Sonia Faruqi is the author of, The Oyster Thief an underwater odyssey. She is also the author of critically acclaimed Project Animal Farm, about the world's food system
You'll find from my interview with Sonia that she has a passion for conservation and she educates as well as entertains.
Sonia, for readers who aren’t familiar, can you tell us a bit about your background and process for writing the books Project Animal Farm and The Oyster Thief?
My background is not what you would expect – I went to Dartmouth College and studied economics. I worked on Wall Street in investment banking. I moved back to Toronto with my family, and ended up getting interested in farming and learning about how our food is produced. What I found was that the reality of animal farms (cows, chickens, pigs) is very different than what I had imagined. This is how I came up with the idea for Project Animal Farm.
My second novel, The Oyster Thief, was born out of the wish to get away from the harsh Canadian winter. I started inventing my own underwater world, which quickly turned into creating characters, plot, and a rich underwater landscape. Both of my books are very different, but also similar in some regards. Both required quite extensive research; for The Oyster Thief I snorkelled, scuba-dived, swam with sharks, and read lots of books and articles about the ocean.
What part of the stories was the hardest for you to write?
During my journey through farming and food production, I found it especially difficult to visit factory farms. It was very hard to see the way that animals are treated, from chickens in cages to cows chained to their stalls. However, I was able to translate this hardship into a call to action that will hopefully inspire change.
For The Oyster Thief, the challenge was information. Parts of the ocean are less known to scientists than the moon, and of the millions of species thought to live in the ocean the majority are unknown to us.
How do you know when a book is complete?
After reading it a few times and getting feedback on it.
If you had to describe your writing style what words would you use?
Enlightenment combined with entertainment. Storytelling is an amazing creative outlet, but it is also what you can teach with stories that has a huge impact. I aim to write in a way that educates my audience and facilitates discussion on social and planetary issues, such as animal welfare and ocean health.
What are you doing when you’re not working?
Recently I adopted a rescue dog, Rozetta! She is a very sweet little dog who keeps me busy in my off time.
Do you have any particular practices that help you write?
I am a big planner! I spent three months planning The Oyster Thief scene by scene before I even began writing. Research is also a huge part of my process. For example, when I did research for The Oyster Thief, reading articles and learning how to scuba dive while writing the book helped me to get to know the ocean as a living entity, and create the community of merpeople and animals you can find in The Oyster Thief.
Who is your favorite author?
Ayn Rand. I find her writing beautiful and I love how she combines purpose and art in her works.
And finally is there anything you'd like to tell readers?
I’m very open to listening to thoughts and answering questions about my books, and I enjoy interacting with my readers! If you would like to keep in touch, I have a website at www.soniafaruqi.com where I provide exclusive content and publish a monthly newsletter. You can also interact with me on Instagram and Twitter @Sonia_Faruqi.