Interview & Giveaway: Salt the Snow by Carrie Callaghan

Happy FriYAY, everyone! Today is a busy day here at Passages to the Past. I have two interviews to share with you today and first up is the fabulous Carrie Callaghan, who is currently on blog tour for Salt the Snow!

Hope you enjoy the interview! Be sure to enter to win a copy of this awesome book via our giveaway below.

Hello Carrie and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Salt the Snow!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Hi Amy and friends! Thank you for having me! I live in Maryland with my spouse, two elementary-school aged kids and two ridiculous cats. I love writing about history because our past provides a record of the millions, billions of ways humans have lived and, thus, can live. Rather than seeing history as a dusty relic, I love it for providing a record of our diversity and opportunities. I particularly love using fiction to explore the hidden, human side of the historical record, and to give voice to people who might not traditionally have a historical voice.

What inspired you to write Salt the Snow?

I came across Milly Bennett while researching a different project, in which she was going to be a secondary character. But as I researched Milly’s life, I was awed by her bravery and her vulnerability. She fled a broken heart by traveling halfway around the world to work for a newspaper in Moscow, and she always tried to balance her hope for a better future with her honesty about the difficulties she saw in human society at the moment.

What research did you undertake when writing Salt the Snow?

This novel is closely based on Milly’s life, as recorded in hundreds of her letters, archived in the Hoover Institution Library & Archives at Stanford. Milly was a prolific and inspired writer, and she put more delicious details in her letters and notes than I could use. Still though, I had to learn about Moscow in the 1930s, so I relied on contemporary memoirs, articles, academic research, and of course photographs and movies. The delight of piecing together locations and stories from the fragments in Milly’s archives was half the fun.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Salt the Snow?

That the journey to self love might be long, but it’s essential and worth the trouble.

What was your favorite scene to write?

There’s a moment when Milly is walking home from a late-night party gone wrong, and she’s trudging through the winter streets of Moscow. She comes across a man sprinkling salt on the sidewalk; it’s the scene that gives the novel its title. Milly really encountered a man spreading the salt in the unique way I describe in the book, and I loved the haunting black-and-white sadness of that man’s lonely work, combined with the hope of scattering salt to keep the snow at bay.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Milly has a complicated relationship with her husband, Zhenya, who isn’t a husband in the way that most of us today would expect. To most of her friends back in the States, she called him “the boyfriend,” but she quite obviously loved him. They have a crucial scene together where they confront the challenges of their strange marriage, and getting the details on that was tough.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have always loved writing, but I don’t think I dared to think I could BE a writer until I was well into my twenties or even thirties. As a child, I thought authors were born famous and brilliant. I didn’t realize you could earn the privilege by working hard (and having a bucketload of good luck).

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I have a day job, two kids, a spouse, a few friends left … so there isn’t much in the way of a daily routine. But I try to do something writing related (even if it’s just reading a good novel because I need to recharge) every night after the kids go to bed. I’m always thinking about my stories and scheming about how to become a better writer.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

For a long time, my greatest challenge was fear – the fear of being mocked for being terrible, and the fear of the mocking voices in my head. But I couldn’t stop writing, so by virtue of persistence, I wrote past the scared mantras flitting through my thoughts. Now the greatest challenge is time: finding time to write, time to improve, time to be healthy. I think that puts me even with just about everyone!

Who are your writing inspirations?

Hilary Mantel is my writing god: she writes about politics and philosophy and inter-personal drama that’s profound and heartfelt. My other writing inspirations are all my writing friends. Being a part of this beautiful writing community is such a delight, and I’m thrilled to make art alongside such interesting people.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager! I think it’s time I buy a copy to read with my kids.

What is the last historical novel you read?

I just finished The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan, a heartwarming mother-daughter spy story (really), and The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo, a delightful look at Renaissance Italy and the machinations (and hearts) of the Borgia family.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I am a big Dungeons and Dragons nerd, I love to bake, and I am a sucker for Depression glass teacups.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

We can use historical fiction to both escape and examine our present moment, and I love that combination of entertainment and insight. It’s magical.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I’ll read almost anything! I can’t pick. And even though I think I’m exhausted with World War II novels, I’ll inevitably read one and love it.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

There’s that Dungeons and Dragons campaign I hinted at, which we do twice a month. I have a long walk every day to commute to work, and I look forward to that time to look at the trees and houses while listening to classical music, an audio book, or just nothing.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I’m working on two different novels both set during the Spanish Civil War. That setting is something of an obsession with me! Though I think once I get both of those out of my system, I’ll be looking back farther in time.

Ohhh..I am very excited for both of those! Thank you for being here today!

Salt the Snow by Carrie Callaghan

Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Chicago Review Press
eBook & Hardcover; 304 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

American journalist Milly Bennett has covered murders in San Francisco, fires in Hawaii, and a civil war in China, but 1930s Moscow presents her greatest challenge yet. When her young Russian husband is suddenly arrested by the secret police, Milly tries to get him released. But his arrest reveals both painful secrets about her marriage and hard truths about the Soviet state she has been working to serve. Disillusioned and pulled toward the front lines of a captivating new conflict, Milly must find a way to do the right thing for her husband, her conscience, and her heart. Salt the Snow is a vivid and impeccably researched tale of a woman ahead of her time, searching for her true calling in life and love.


“The vivid prose of Salt the Snow sets the reader in the middle of socioeconomic upheavals and political unrest with the best possible tour guide, wisecracking American journalist Milly Bennett. Callaghan excels at bringing little-known real-life women out of the darkness of historical obscurity and into the light of recognition. From the first scene, the reader is plunged into a world of suspense and intrigue, led by an unforgettable protagonist. Milly is not so much a character as a fully realized, complex human being: her brilliance and self-sufficiency are admirable, and her loneliness and feelings of unworthiness are heartbreaking. A fascinating novel!” —Clarissa Harwood, author of Impossible Saints and Bear No Malice

“A vivid, well-researched story of a complex and ahead-of-her-time woman, an American journalist, who finds herself—head and heart—while living and working in an equally complex Russia.” —Jenni L. Walsh, author of Becoming Bonnie

“Salt the Snow is a vivid journey through the kaleidoscope of 1930s Europe with an irrepressible and all too human guide in Milly Bennett. Don’t miss this book and its unforgettable heroine!” —Linnea Hartsuyker, author of The Half-Drowned King and The Golden Wolf

“Honest, vivid, and bold in the face of historical truths, Salt the Snow is a captivating story of a woman whose vulnerability and hopeful idealism resonate even today.” —Jennifer Klepper, bestselling author of Unbroken Threads

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

Carrie Callaghan is a writer living in Maryland with her spouse, two young children, and two ridiculous cats. Her short fiction has appeared in Weave Magazine, The MacGuffin, Silk Road, Floodwall, and elsewhere. Carrie is also an editor and contributor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has a Master’s of Arts in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For more information, please visit Carrie Callaghan's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook,  Twitter and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 13
Review at Gwendalyn's Books
Review at Tales from the Book Dragon

Tuesday, January 14
Review at Let Them Read Books
Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Wednesday, January 15
Review at Broken Teepee

Thursday, January 16
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, January 17
Review at Books and Zebras

Saturday, January 18
Review at @gatticus_finch
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, January 20
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, January 21
Interview at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, January 22
Review at My Reading Chronicles

Thursday, January 23
Review at

Friday, January 24
Review at Wild Sage Book Blog

Monday, January 27
Review at @ya.its.lit
Review at Jorie Loves A Story

Wednesday, January 29
Review at Jackie & Angela's Book Reviews

Thursday, January 30
Review at Passages to the Past

Friday, January 31
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, February 3
Review at Amy's Booket List

Tuesday, February 4
Review at Lost_in_a_book_reviewer

Wednesday, February 5
Review at Impressions In Ink


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two signed copies of Salt the Snow by Carrie Callaghan! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on February 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Salt the Snow

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