Learning about the ingredients in SWEET SALT AIR

I’m talking about doing research, so that I know what I’m saying when I write a book like Sweet Salt Air.  Okay.  This being fiction, technically I can do what I want.  But I pride myself on writing books that are realistic, and in cases where serious things are involved (like cord blood and stem cells and MS), I owe it to my readers to get it right.

The serious issue in Sweet Salt Air is a medical one that underlies the plot.  If you read my last blog, you know that as I planned this book, I connected with a doctor who is in the forefront of research using umbilical cord stem cells to treat various diseases.  He was my lifeline as I wrote the book.  Not only did he give me a ton of information at the start, but as questions cropped up during the writing, I could shoot him an email and know that he would answer ASAP.  Once, he actually answered me from Paris, where he’d gone to deliver a paper!  He really got into the characters and all, which made it fun for me.

But there were other, lighter issues in Sweet Salt Air that I had to research as well.  Take herbs.  I add basil to Buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes when I make a caprese salad, but I buy the basil grown and packaged.  My spice cabinet has the usual dried suspects, like thyme, rosemary, and parsley.  Did I know how each one grows?  No.  Did I know the medicinal qualities of various herbs?  No.  As you see below, rosemary is beautiful and green.  Did I know the best ways to use it?  No!

Rosemary from Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

I had to learn.  The Web was a wonderful source of information, but as I sit at my computer typing this, I can look over at the herb dictionaries I bought at the start of the writing.  And flowers?  Many have homeopathic value as well.  I learned, for instance, that passionflower is a mild sedative and that valerian is used to treat shock, as in PTSD.  Both of these plants appear in the book.  And most of what I learned about them came from a book.

I had to learn about roofing.  Got this from the handyman who was working here at my house at the time.

I had to learn about Chicago.  Used the Web for that.  Same with learning about the Aran Isles.

When it came to learning how one becomes a blogger, I contacted the friend of a friend, who is one, and she told me.

And little details, like the offerings of the small coastal town of Rockland, Maine?  Online as well. Rarely did a day pass when I didn’t Google one or two or three things!

Did I get everything right in the book?  Of course not. Sometimes the world changes between when I do my research and when the book comes out. For instance, as I wrote Sweet Salt Air, umbilical cord stem cell transplants were a character’s great hope.  It could be that next year they’ll be disproved for this purpose.  Or that a new and better method is found for putting shingles on a roof.  Or that one of the herbs I tout in Sweet Salt Air is found to cause a drastic reaction in allergy-prone children.

I’m human.  I make mistakes.  Please know, though, that I always try my best.

Next blog?  Favorite character in Sweet Salt Air.  Favorite scene.  Favorite food.

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  1. Janet Warren on May 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Interesting, Barbara. I’ve got it ordered from Amazon. We have no book stores in our county, and I can’t drive much so I use Amazon or I wouldn’t be able to enjoy your stories.

  2. Lucille M. Jones on May 29, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Barbara, Thank you for doing all the research re. stem cells, certain herbs, details about. Rockland, Maine and Chicago. I will be looking for Sweet Salt Air at my local library in Large Print. Now that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be Large Print Books are truly a blessing!

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