Raising Awareness: Interview with Fiction Writer Sal Mason @sallymasonxxx

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Sal Mason strolls into Belthazar on the Waterfront, a chic steakhouse and wine bar on the Victoria Wharf in Cape Town, South Africa, and greets me with a wide smile and handshake before suggesting we take a table outside on the terrace where we can catch the breeze and people-watch. Wearing black jeans, a colorful tank top, and casual Converse sneakers, Sal gives off a cool, confident and fun attitude. When I compliment her on her choice of attire, she says, "I wear business suits all week, so in my spare time I'm a jeans and t-shirt type of girl."

The outdoor cafe tables are covered by white, tent-like umbrellas, and as the sun is beginning to set, the lights come on, illuminating tables sparkling with wine glasses and laden with mouth-watering grilled ostrich steaks, fresh line-caught fish, and barbeque chicken kabobs. After some deliberation we chose traditional biltong for an appetizer, ostrich steaks with chili chocolate sauce, and a nice bottle of Pinot Noir, most of which I drink while Sal switches to sparkling water after her first glass and a half. "I can't do without i!" she says, laughing.

I can't believe I am conducting this virtual interview in South Africa, but for Sal, world travel is par for the course. Born and raised in Germany, she left home at 19 to work in the Canary Islands before moving to the United States to study at the University of Michigan. After earning degrees in both accounting and law, she started on an MBA, but ended up working as a lawyer while her husband went to school in Maine. Eventually Sal returned to Germany to be closer to her parents after her husband passed away, but then she moved to Ireland where she has lived for the past decade. From that homebase, she travels one or two weeks out of every month as a financial compliance manager of a large multinational corporation.

When she's home, though, she is focused on her children and family life. "When I'm at home, I spend a lot of time with my kids since we always followed the quality versus quantity approach. My kids are my best friends. With my son, I play a lot of computer games like Lego and Skylanders, and my daughter writes as well and is my foremost beta reader. And then of course there is the pug who demands his daily walks and cuddle time (he is quite needy). I have noticed recently that my kids are becoming more and more independent which terrifies me to some degree since I can't imagine them being gone one day."

As busy as Sal is with her career and spending time with her children, she still finds time to write-mostly heart-wrenching, realistic stories of domestic violence and other true-to-life, deep topics. Sal's voice is smooth, and the stories flow naturally on the page while raising the tension in a way that tempts the reader to continue on to the next chapter, and then the next...and the next. This year, she decided to begin posting her stories on Wattpad.

Her daughter introduced her to the platform, and in January 2015, Sal joined as part of her New Year's resolution to publish something. "I thought Wattpad would be a good start," she said. "My daughter was the one who introduced me to the platform and is also my advisor/co-creator when it comes to my covers and blurbs. Without her, I would probably still trying to figure out how to add media to my chapters, and she does help me keep up on the latest teen gossip and slang which sometimes helps to make the stories more authentic. When I learned all about 'shipping', I finally realized how old I have gotten."

Sal's book Living With the Choices We Make has made the Wattpad "Chick Lit" hot list, and is the story of Rena, a teenage girl who thinks she has found a romantic, stable relationship with Brent, a sophisticated young man only a few years older than herself. Brent, it turns out, is extremely troubled, and soon Rena is caught up in an abusive, controlling relationship. For readers, Sal says, it has been an eye-opener that domestic abuse doesn't happen only to grown-up, middle-aged women. Teens can be victims of domestic violence as well.

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