Among The Olive Groves – Chrissie Parker

Chrissie Parker is the author of the fantastic historical fiction novel Among The Olive Groves, based on the Greek island of Zakynthos and in the South West of the UK.  I was so taken with the book – and learnt so much from it that I decided to interview her.  And guess what?  She even lives near my hometown in the UK!  It’s great to catch up with a fellow author when I go home.

Here is my interview with Chrissie.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Chrissie Parker in Zakynthos - Author of Among the Olive Groves
Chrissie Parker in Zakynthos – Author of Among the Olive Groves

BIO: Chrissie lives in Devon, UK, with her husband and is a freelance Production Coordinator working in the TV, documentary and film industry. Chrissie is also an Author. Her thriller Integrate (Book One of the Moon Series) was released in October 2013. Her historical fiction Among the Olive Groves was released in July 2014. Her thriller Temperance (Book Two of the Moon Series) was released in October 2015.

Other written work includes factual articles for the Bristolian newspaper and guest articles for the charities Epilepsy Awareness Squad and Epilepsy Literary Heritage Foundation. Chrissie has also written a book of short stories and poems, one of which was performed at the 100 poems by 100 women event at the Bath International Literary Festival in 2013.

She’s passionate about Ancient History, Archaeology and Travel, and has completed two six-month Archaeology and Egyptology courses with Exeter University.


Among The Olive Groves spans two time periods; present day and the Second World War.  

What compelled you to write an historical fiction novel focusing on the effects of the Second World War on the Greeks and, more specifically, the Ionian island of Zakynthos?

In 2005 I went on holiday to Zakynthos to visit family and friends. Whilst there I met a lot of interesting people, including a local who told me a few stories about what the island had gone through during WW2. One of those stories stuck with me, it gave me the idea for the character of Elena and eventually formed the basis for the whole book. I also decided to write a story that would show the world what Zakynthos has been through, how strong the island and her people are, and what a beautiful place it is to visit. It really is a hidden gem!

The more I read about the treatment of the Greeks at the hands of the Germans – and Italians – during the Second World War, the more my blood boiled. That’s a sign of excellent writing. As your book is historically accurate and highlights the atrocities committed, was it particularly difficult for you to write?

Yes, parts of the book were extremely hard for me to write. There are three scenes in the book that made me cry as I wrote them. They were so difficult for me to get to grips with, I felt so badly for what my characters were going through, but those scenes make the book what it is; a realistic story of the island and what the residents went through during the horrors of World War Two.

The toughest thing about writing Among the Olive groves was that many people who lived through the war don’t really like talking about what they went through. During that time people were forced to choose sides, and some may not have chosen what we would now think of as the ‘right’ one. Some people were forced into horrific and unspeakable actions that threatened their lives and alienated them from family, friends and neighbours. It was difficult to get the facts I wanted, a lot of information that did exist from that time was destroyed when the island was hit by a catastrophic earthquake in 1953 that saw much of Zante Town destroyed. I am still grateful to a handful of island residents who helped me with research and who read the book to ensure the book was as close to reality as it could possibly be.

Literally, among the olive groves on Zakynthos island!
Literally, among the olive groves on Zakynthos island!

Who was your favourite character in the story? Who could you most relate to, or who did you enjoy writing about?

My favourite character is definitely Elena, the protagonist. As a young girl she is faced with the impossible – both in her personal life and on a worldwide scale. She grows up very quickly and becomes an incredibly brave fighter. I have a few of her traits, so I think that’s why I can relate to her the most.

If I had been in her situation I would probably have done the same as her and joined the resistance too, I hate to see people mistreated and I always feel I have to stand up for them. I could never have stood by during the war and watched my homeland being destroyed and my family and friends going hungry. I would have had to have done something.

Do you, personally, have any connection with Zakynthos?

Yes, I have some family who live there, and I also have a lot of friends on the island too. It’s the most wonderful place to visit, the people are so welcoming and friendly and it’s a beautiful place to explore.

Will we see a follow on and discover more about the present day protagionists?

I have received a lot of messages from readers of Among the Olive Groves who have told me that they are desperate to know what happened to Athena. I always intended the book to be a stand alone, but after much thought I have decided to make my readers happy and write another book relating to it. [Bex: “Yippee!”]

Mountain road - Zakynthos. Among the Olive Groves
Mountain road – Zakynthos. Among the Olive Groves

I have already worked out the plan and it will be called A Night of Thunder.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the book will feature, Mainland Greece, Zakynthos and Bristol. We will learn more about Athena, Richard the airman, as well as what happened after the war ended. The terrible 1953 earthquake on Zakynthos will also feature. My plan is to try and release it in 2017/18 as I have two other books to release first.

Chrissie – thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions about your thought-provoking novel. Among the Olive Groves can be purchased on Amazon in print and Kindle format.


You can find out more about Chrissie via her Website, her blog, her Facebook page, Among the Olive Groves Facebook Group, Twitter, Pinterest and on Goodreads.

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15 COMMENTS

    • Thanks Janice – yes, Chrissie’s book certainly moved me, and I love reading about history in a fictional way – I learn so much.

  1. What an interesting genre….historical fiction…and about a place so enthralling to us travelers. Certainly a book worth picking up to read!

  2. Great interview! I love historical fiction, and especially books that transport me to a place I’ve never been. I’ll definitely put Among the Olive Groves on my list.

  3. I went through a phase where I extensively read history and historical fiction about World War II. However, ever since I had children (32 years ago now), I have been unable to handle reading (or watching films) about the atrocities and inhumanity of that time. (Of course, there are plenty of current atrocities to keep me sad). When our sons were supposed to bring a parent to see the film Schindler’s List at their Sunday school, I had to ask my sister to fill in for me). So, I’m not sure I’ll be reading this one, but I’ll read some reviews to see if I can get an idea as to whether I can handle it.
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  4. Great interview Chrissie! I absolutely cannot wait for the sequel! I read “Among the Olive Groves” in just over two hours. Sat down the beach on an afternoon off and just couldn’t put it down! Very highly recommended and wonderfully reminiscent for visitors and residents of Zakynthos.

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