Coralline is a shy mermaid in the Atlantic Ocean whose idyllic life is ruined by an oil spill that gravely sickens her little brother. Desperate to save him, she embarks on a quest to find a legendary elixir.
She encounters a human man, Izar, who’s left his life on land behind to find a cure for his dying father. He doesn’t tell her that his family runs Ocean Dominion, an enemy corporation whose ships plunder her waters daily.
Fate pushes the two of them together, even though their worlds are at odds. Accompanied by a colorful troupe of animals, Coralline and Izar travel through coral reefs and seabed cities, trailed by murderous adversaries and warring ships. Their secrets threaten to tear them apart, while a growing attraction adds to the danger. Ultimately, each of them faces an impossible choice. Should Coralline remain with the world she knows, including her fiancé, or should she relinquish everything for a stranger who might betray her? And Izar holds a secret of his own—one that might cause him to lose Coralline forever.
Magnificent and moving, set against a breathtaking ocean landscape, The Oyster Thief is an enthralling fantasy destined to become a classic.
Currently Reading The Oyster Thief and I’m really enjoying the setting. Really looking forward to where the story goes! If you’re looking for a new read definitely pick this one up.
Q&A WITH SONIA FARUQI
Q1: How did you get inspired to write this story?
A1: The story—rather, the setting—came to me. The idea of an underwater world fell into my mind on January 1st, 2015. It was a freezing-cold morning in Canada, and I wished I could escape into tropical waters. But it was too expensive to book a last-minute flight, so I decided to escape in my mind. With a cup of tea in hand, I started inventing an underwater world.
The story became a film playing in my mind. I found that I really enjoyed disappearing underwater for hours at a time through the novel, and I hope readers do as well!
Q2: Were you a fan of mermaids as a child?
A2: Hmm… I loved the idea of mermaids but I can’t say I spent much time thinking about them. Now, I love the idea of mermaids more than I did as a child!
Q3: What was your research process like for The Oyster Thief?
A3: I pretended that merpeople already existed, and that I, like an anthropologist, was simply “discovering” them.
It was interesting to develop their culture. With regard to their clothing, I leaned originally toward flowing gowns and robes, but came to the obvious conclusion that such clothing would be cumbersome—the fabric would tangle constantly with the tail. I opted for corsets and waistcoats; they would end at the hip, and their fitted design would ensure the fabric did not fly up while swimming.
I decided on shells for currency and jewelry because some cultures on land have historically also used shells as such. The phrase “shelling out money” originates from such use.
As for light sources, bioluminescence is common in the ocean. The compound luciferin, found in many marine organisms, including bacteria, generates light in the presence of oxygen. For light, merpeople use orbs filled with bioluminescent bacteria.
In sum, I relied on both my imagination and science in writing The Oyster Thief.
Q4: What are your top 3 reads at this moment in time?
A4: I read across genres and love lots of books!
I am enjoying A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain, a lovely work of historical fiction. I am learning from Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, a nonfiction book about networking. Several years ago, I learned from Negotiating with the Dead, a writing manual by Margaret Atwood.
Q5: If you could tell your younger writer self anything what would it be?
A5: Some may assume that because reading is easy, so is writing, but little could be further from the truth. Consuming something is easy, producing it skilfully is difficult, whether we’re talking about food, books, or anything else in life!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sonia pushes the boundaries of imagination in her debut novel The Oyster Thief, an underwater odyssey. She is also the author of critically acclaimed Project Animal Farm, about the world’s food system. A skilled storyteller and speaker, she lives in Toronto, Canada.