My Ideal Writing Space by Heather G. Marshall – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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My Ideal Writing Space

A little whitewashed cottage on a hillside—hills rise behind it and, below is the sea, not far away. There’s a fire in the fireplace and the desk of my dreams is in front of it. It’s really a sturdy wood table in the kitchen so I’m not far from a steaming pot of tea and a snack when I want them. And the hills outside are there for when I need to get up and away from the desk, stretch my legs, clear out my mind. Often, when I come to a stuck place in writing, movement helps—a walk or run gets the wheels turning again and the solution to the conundrum appears. And I find windswept hillsides and the sway of the sea soothing to the soul, places where I can open to whatever might arrive on the page. I’ve had the great joy of being in, and writing in, such spaces from time to time in my life.

Although I will write whenever time is available, which is far more often now than ever before in my life, and for which I’m grateful, I prefer to write at the edges of day—the very early hours of the morning until the sun rises, or from dusk until dark. I prefer candlelight. Something about the gentle light allows me to dive into whatever I’m writing. My regular writing space has the desk and the candles, and it’s near the kitchen, so I’m almost there. I don’t have the hills, but the sea is a short walk away, and I’m also grateful that my life has brought me to this place.

An email from a stranger tells Alison Earley that her natural father, whom she has known for only six years, has died suddenly. What begins as a short trip back to Scotland for a funeral soon becomes a journey that puts adoption, sexuality, and identity on a collision course as Alison finds herself caught between the life and family she has so carefully constructed on one continent and the family from which she was taken on another.

Shunned by her father’s family, reunited with her natural mother, and reconnected with a long-lost love, Alison finds herself trying to shepherd her youngest child towards college while questioning everything she thought she knew about herself.

When her natural mother uncovers a series of letters written to Alison from the grandmother she never knew, resurrecting stories of generations of women–stories long buried by patriarchal rule–Alison realizes that she must find the courage to face and reveal the secrets of her own past. At what cost, though? And who and what will be left in the aftermath?

When the Ocean Flies explores the pain of separation and abuse, and the power of love to heal even over huge gaps in time and geographical distance.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Blue microfiche, the image yellowed. Alison perched on the edge of the chair. There was her name. Not her name, now. Not Alison. The one she started with: Jayne. Jayne Kerr. The handwriting small and neat. Mother’s name: Mary MacGilavry Kerr.


And Mary.

The tight signature at the bottom: her mother’s signature. She lifted one hand to the screen. Her chest clenched. She pulled her notebook from her bag, copied the name, as though she was likely to forget. Father’s name ______________.

Heat. Red cheeks in this gray basement. She wished she were stoat, or beaver, water creature, able to dive down. Cool, dark water. She held her breath. Held her tears. Who are these people? This Mary? This Jayne? Who am I? Jayne and Alison, like two separate people, with two separate lines of possibility, one body. No father. She couldn’t look at it a second longer.

She pushed the chair back, suddenly taken by the need to burst up, out, back to light and air.

About the Author:Heather G. Marshall is an adoptee, author, speaker, teacher, coach, and traveler. Her short fiction has been published in a variety of journals, including Black Middens: New Writing Scotland, and Quarried, an anthology of the best of three decades of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. Her first novel, The Thorn Tree, released in 2014 (MP Publishing). Her TED talk, “Letting Go of Expectations,” centers around her adoption and reunion. Her second novel, When the Ocean Flies, released in February 2024 (Vine Leaves Press). In her writing, Heather explores family, adoption, women (especially older ones), the natural environment, and how these intersect. When she isn’t writing, she likes to hike, travel, practice yoga and meditation, do a wee bit of knitting, and, of course, read. Originally from Scotland, Heather is currently based in Massachusetts.

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