San Diego Community News Group – Pacific Beach author releases debut novel – San Diego Community News


Published – 07/25/21 – 07:30 AM | 113 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Fish Heads and Duck Skin

Fish Heads and Duck Skin

Fantasy and reality from the East and West cultures merge in Lindsey Salatka’s debut novel, which is loosely based on her family’s experience as American ex-patriots in Shanghai, China from 2004 to 2009.

The Pacific Beach resident’s novel released July 20 is titled “Fish Heads and Duck Skin.” Its plot involves Tina Martin, an overworked mother of two. On the advice of a $5 psychic, Tina quits her high-powered job and moves her family to Shanghai.

But the resultant culture shock turns Tina into a totally exasperated fish out of water. It takes the friendship of an elderly tai chi instructor, a hot Mandarin tutor, and several mah-jong-tile-slinging expats to bring Tina closer to a culture she doesn’t understand. “Fish Heads and Duck Skin” will resonate with anyone who has ever wondered who they are, why they were put here, and how they ever lived before eating pan-fried pork buns.

Salatka noted she speaks only passable Chinese given her children were little when she was in Shanghai with her husband who’d taken a job there, and she was “just trying to get by and get food and make sure things were the way they needed to be in my life in that little corner of the world.”

Having worked in Shanghai while she was there, selling imported jewelry from Bali at high-end hotels and gift shops, Lesley described the city, with three times the population of New York City, as “very crowded, very massive, on a scale that was hard to get your head around.”

Lesley said Shanghai also proved to be a city of startling contrasts: modern high-rises next to traditional housing with no indoor plumbing and an ancient culture transforming itself seemingly overnight into a modern society.

“Some people there were communicating by tacking little signs up to a bulletin board on the corner,” said Lindsey. “But then there were people that had cell phones that were faster and newer than mine. I used to ride my bike through old areas with little homes where people were emptying bedpans into the gutter. Those neighborhoods were being plowed under and replaced by huge, very modern high rises.”

Concerning her literary calling, Lesley said, “I’ve been a writer since I was a kid.” She noting penning fiction requires “a different skill set for sure” while pointing out her maiden novel “is about embracing other cultures and embracing yourself” with the novel’s protagonist “needing to learn how to do for herself no matter where she is.”

Of “Fish Heads and Duck Skin” Lesley noted: “A lot of events that happened in the book did happen in real life from my own life. There’s stuff in there about myself and my family, though the characters are made up.”

Salatka described her writing experience as “very healing,” while pointing out “everybody not only has a story to tell but has a story that ‘needs’ to be told. We all need to create and share. We’ve got to scratch that itch, make it easier for people to share.”

Of her expectations on profiting from writing, Salatka said: “I’m not doing it to make money, though I hope to make a little bit. I do it because I love writing.”

Her debut novel took 13 years from conception to completion. “I started it when I was in China, and I picked it up again when my mom died,” Salatka said. “I would say it actually took six years to write.”

Lesley is already working on her second novel, which she hinted will be quite different from her first.

“The first one is the hardest to do,” she said. “The next one will be faster.”


The San Diego Memoir Writers Association offers free and low-cost programming for people who want to tell their story.

San Diego Writer’s Ink:

The third annual San Diego Writers Festival:

“Fish Heads and Duck Skin” by Lindsey Salatka is available at Warwick’s Bookstore at 7812 Girard Ave. in La Jolla, and wherever books are sold.