My sweet friend Courtney Miller Santo has written a novel, The Roots of the Olive Tree, and I pestered her to let me interview her on the blog.
The novel’s setting is one I believe many people with at least one foot in the rural life would appreciate: a working olive grove. The cast of characters is a matriarch-led family of “SuperAgers” (people over 80 whose cognitive performance is as least as good as that of people in their 50’s or 60’s) and their extended relations.
Until October 16, you can get in on Redbook magazine’s online book club discussion of her novel, here.
Q. Courtney, let’s start with what’s really important: Which of your characters is most likely to be a faithful reader of Little House in the Suburbs?
A. I would say Callie. She owns a store that sells every olive product known to man (olive wood, olive soap, olive platters, olives stuffed with anything and everything and olive oil). She is also very interested in the healing and restorative powers of olive oil. She’s also practical and likely to love all the ways in which Tomato Lady and Ivory make having the good country life completely doable for suburban folks.
A. Maybe if I were as old as Anna I would. What I can tell you from my own family, which includes my great-grandmother who is 104, is that people get smarter about some of the stuff but we all still have our blind spots. It will probably never get easier for me to be the first person to apologize, even though the older I get the more I know I should. There is the tendency as we age to get stuck in our ways and our habits. What I’ve learned from my own family is to break that mold you have to keep trying new activities and experiences. I don’t know if it gives you wisdom, but it keeps you from being bored.
A. If you like garlic, you’ll love the rustic take on spaghetti and roasted garlic. It is the dinner that the Keller woman like to make with the first pressing of olive oil. Your readers might want to mark their calendars, as you can only get the specific type of olive oil (olio nuvo) used in the recipe in the fall. It is a treat if you’ve never had it before.
A warm thank you to Courtney for fitting this interview into her busy day!
If you would like a free preview of the novel, you can read the prequel novella, Under the Olive Tree, for free here.