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.