I am absolutely delighted to be welcoming Jo Thomas today as part of the blog tour for her new book, Honey Farm On The Hill. I had a few questions to ask Jo, hope you enjoy reading her answers as much as I did!
Hello JO, and welcome to Cosy Books. Could you tell us a bit about yourself ?
I’m Jo Thomas and I write books about food and love and believe every story should have a happy ending.
I worked as a radio producer and reporter for many years before writing. My debut novel The Oyster Catcher was a runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the Romantic Novelists Associations Joan Heysson Award in 2014 for best debut novel and the Festival of Romance’s award for best ebook.
I live in the Vale of Glamorgan with my husband, three teenagers, three cats and two dogs. And I love a cheeky glass of rose wine at the end of a long day….
Honey Farm On The Hill is your latest novel, could you tell us what it’s about in your own words?
Honey Farm is set in the mountains of Crete. I wanted to write about a mother with an empty nest, as I know it won’t be that far away for me. So, when Nell’s daughter leaves home at the same time as she finds herself without work and breaks up from her long term partner, she decides to return to the place she lost her heart to eighteen years earlier. Because sometimes in life you have to go back before you can go forwards. But a lot has changed since Nell’s been away. And in order to move on in her own life she has to unlock the secrets of the past locked away in the mountains there.
Your book is set on the beautiful island of Crete – can you tell us why you chose this setting?
When I start writing it’s a bit like walking into my pantry and wondering what ingredients I have there. I knew I wanted to write about Greece, but once I discovered the wild herbs that grow on the mountainsides in Crete, in particular a wild herb that only grows in Crete called dittany, otherwise known as love, I knew that was where I wanted to set my story.
And what research did you make while writing the book?
I went to stay in one of James’ Villas holiday homes in Crete, off the beaten track. From there I spent the week driving out, eating in hillside restaurants, taking in the scents and sights of the place. I visited a fantastic museum in one of the mountain villages, found an amazing slow food restaurant and visited the owner’s farm and took part in a cookery course in an old olive mill.
Any top tips and must see/do’s for people visiting Crete?
Drive up to the mountains! They’re amazing!
Also I went to a traditional village in Chania called Vamos, where they run food tours and trips to see the traditional way of life. It was there I went on a cookery course in an old olive mill with the wonderful cook Koula Varydakis-xanialakis. Here’s the link
It was the lovely people at Vamos village who pointed me in the direction of a wonderful taverna in Dounias where all the food is cooked over open fire. The hosts were amazing as was the food. It was like being welcomed into their front room and being treated like special guests.
I love romance in a warm, sunny and beautiful locations – why do you think settings such as Crete lend themselves so well to the genre?
Crete has all the ingredients you mention. It’s warm and sunny. The mountains are beautiful as is the fabulous sea. And the people are just lovely! What’s not love?! I think it’s important to want to fall in love with the setting as much as the characters in the book.
Most writers are readers first….is this the case for yourself? Which authors and novels would you recommend as must reads?
I love romantic fiction. I’ve read and loved all of Katie Fforde’s books, Jill Mansell’s, Carole Matthews, Wendy Holden’s and I love Fiona Walker too. And of course, anything by Jilly Cooper!
As a non-writer, I’m always fascinated by the writing process…can you tell us about where you write and any rituals or routines you have to aid the creative process?
I love to write first thing in the morning, before the house, full of teenagers, wakes. But if that’s not possible I get in my car and write there. It’s where I wrote the whole of my first novel The Oyster Catcher. In fact, I actually swapped my car for a camper van and you’ll often find me parked up by the beach writing….even when it’s wet and windy, away from the outside world.
Finally, what are you working on next?
I’m just finishing next summer’s book, about flamenco and fiestas set amongst the cherry orchards of Spain. And for a change of scene, I’m starting a winter book, set in snowy Swedish Lapland.
Thank you Jo for taking the time to answer my questions…I hope you enjoyed them!
The Honey Farm On The Hill by Jo Thomas
We never forget the one who got away.
Eighteen years ago Nell fell in love in the mountains of Crete and life changed for ever. Nell’s daughter, Demi, has never met her dad. Nell never saw him again.
When she gets the chance to return to the hilltop town of Vounoplagia – where everything began – Nell can’t resist the urge to go back and find him.
Working on a honey farm perched high up in the hills, there’s plenty to keep her busy. And she will quickly realise the town harbours just as many secrets as she does.
But if Nell’s favourite romantic films are right, there’s a happy ending in store for each of us. All she has to do is seek out the magic of the mountains…
Published 10th August 2017 by Headline