An Essential Song
Amy R. Saltz
Reviewed and Interviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (08/18)
From as far back as she can remember, Amy R. Saltz has been on a quest for healing. As an adolescent, she reached out for help and got debilitating invalidation in a hospital setting, which brought overwhelming shame and despair that ultimately caused her to try to take her life. As a result, she suffered severe burns to her mouth, lost most of her tongue, then was hospitalized for years with a feeding tube and underwent skin grafting. No surgeries could restore her tongue, and she was told that she might never be able to talk or eat by mouth and would likely be institutionalized for life. Instead, her yearning for healing somehow led her to re-enter life and teach herself to talk and eat (although it’s difficult and limited) and begin to search for connection. Love emerged, as did death. It was working through loss that brought her the healing she’d been longing for since youth.
Welcome Amy and thank you for being with us today! Why don’t you start by telling our readers a bit about your journey to becoming a published author?
One of the tools I utilized with my bereavement counselor and trauma specialist was writing. I began writing a story about my husband Leon’s death and put it aside when I met my next life partner, Ben. I picked up the story again after Ben died, then put it back in the folder. When the bereavement counselor and trauma specialist retired, I picked up the story again to bring it to fruition, so I could thank them while they’re still alive.
What is “An Essential Song” about?
“An Essential Song” is a metaphorical story of love, loss, reclamation, and healing. This book takes the reader on a journey from hopelessness to wholeness. Darkness and light in the forest and at the sea compose the notes of “An Essential Song.”
What inspired you to write this story?
“An Essential Song” was written from an outpouring of gratitude for the healing that I’d been seeking over decades and found in a way I never imagined possible—through loss. I longed to do something to offer thanks as well as hope.
What was your biggest challenge writing “An Essential Song?”
My biggest challenge was discovering a way to tell an honest story that contains sadness without being too heavy for the reader. The idea to utilize colorful illustrations helped me create images that could gently hold the reader with me.
What is it you hope readers take away from reading “An Essential Song?”
I wish for all of us to be able to express our losses—any and all kinds of losses, emotions, and experiences—and find healing.
What do you like to read?
I enjoy fiction that has depth, meaning, and intricate relationships. I like to be able to connect with the characters.
Is there a certain author or book that has most influenced your life?
The book that has meant the most to me throughout my life is “The Little Prince.” I treasure the quote, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” It was thrilling to receive permission from Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s family to include this quotation in my book’s preface. I chose the word essential to be part of my book’s title.
What can you tell us about your self-publishing experience?
It was technologically challenging—especially with the illustrations. I am thankful, though, that there is an inclusive way for people to publish!
What do you like to do in your free time?
I teach and play mah jongg. I also run a music program where we sing for joy. I’m the percussionist as well. In addition, I’m a cyclist. I ride my bike instead of driving my car whenever weather permits. I call myself the ‘wicked witch of the North Shore’.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, about writing, or about life in general?
All roads lead to where you are now.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Let your story flow through you.
So, what’s next, do you have another project in the works?
I’ve been asked to use my book to teach the psychiatry residents at a nearby medical school.
Do you have a website or blog (or both) where readers can learn more about you and your works?
Amy, thank you for joining us today and sharing your remarkable story!
Thank you so much! Peace.