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BOOK REVIEW: Season of salt and honey

New Zealand writer Hannah Tunnicliffe is a food blogger and mother of two small children. Her second novel is Season of Salt and Honey.
Season of salt and honey by Hannah Tunnicliffe

Meet the author: Hannah Tunnicliffe

Your books feature food as a strong theme. Why do you think food and fiction work so well together?

That’s a great question; I guess because food is so multisensory, it serves as a wonderful vehicle to take readers into a setting. Plus, we can all relate to food, it’s essential to us but it’s also a pleasure, so it’s emotive. It evokes poignant memories too.

You used to work in HR but threw it in to write full-time. That’s a dream for many people; how did you make it happen?

I didn’t have a strategy to become an author, as I had no idea that’s what I wanted to become. My strategy, after realising human resources wasn’t for me, was to commit myself to exploring my curiosities. Anything I was curious or enthusiastic about I investigated and that exploration eventually led me to what I’m very happily doing now. I’m not one to advocate following a plan, as life is too unpredictable and someone else’s plan rarely works for anyone other than that individual, but I am a huge believer in curiosity, taking some risks and tenacity.

You’re a food blogger, novelist, mother, possessor of a beautiful Instagram account… How do you fit it all in?

I’m Jill of all trades, master of none, am often distracted and terrible at house- keeping! Social media portrays a sliver of my life that isn’t dishonest, but it’s just a sliver. Just like everyone else I outsource, ignore and surrender things in order to prioritise other things. I try hard to remember we’re all in the same boat – imperfect, frazzled, feeling guilty and not doing it all well all the time – when I scroll through my own Instagram feed. Life is a beautiful mess of a thing, right?

What took you to Macau and Vancouver?

Work (mine and my husband’s) and a wanderlust I sometimes struggle to keep in check. I’ve always wanted to live in a country where English isn’t the dominant language and Macau fit that bill. It was an incredible experience to live in that particular pocket of China. Vancouver was, as you can imagine, vastly different but still challenging and in both places I learned a lot about myself, different cultures, landscapes and food. All of which winds up, in some form or another, in my books.

Favourite books / authors and why?

I’m asked this a lot yet still find it so hard to answer. There are my childhood favourites (Danny the Champion of the World, Anne of Green Gables), authors who dazzle and inspire me with every new book (Barbara Kingsolver, Patricia Grace), books that have taught me so much about writing as a craft (Harper Lee, Marcus Zusak), and current favourites (Man by Kim Thuy and graphic novels including Soppy by Philippa Rice).

Any hints about your next novel?

Yes! I’m very excited about the next book I’m working on, which is set in France and involves food, secrets, love and a host of charming, confused, hopeful characters. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel back to France last year for research and I ate my way around the countryside. It was wonderful. Hopefully this next book takes readers on a similar journey.

Words by Eleanor Black

Photos by Thinkstock Images and Supplied

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