Jo Thomas Authors Q&As
There’s nothing like the zingy aroma of lemons to start you dreaming of an idyllic getaway. And with Jo Thomas’s irresistible new novel ‘My Lemon Grove Summer’, what better way to settle down by your own pool and be transported to the tantalising island of Sicily? Follow the characters of Zelda and Lennie who look to start a new and exciting life in Sicily but it soon becomes clear that not everyone in their community is happy to have them there….
A setting of mesmerising mountains and sparkling blue seas, you’ll be in your own slice of paradise as you delve into its pages! We asked Jo Thomas her inspiration behind her latest gripping novel…
What inspired to you write the book?
My great grandparents were from Sicily so I’ve always had a fascination with the country and wanted to visit. And there is something so evocative about the sound of Sicilian lemons, and their part in Sicilian history I find fascinating. I was also captivated by newspaper reports offering people money and grants to go and rejuvenate ghost towns in Italy. I thought, who’d do that? Then I thought, I would! If I didn’t have kids and needed a fresh start, I’d do it!
What research/travel did you have in order to write the book?
I went to stay in a James villa, Via Grande in Trecastagni Sicily. It was wonderful! A beautiful villa that was overlooked by Mount Etna. Standing in the swimming pool, looking up at Etna’s snowy, smokey top was an incredible experience. From there we drove up and around Etna and into neighbouring villages. We did the most incredible cookery course, rode horses through the lemon groves and walked the amazing ancient streets of Taormina.
What was one of the most surprising things you learnt when creating your book?
I think it was learning how the ash from Etna is what makes the citrus fruit and the grapes that grow high up the mountain to make wine, taste so good! It’s what gives blood oranges their distinctive colouring and when you taste the fruit straight from the trees, it’s amazing. I never realised oranges could taste that good or that I’d miss them so much when we returned home.
What’s your favourite book to take on holiday?
I like to read books set in the country I’m visiting. At the moment I’m in Provence and reading Peter Mayle. But I also love to have cookery books close to hand so I can visit the markets and cook with local produce. That to me is heaven.
What would be your favourite destination to write about?
I have so many!! I loved writing about Sicily, I but have also just finished writing about Scotland and am writing about France next. I think once you find the food of a place you discover the heart of place and for me it’s all about finding the heart of a place. I would love to go back and revisit some of the places I’ve already written about, Crete, France, Spain, I loved them all. I love Mediterranean countries, but also love cold and snowy weather too!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers and authors?
Write what you want to read. Find a place you like spending time and let your imagination go wild and keep writing.