Where SWEET SALT AIR came from
Most of my books are inspired by things I read about in the newspaper. The inspiration for Sweet Salt Air was much more personal. I have three sons, all of whom have recently had children, and when each of those babies was born, its umbilical cord blood was harvested, frozen, and stored. The premise is that cutting edge medicine is starting to use the stem cells harvested from such blood, and the closer those stem cells match to the DNA of the recipient, the better.
How did my kids know to do this for their kids? The option was presented to them by the hospitals at which they were going to be giving birth. Most major hospitals in the Northeast do this now, though I don’t know if it’s a country-wide practice yet.
But I got to thinking about that cord blood and wondering about the potential. After a bit of research, I managed to connect with a doctor in the Midwest who is one of the leaders in this field. I asked him what disease he thought cord blood stem cells would be used to treat within the next five years. MS, he said. So MS it is in Sweet Salt Air.
Of course, this is only one part of the book. Another is reading, which I like to promote for obvious reasons. Another is cooking. I’m a lousy cook, but I love reading cookbooks. I thought it’d be really cool to have two friends who haven’t seen each other in a while but reunite to create a book of recipes from their childhood summers. My editor was the one who suggested making one of these women a food blogger. The other woman is a writer. Guess who suggested that?
And the inspiration for my Maine island? I’ve been visiting the coast of Maine for as long as I can remember. My husband and I make an annual pilgrimage there each spring. So I was starting to work with my cord blood, my food blogger, and my writer, when we made one of these trips. First stop was York and the Nubble Light. See the red at the top of the lighthouse? I had to work hard to snap that photo at just the right time (yeah, that’s my own shot)!
Then we continued along the shore to Ogunquit. I feel peaceful driving down the narrow road into Perkins Cove. At the parking lot adjacent to Barnacle Billy’s, I open the car door and step out, and there it is, the smell of salt air, tinged with the sweetness of candy from a nearby shop. Sweet. Salt. Air. How not to choose an ocean-side setting as the setting of my book? To live it in my mind for a year of writing? I’m no fool. The ocean it was.
Coming next? Learn about the ingredients in Sweet Salt Air – in plain terms, what research I did to make the book accurate.
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Barbara, I can’t wait to read Sweet Salt Air… Every summer my husband and I expend 1 week in Ogunquit. We love there! Now, I got more excited to found in your book places that I love in Ogunquit…
I have taken that very same shot of the Nubble LIghthouse! And I completely identify with your feeling of peace as you drive along the road to Perkins Cove! And I have a ritual of parking, opening the car door and breathing in that wonderful salt air as I climb out of the car! I think we’re kindred spirits, Barbara Delinsky. I’ve loved your books for years, all of them making the move from southern California to Rhode Island with me and my husband. I can’t wait for the actual book, Sweet Salt Air, to come out so I can hold it in my hands. I guess I’m old-fashioned that way… Thank you for so many years of writing books that make me feel as if I have many fictional friends. You’re the best!
I am so happy to hear this about stem cells use.. One of my younger brother’s has MS… thanks for using this in your book.. Like you I like cookbooks, but I am not that great a cook.. And Maine is one part of the US I would like to visit someday… So now I can read about all of these things in your book. Wonderful.
Thanks for sharing with us, interesting stuff, I’ve always enjoyed how entertainingly educational your books are and am eagerly anticipating “Sweet Salt Air” (once of my favorite scents).
I had a brother who died from MS complications so I am happy tp hear that there may be help. One of the reasons I love your books is because of what I learn while reading them. I never finish one that hasn’t taught me something. Thank you for all the research you do and for being my favorite writer because of it. I went Oqunquit on your suggestion while on a trip to New England several years ago. Such a cute little town. i’d love to go again but it’s a long way from Alabama.
I look forward to reading this book. I have strong family roots in Downeast Maine and love how you explain in true detail the Maine that so many people love. 🙂
Looking forward to reading Sweet Salt Air….Love your books. I do have a suggestion. Please write a sequel to While My Sister Sleeps….follow up on Molly And David….
My daughter had the cord blood harvested and frozen when she had her daughter
10 years ago it is quite a common practice here in Australia and has been for a number of years
She like you did the research and was amazed what could be done with it with regards to any further illness for her daughter or her son as they share DNA
This is one of my favorite books of all time!