5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Martha Southgate, author of The Taste of Salt

JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Martha Southgate, author of The Taste of Salt
(Algonquin Books)

Josie Henderson is a smart, passionate marine biologist who finds herself face-to-face with her family’s legacy of alcoholism. Not just a story of addiction, this is the story of a woman learning to heal herself – and realizing that you can’t run from what you fear forever.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the inspiration to write The Taste of Salt?

Martha Southgate: My inspiration to write the book came from two sources. First, my love of the water – I wanted to create someone who loves it as much as I do but knew more about it as an environment. My second inspiration was my interest in family dynamics. While alcoholism is the family’s primary problem in my novel, I see it more as the story of how they learn (or don’t learn) to cope with and support one another.

JP: What sets The Taste of Salt apart from other books in the same genre?

MS: There are not too many novels out there that deal with alcoholism within African-American families. I know Carleen Brice’s Orange Mint and Honey, but that’s the only one I’m aware of. I don’t want to slight authors whose work I may not know, but I think that my topic is a distinctive one. And I hope that my handling of it is interesting to readers.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to The Taste of Salt getting out to the public?

MS: The main thing was first, getting to be the best writer I could be, not focusing on getting published before I knew what I was doing. After that, it took persistence – and some luck. Once it’s published, your work isn’t done. You have to keep letting people know about it through forums like this. So thanks to Joey for giving me the chance.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take you to start and finish The Taste of Salt?

MS: My process is very character-driven and for that reason, fairly slow. This book took me about 4 years. Not 4 years of 40 hours a week on it. But 4 years of persistent thought and returning to it and revising, revising, revising. That’s the most important part of the process, just coming back over and over, sticking with it.

JP: What’s next for Martha Southgate?

MS: I am currently starting work on another novel and a few short stories. I’m very early in the process and still very much in the discovery phase. It’s exciting!



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