Here’s a little bit about the book…
Jo and Claire Gilly are sisters bound together by the mysteries of their family salt marsh and also by a history with the same man. While Jo, a fierce loner, chooses the marsh over marriage, Claire escapes the curse of the land by marrying her sister’s childhood love. It isn’t until years later, when Claire finds herself thrust back in the marsh with the last person she would have chosen—her husband’s pregnant teenaged mistress—that the Gilly sisters learn that while blood is thicker than water, salt is the strongest substance of all.
So without further ado…
Tiffany Baker Takes the Deb Ball Interview!
Talk about one book that made an impact on you:
I first read Jane Eyre when I was nine years old, and at various points in my life, I’ve gone back to read it again. When I was kid, I was mesmerized by Jane’s tragic childhood. As a teenager, I was smitten with Mr. Rochester, and now, as a novelist, I appreciate the narrative arc and Jane’s voice.
I have a doctorate in Victorian literature, and I’ve come to believe that one is either Team Jane Eyre or Team Wuthering Heights. Generally, most scholars are pro-Wuthering Heights, and although I love both books, I have to say that my heart belongs to Jane Eyre. I think it’s more of a reader’s and a woman’s book. For one thing, there’s no prissy Mr. Lockhart telling the story, just Jane, herself. Also, Heathcliff is sexy, but he’s too much of a brute in the end. Mr. Rochester does have his awful side (the fact of the mad wife in the attic is emphatically Not Good), but he’s not quite as savage as Heathcliff. And the end is happy. I love a happy, if imperfect, ending. Finally, is there any better sentence than, “Reader, I married him?”
Where do you love to be?
Home, in widening circles. Let me explain. The first circle of home for me is my kitchen. There is no better feeling than cooking on a lazy, rainy Sunday in early spring, the kids and husband doing puzzles or playing a game at the table, classical music on, friends and family due in a few hours, and a lovely glass of wine waiting.
I live in the town I grew up in, and this is the second level of “home” for me. I love the hills around my house, the bay when it’s murky and green, all the different bike routes I have mapped out through back neighborhoods, the way the air smells of both the earth and the sea. I love running into family and friends, and knowing the history of the buildings and plants around me.
And, finally, I would say that “home” for me is the San Francisco Bay Area itself. I love that there are parts of the city where it’s still always 1976, that we’re at the forefront of techno-geek innovation, that our food rivals almost anyone’s, that you can go to the opera and kayak in the same day, that we are a weird mix of cultures and climates, and that, somehow, it all really works.
What are the hardest and easiest things about your job?
The hardest thing about writing is doing it. I find writing a first draft to be as terrifying as sky-diving. I don’t know why it’s like that, but there is real, throat-clenching fear involved in a first draft for me. I even sometimes get short of breath and sweaty hands when I sit down to work. Also, it’s really difficult to manage three kids and writing. There are days when I just want to be totally immersed in the world of my book, but I have to stop and drive to ballet and soccer, and days when I want to be at my kid’s basketball game, but I can’t because I’m on a deadline. I think every working mom deals with this constant push-me/pull-you dynamic, though. So I operate on the 2 out of 3 system. If I can do 2 out of the 3 things I should do, then I give myself a pass, and say it’s good enough, damn it.
Once I get the first draft done, I LOVE revising. All the fear (well, most of it) goes away. This is when I start to realize not just what happens in the book, but what it’s really about. I get to go deeper into my characters and emphasize themes and reoccurring motifs. It’s really satisfying to have a book start to come together over the course of many drafts. Also, it’s so fun when you see your cover, and when you receive your galleys and then the finished book. It’s sort of like when you see your baby’s face for the first time. You can’t stop looking at it and you want to show everyone.
What is the best perk of your job?
For me, it’s hearing from readers. I’m always so touched when people take time to email me with their thoughts after they’ve read one of my books. And I adore doing book club visits and calls. I’ve learned so much from my readers. Each person brings a unique perspective, and I’m always really surprised by the things I learn. I think stories should bring us together and make us question how and why we are like each other, or maybe totally unlike each other. Stories not only tell us who we are, they also point out the enduring mysteries of the world. They make us pay attention to the magic we overlook in our day to day lives. I feel so lucky that I get to use my voice to highlight those moments.
What’s your next big thing?
My third book is called Mercy Snow, and will be released in January 2014. It’s about a bus crash that happens in a New Hampshire paper mill town and about the ensuing cover up. When the secret of what really happens begins to leak out, the lives of three very different women are not only linked, but also irrevocably changed. The book is set against the declining fortune of a mill town as the Clean Water Act begins to come into force, and is loosely based on the Antigone myth. I can’t wait for it to hit the shelves! Thank you so much for taking time to read!
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Tiffany Baker is the New York Times bestselling author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County and The Gilly Salt Sisters, out now. She has a PhD in Victorian Literature and an MFA from UC-Irvine. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her three children, mostly lovely husband, and tiny, hyperactive dog. For more information on Tiffany and her writing, you can check out her website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook!
And because she is such a sweetheart, Tiffany is giving away one signed copy of The Gilly Salt Sisters to anyone in the US or Canada! Just leave a comment to be entered to win!