Heather G. Marshall

GENRE:  Women's Fiction

An email from a stranger tells Alison Earley that her natural father, whom she has known for only six years, has died suddenly. What begins as a short trip back to Scotland for a funeral soon becomes a journey that puts adoption, sexuality, and identity on a collision course as Alison finds herself caught between the life and family she has so carefully constructed on one continent and the family from which she was taken on another.

Shunned by her father's family, reunited with her natural mother, and reconnected with a long-lost love, Alison finds herself trying to shepherd her youngest child towards college while questioning everything she thought she knew about herself.

When her natural mother uncovers a series of letters written to Alison from the grandmother she never knew, resurrecting stories of generations of women--stories long buried by patriarchal rule--Alison realizes that she must find the courage to face and reveal the secrets of her own past. At what cost, though? And who and what will be left in the aftermath?

When the Ocean Flies explores the pain of separation and abuse, and the power of love to heal even over huge gaps in time and geographical distance.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Strange to think I’ve been walking this earth, turning face to sky, swimming in the waters for over three quarters of a century. So much has changed, and yet, so little. Women gained the right to vote just before I arrived in this life. We went out in droves to do the work our men had done while they went off to fight the Germans. And then we returned to our homes and our children, expected to return to the way things had always been. That’s what they say—it has always been that way. But I know, and you do as well, that it hasn’t always. Still, we returned to a way of life that denied women like Mary their right to claim their own child unless they had the benefit of a man’s ring on their hand. 

Now, in the infancy of a new century, we find footing in a world built by the men who came before, still with much of our truth buried, fossils of the soul. 

I did not fully realize how much of that I’d done to myself until after Hamish died. He was a good man. It wasn’t even conscious that I held myself in for him. I loved him. Did as I was told to do. After his death, though, I felt myself begin to unfurl. I returned to reading the cards, returned to reading the air and the sky. Began to find my voice in paint and canvas and here, on these pages.

About the Author:

Heather G. Marshall is an adoptee, author, speaker, teacher, coach, and traveler. Her short fiction has been published in a variety of journals, including Black Middens: New Writing Scotland, and Quarried, an anthology of the best of three decades of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. Her first novel, The Thorn Tree, released in 2014 (MP Publishing). Her TED talk, “Letting Go of Expectations,” centers around her adoption and reunion. Her second novel, When the Ocean Flies, released in February 2024 (Vine Leaves Press). In her writing, Heather explores family, adoption, women (especially older ones), the natural environment, and how these intersect. When she isn’t writing, she likes to hike, travel, practice yoga and meditation, do a wee bit of knitting, and, of course, read. Originally from Scotland, Heather is currently based in Massachusetts.

Q&A With the Author: 

What was your inspiration for writing this book? 

I’m an adoptee. I found my biological parents when I was in my 30s. The reunion process brought up lots of questions for me—who am I and what even makes me who I am? How true is the narrative that we believe about ourselves—the one we are given by the people we grow up amid, by time and place? Can we change it? Insert a plot twist? 

I read a lot about the adoption experience from the adoptee perspective, and I knew I wanted to write about it, too, but that I wanted something larger (and more compelling) than my own life. I wanted to write fiction, not memoir.

I wanted to explore who we are as individuals and women, what causes us to alter ourselves for the promise of acceptance and belonging, how we can connect even over huge gaps in time and geographical distance, and how we might heal and live full and satisfying lives. 

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? 

I did a lot of research into women’s history, particularly in Scotland, and I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect. Weaving some of the elements and stories of strong women through the ages into the novel was very satisfying.

Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about? 

I’m working on a few projects—some creative nonfiction and essays surrounding the themes being an adoptee, choosing a soul-satisfying life, late-life coming-of-age; I’m also working on a new novel that includes one of the characters from When the Ocean Flies. She’s not at a nice person in the book, but it turns out she has had her own challenges and has a few secrets that have contributed to who she becomes and how she behaves in the novel

Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future? 

In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, I have some workshops, and maybe a retreat or two planned. These are mindful writing workshops designed for two key populations: adult adoptees who are exploring their own adoption stories and women who seek change that will lead them to more authentic, soul-satisfying lives. 

Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you for taking time to read this, and if you’ve read any of my novels or stories or Substack posts, I’m deeply grateful and I’d love to hear from you!

Links to Heather’s socials

Website: https://heathergmarshall.com

Substack: https://heathergmarshall.substack.com

Instagram: @heather_g_marshall  https://www.instagram.com/heather_g_marshall

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heather.marshall.3956

Buy links for When the Ocean Flies

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/p/books/when-the-ocean-flies-heather-g-marshall/20885419

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/When-Ocean-Flies-Heather-Marshall/dp/3988320455/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3GF4RZ028WIA&keywords=when+the+ocean+flies+heather+g+marshall&qid=1708029183&sprefix=when+the+ocean+flies%2Caps%2C103&sr=8-1

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/when-the-ocean-flies/heather-g-marshall/9783988320452

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-the-ocean-flies-heather-g-marshall/1144381375



Heather G. Marshall will award a randomly drawn winner a $20 Amazon/BN GC.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you for hosting WHEN THE OCEAN FLIES today.

  2. The cover looks good. I would enjoy reading this one.

  3. Love the title. I enjoyed reading the excerpt.

  4. I like the title too and the location.

  5. Allison sounds like an amazing character. I would love to read her story.

  6. The title just draws me in - on my TBR list.

  7. Thanks for hosting WHEN THE OCEAN FLIES and for the interview!

  8. My daughter-in-law is an adoptee and still has trouble dealing with the fact that she doesn't know her birth parents. She's afraid that finding them will upset her adopted parents. Reading about this subject would be helpful for her.

  9. This looks like a fantastic read. Thanks for sharing.


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