader’s opinions with a grain of salt. Most importantly, don’t give up.

 

Place you’d like to travel?

My goal is to spend a straight year traveling to countries I haven’t yet seen. I’d like to spend maybe a month in each place.

 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you. I hope you enjoy reading All the Salt in the Sea as much as I did writing it.

 To follow Tammy: 

https://www.instagram.com/tammyharrow/