'[Susan Fletcher] writes with sensitivity and a delicate observation of details.' Daily Telegraph
'Fletcher writes very well indeed on place. Motifs, real and dream-like, of the sea suffuse the book.' Carol Ann Duffy, Sunday Telegraph
‘Richly lyrical prose.’ The Times
'"Oystercatchers" is a stunning novel…both emotionally discomfiting and romantic; at times puzzling, it is profound, beautiful and redemptive. "Oystercatchers" is the work of a seriously talented young author in possession of one of the most poetic and original voices working now. If she can write at this level in her 20s, her potential is breathtaking.' Joanna Briscoe, Guardian
'Her prose is extraordinarily lyrical: haunted, dreamlike and precise, reminiscent at times of Sylvia Plath…Fletcher's words are undeniably beautiful and her themes are profound…a haunting novel.' Sunday Times
'We love "Oystercatchers"…A dazzling novel of love, loss and trust that has a powerful grip.' Woman & Home
'"Oystercatchers" is a Glamour must-read…Fletcher is a natural story teller whose well-spun stories draw you in from the first page…compelling reading.' Glamour
You've said that Oystercatchers enabled you to get to know yourself, as a writer, far better than you did before. Can you talk a little about how that happened?
After the success of my first novel, Eve Green, I jumped into Oystercatchers with enthusiasm, but it was a real learning curve. I found writing this book so tricky, which is attributable to lots of things: the so-called `second novel syndrome', and the fact that I put a lot of pressure on myself to write to a certain standard. But, in contrast to Eve Green, Oystercatchers also involved living for two and a half years with quite a spiky person (I would choose to be Eve's friend - but I probably wouldn't choose to be Moira's.) And because it is a novel about a downward spiral, it is darker than Eve Green emotionally, and perhaps that took its toll.
When I finished writing Oystercatchers I felt exhausted, as if I would never write again. I just didn't want to see words or do anything with books, or read anything for months! In the end I gave myself a big break, which was long overdue. I went to Africa for three months and it was wonderful.
What sort of regime do you set yourself when you are in the midst of writing a novel?
It sounds crazy but writing this book was the first time I ever had to set myself a regime. On an ideal day I would sit down at eight thirty in the morning and write until three o'clock in the afternoon and then go and do some kind of exercise or just go for a walk. It was only recently that I found out from a friend that that's what Hemingway always advised writers to do. Another thing I found helpful was to leave an incomplete sentence at the end of each day of writing so that I would have a reason to go back to my desk the next morning!
Critics have commented on your extraordinarily lyrical prose. Do you read poetry?
I try to, but no one in particular. I love the idea of poetry, though - of getting something exactly, with the minimum amount of words.
The characters in Oystercatchers seem roughly to divide into two sorts of people, as typified by Moira and Amy: sea-people and land-lubbers. Could you say which side of the divide you'd place yourself on?
It's interesting you've picked that up, because one of the themes I half abandoned along the way, and which relates to this, is the idea of fate. Aunt Til carries it through the book with her astrology and alternative beliefs, but it was originally going to be a much stronger theme, and initially I decided to give everyone an element. Even now, if you go through the book, you can see that most of the main characters have an element. Moira is water, Ray is fire, Amy is earth and Til is very much air, what with the pilot and her love of birds. But in terms of myself, I was born in Birmingham so I don't think I'm much of a water girl! But I have lived in Cornwall for several years now, down by the coast, so I think that the sea kind of seeped in to the novel. But it's hard to say.
Eve Green and Oystercatchers are both concerned with the theme of loss - whether it's the loss of a bracelet, a mother, a sister, or a life. Can you talk about why this theme resonates so much with you?
I think I'm interested in loss because I'm interested in how people cope with it. Though it's not a particularly happy thing to be interested in, it's one of the issues facing us as human beings. A great loss alters the course of a life; you either survive it, or you don't; it is a test of character. So what happens after a loss - that's what I'm really interested in. And in a rather callous way, it's also an interesting device to use in a book.
In both Eve Green and Oystercatchers the heroine is a young woman looking back over her childhood. What interests you about this period in our lives?
I'm interested in childhood because I imagine that a lot of what we are, and who we are, comes from that time. Someone said that our childhood is what we spend our adult life getting over and I think that is probably right. But I also loved writing from a child's point of view in Eve Green, and perhaps that's why I did more of it in Oystercatchers. It gives you more freedom; allows you to be bold in the way you tell your story.
It's said that a writer needs, amongst other qualities, an interest in other people. Is this an observation you'd agree with?
I think we probably all have that curiosity about other people, to a degree at least, but yes, I think that's probably right. I studied a lot of English literature at school and college and I always remember being quite interested in how most people don't change if you go back in time, in the sense that feelings don't change, from Chaucer's time, to Shakespeare's time, to our own time. Nothing really dates; nothing really changes. And I quite like that, that people remain constant.
Finally, can you talk a little about what you're working on at the moment?
Another novel, although it's very early days. At the moment I think it might be historical which will be an interesting departure. I'm only reluctant to say much more because it will probably change!
This book is awful! Its written more like a poem than a novel and I find that extremely pretentious and boring.. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Leah Lally
Fletcher either catches at your heart, or misses you completely in the world she creates. Personally, I love her writingPublished 3 months ago by Sue Oakley
Not the most "enjoyable" read but very thought provoking, and I finished it with interest. Was glad to have read it. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Susie
I started this book and thought it wasn't for me and was close to giving up however something wouldn't let me. It has a strange style, the writing flowed as the story progressed. Read morePublished 14 months ago by F Keegan
One of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Sheer poetry. Every sentence to be treasured and savored. If I could give this book a 10, I would. A book to reread, to keep. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Renita
I chose this as an audiobook from the library to accompany me on a longish drive, largley because I live near the coast (West Cumbria) and love oystercatchers! Read morePublished 21 months ago by Alison Kay
It was written "new" but the book was damaged, I'm furious.
The book was supposed to be a gift for a member of my family, so I'm very disappointed.
A really unpleasant book. The main protagonist is a self-absorbed bore, whose cruelty to her young sister is appalling as is her flagrant disregard of her loving parents. Read morePublished on 29 Mar. 2012 by I. Jane Pennington
I had read "Eve Green" when it came out, and enjoyed it, so thought I would try another Susan Fletcher novel. Read morePublished on 29 Jan. 2012 by bookworm100