We’re excited to bring you the inaugural Fork & Fiction Book Club post, featuring our Hannah’s newest book (just released in North America!), Season of Salt and Honey. I asked a few avid readers to join me for a chat about their experience of the book, and even though this is a transcript of that conversation, let’s pretend to hear the clinking of teacups and smell fresh-baked scones in the air. Or you could go find yourself something similar and make it really authentic as you read…
Thanks for sitting down with me, Aimee and Michele! I’m excited to get deep into the deliciousness of this book (hee hee). And who can resist that cover? Okay, let’s start with a simple one…
What was your favourite moment of the story?
Aimee: I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say the surprise involving Frankie’s fiancé near the end! I laughed and cried. It was one of my favorite story twists ever.
Ria: Oh yeah, I know the surprise you mean! The one that was really ironic, right? Is that saying too much? This isn’t really one moment, but I loved Frankie’s first few days in the cabin. How the feel of the place was revealed, and her connection to it. Even as the reader, it felt kind of like I was settling into a big tree fort for the night—an awkward, rustic place, but something romantic and exciting too.
Michele: I’d say when she connects with her sister again, and has a few ah-ha moments on how she managed to get away with a few things when she was a child because the family always blamed her little sister.
Hannah has included recipes at the end of some of the chapters and talks eloquently about food in the book. How did this influence your experience of reading the story?
Aimee: I thought of the recipes as puzzle pieces. I’d try to figure out how each recipe reflected events or emotions in a chapter. The banana bread recipe was too tempting to resist so I copied it to bake when the weather cools off this fall.
Ria: That’s true—puzzle pieces. They’re kind of embodiments of the themes or events of the chapters. Which is a great way to put a book together, I think. It adds an extra layer of texture. I’ve bookmarked the spring risotto—though I may have to make an autumnal version because I don’t want to wait six months to eat it.
Which character would you like to have coffee (or tea!) with? What would you want to say to them?
Michele: Merriem. I would just love to be in her kitchen with her, to be included as part of her family, and I’d want to make sure with all her caretaking that she was being taken care of too.
Ria: I second that—I found Merriem really intriguing as well. I’d want to know about her past—you can just tell she’s got a fascinating one.
Aimee: I’d love to sit down with Frankie’s sister, Bella, for tea and maybe banana bread! I was intrigued by their relationship. The push and pull between knowing someone so well and not knowing them at all that often happens with family and close friends. Especially as we mature into adults. I’d ask her why she came back into Frankie’s life at that time. Was it only because of her sister’s loss or were there changes in her own life/perspective happening at the same time?
This book is all about connections—the making and losing of them. What relationship in the story affected you the most and why?
Michele: The two sisters’ relationship, as there was a lot of thought put into it—older sister and more responsible, younger sister very irresponsible and trying to break out. Those family roles. I totally related as I am the younger sister of two. My older sister was a lot more gracious and protective of me (including constantly defending me) but reading the book made me realize again how hard it must have been for her, and how it impacted her as an adult.
Aimee: I loved that connection too, but I’d have to say the relationship between Frankie and Summer. It made me think of times when I’ve cast someone in my life as the villain because of how their actions affected me, and then later realized that people rarely fit neatly into roles because they have their own emotions and pressures happening, too.
If you could ask Hannah one question about how she wrote Season of Salt and Honey, what would you ask?
Michele: I don’t have a question; I’d just say that I enjoyed the book and thought she did an excellent job!
Aimee: How many boxes of tissues did she need to write the first few chapters?! I felt Frankie’s grief and confusion and cried for pages. The characters were so authentic that I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know what they were all doing, feeling and talking about. Hannah, had you already planned the ending before you started writing the book?
Ria: I want to know if Hannah had the recipes for each chapter in mind as she wrote, or if they came about after the story was written down. They’re incorporated so seamlessly it’s hard to know from reading it.
Thank you, Aimee and Michele, for joining me, and as an extra little tidbit, take a look in the comments below for Hannah’s answers to the book club members’ questions—and feel free to ask your own if you have one. Aren’t we lucky the author can chime in?!
Hi there! I’m chiming in! This is so much fun, I can’t even tell you… The job is wonderful but lonely at times so it is very nice to hear your work and efforts and characters (that you love so!) being discussed. Thrilled to be asked some questions too. Okay, here goes – Aimee, great question and you are spot on – writing about grief and heartbreak is really hard. It’s awful to plunge your characters into sadness or conflict and I am still learning how to do it with courage and grace. As for planning the structure the book, I did plan (in my head!) but the plan went through some significant shifts. Or, I should say, I wrote it, I re-wrote it, I got feedback, I wrote it all over again. But the ending didn’t alter too much from the vision I originally had in my head.
Me again! Answering your question, Ria – the recipes most definitely came after. I wrote the manuscript and we were in the eleventh hour of the publishing process (okay, maybe the tenth?) and it was suggested to me by Miya Kumanagai (lovely, genius editor) of Touchstone / Simon & Schuster that I could include recipes. I was a bit anxious about doing this because a) I am not a chef and b) I didn’t want it to seem “gimmicky”. So I chose a bunch of dishes already mentioned in the book and made them. Several versions and variations of them! Luckily I had already done a lot of research on Sicilian food so I had many go-to recipes and recipe books to call upon. I wanted the recipes to be a mix of easy vs difficult, sweet vs savoury, meat vs vegetarian etc and for the foods to have significance in the story. For example – affagato is Italian for “drowned” which is meaningful to the plot! Really glad you found their inclusion natural and “seamless”… phew! x