Friday, 13 December 2013

An interview with Jo Thomas - author of The Oyster Catcher

Hello Jo it is a pleasure to welcome you to my blog and to learn a little about your latest bookThe Oyster Catcher. Please tell us about yourself.

My name is Jo Thomas and I live in the Vale of Glamorgan with my husband, who’s a writer and producer, our three children, three cats, and our black lab Murray.

Why did you start writing?

I had 3 children under the age of 3. Writing was my ‘me time’. I could go to that place in my head and make it as lovely and special as I wanted it to be while around me there were toys to be tidied, piles of washing, and play dates to organise. In fact, more often than not, I’d drop the eldest at school, the next one in nursery, and then the baby would fall asleep in the car and I’d stop wherever I was, park up, pull out my laptop, and start writing. I got some very funny looks from passers-by though.

So writing was something you really wanted to do and you clearly enjoy it. Tell us a little about your latest book.

 The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas

According to a champion shell shucker, when learning how to shuck an oyster from it’s shell, first you have to understand what’s keeping it closed.

When runaway bride Fiona Clutterbuck crashes the honeymoon camper van, she doesn’t know what to do or where to go.

Embarrassed and humiliated Fiona knows one thing for sure, she can’t go home. Being thrown a life line, a job on an oyster farm seems to be the answer to her prayers.  But nothing could prepare her for the choppy ride ahead or her new boss the wild and unpredictable Sean Thornton.

Will Fiona ever be able to come out of her shell and find love again?

As the oyster season approaches, will there be love amongst the oyster beds of Galway bay? Or will the circling sharks close in?
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Can you tell us a little about the heroine?
Fiona is a jilted bride who hides away on an oyster farmin rural Connemara, despite being terrified of water and her wild and unpredictable new boss. Cutting herself off from everywhere she knows, she learns about oyster farming and the art of shucking oyster shells. She finally learns to come out of her shell but along the way she has to battle oyster pirates, pearly princesses, and loan sharks before eventually finding love amongst the oyster beds of Galway Bay
Oyster farming is an unusual choice for romance. Was there a reason for this?

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 obviously have a love of food and cooking as well as writing?

Yes, I love cooking. I love feeding people. Sunday lunch is one of my favourite times of the week. My brother is a chef and I’m always picking his brains for ideas.  One of my favourite times of the year is Christmas morning when he and I hole up in the kitchen, listening to Radio 2 with a Buck’s Fizz on the go, and cook Christmas dinner together. Actually I love it because he has to be the commis and I’m Chef!

My son loves cooking too and that’s becoming a really lovely and special thing to do together. I think that families and food and love go hand in hand.

I love the memories that food can bring back. The taste of something can take you right back to a special place, a special moment. Like bangers on Bonfire Night, or peppery mussels in a bikers lay-by in Brittany. Maine lobster on my honeymoon and toasted marshmallows on a Saturday night with the kids, watching X Factor.

I’m a cook and for me the pleasure is about sharing the food I’ve cooked, the wobbly three-tiered chocolate birthday cake, or the homemade pizzas on a Saturday night in front of the telly. Food is my way of saying, ‘I love you’.

Thank you Jo. You create a delightfully warm picture of romance and food and happy family life. I wish you every success with The Oyster Catcher. 
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