Jo Thomas – Q&A

Today Jo Thomas, author of The Oyster Catcher, answers a few of my questions.

Tell us a little about The Oyster Catcher.

The Oyster Catcher is set in Dooleybridge, County Galway. Population: 482 (or thereabouts). The last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night. But after the words ‘I do’ have barely left her mouth, that’s exactly where she is – with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company. 

One thing is certain: Fi can’t go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for Sean Thornton, the local oyster farmer, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and a wild, unpredictable boss if she’s to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing – not even a chronic fear of water – is going to hold her back.

What inspired you to write The Oyster Catcher?

My husband was offered a job on the west coast of Ireland, in Galway, to work on an Irish-language soap opera there. We went over to see the place to decide if we would go as a family. From the moment we arrived it poured with rain. I’ve never known rain like it, and that’s after living in Wales. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. I decided that it wasn’t going to work, until that night when we went to a restaurant; a wonderful place called O’Grady’s. It’s an end cottage in a row of terraced cottages, painted light blue. You walk in and the fire is going, the candles are lit, and you look out over sea. And there I ate pacific oysters. I looked out of the cottage window and thought, OK, I get it. If this is what Galway has to offer, I’m in. And from then on I had some of the most amazing meals I’ve ever had, from wild foraged food, saffron sorbet, and the oysters, just wonderful. I thought, ‘this is sexy’. But it’s such a precarious business.  And an idea began to form.  

You won the RNA Katie Fforde Busary in 2013. Can you tell us a bit about the bursary, what you had to do to win it and how it affected your writing career?

The Katie Fforde bursary is entirely at Katie’s discretion. She chooses someone each year that she feels just needs an extra nudge towards publication. I had been in the RNA New Writer’s Scheme for a number of years and Katie decided it was my time. By the summer of that year I signed for The Oyster Catcher to come out as an e-book with Accent Press, a small, independent publisher in Wales. It came out in November 2013. In January of 2014 the book went to number 2 in the amazon kindle charts and sat between Twelve Years a Slave and The Book Thief. By the April I signed to Headline and now The Oyster Catcher is out in paperback. The Chestnut Tree has just come out as a short e-book and my next book is due out in February. So yes, winning the Katie Fforde Bursary certainly started the ball rolling on my road to publication. The fact that I am now a published writer is down to the faith and friendship I found in the RNA.  

What is your writing process? Do you plan it all before you start or just sit and write? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?

I have discovered I need to plot. I start with a game of consequences and then develop the big plot points. The Oyster Catcher was my first published book and so took some time to get right. In fact, an oyster takes three years to grow and I’d say that first book took the same amount of time. Now of course, I work a lot quicker and am writing a book and a novella a year. 

The Oyster Catcher is your first novel. What can we expect to see from you in the future? Can you give us a sneaky insight into your next book?

Yes, The Chestnut Tree is the novella that is just out as an e-book. It’s all about Ellie Russet, who leaves home and her restaurant in the wake of a disaster to housesit in the Kent countryside, the last thing she wants to do is cook for a living – ever again. Ellie’s new neighbour, Daniel Fender, is struggling to make ends meet as a furniture maker. Could the answer to his problems lie in the chestnut orchard at the bottom of the garden? 

Only Ellie can help Daniel unlock the delicious secret that will bring them the fresh starts they need. And as autumn approaches, romance will blossom amid the glowing embers of the chestnut fire… 

My next full length book is due out in February and is called The Olive Branch.  

After a Prosecco-fuelled girls’ night in gets out of hand, Ruthie Collins awakes to discover that she has bid for her dream Italian home online – and won. Recently out of a relationship, a new start is just what Ruthie needs. Anything is better than sleeping on her mum’s settee. 
 
But arriving in Southern Italy, Ruthie doesn’t know the first thing about running an olive farm. And with new neighbours, the tempestuous Marco Bellanouvo and his fiery family to contend with, all Ruthie wants is to go back home. 
 
Life can change with the click of a mouse. But all good things – friendship, romance, and even the olive harvest – take time to grow. Can Ruthie finally put the past to rest and find her own piece of the Dolce Vita along the way? 

I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. What question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

I suppose it’s the question I’m asking everyone else at the moment, if the world was your oyster what would you do? The thing about me is I want to change my job every week.  If the world was my oyster, I’d like to be a sweet chestnut tree farmer, live in a smallholding in Scotland or be an olive oil producer in Italy. I would love to be an artisan food producer, but exactly what I want to make changes every week.  But lucky enough for me, as a novelist who writes field to fork romantic fiction, I get to write about all these things and live out my farming fantasies with every new book.   

 

About the book:

isbn9781472223685-detail

“Kindle Bestseller and RNA Joan Hessayon Award Winner The Oyster Catcher is Jo Thomas’s irresistibly feel-good Irish novel of facing the past, finding your feet and falling in love.


Dooleybridge, County Galway. Population: 482 (or thereabouts). The last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night.

But after the words ‘I do’ have barely left her mouth, that’s exactly where she is – with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company.

One thing is certain: Fi can’t go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for Sean Thornton, the local oyster farmer, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and a wild, unpredictable boss if she’s to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing – not even a chronic fear of water – is going to hold her back.


Join Fi on her r
omantic, unpredictable adventure as she learns the rules of the ocean – and picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom along the way… “

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow, reading this left me feeling really hungry! Lovely to hear more about you Jo and very best wishes with The Olive Branch 🙂

    Like

    1. janetemson says:

      I know, I need to get a copy and read it, preferably with dinner 🙂

      Like

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