Among the Olive Groves – four years old

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Among the Olive Groves display at a book event

It’s been four years since I released Among the Olive Groves, a book that I worked incredibly hard on and poured my heart and soul into, and it meant so much to me that releasing it made me incredibly anxious, I had no idea if anyone would read it or even like it. I worried that it just wouldn’t be good enough but I persevered anyway, as the story was too important for me not to publish it, so finally after a lot of hard work it was released in July 2014 (Paperback August 2014).

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Holding my first paperback copy!

Now four years on I am both humbled and overwhelmed by the response Among the Olive Groves has received both here in the UK, and internationally and I can’t believe the support I’ve received and I’m very grateful.

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One of my favourite reader photos

Here’s a little snapshot of the amazing things that have happened since July 2014:

  • Among the Olive Groves has sold thousands of copies worldwide
  • Among the Olive Groves has been bought and read in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, USA, UK
  • In 2016 Among the Olive Groves won an historical fiction award
  • The book text has also been used for TIE International ESOL exams in Greece
  • Among the Olive Groves is available in my local public and college libraries
  • I’ve received hundreds of wonderful reviews and personal messages from readers and often see people recommending it to others on social media
  • I’ve been interviewed about the book on the radio in both the UK and Greece 
  • I’ve been interviewed about the book for podcasts in the UK, Greece and USA
  • I’ve been interviewed about the book for Book Club YouTube videos in the UK
  • Among the Olive Groves was featured in a Huffington Post interview
  • Among the Olive Groves has appeared at book Festivals and Book Club Events
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A great reader photo!
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Talking about the book on the radio
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Another great reader photo!

When I wrote Among the Olive Groves I never imagined that things would go so well, it was simply a book that I had to write, because the story was so important to me that it needed to be told. Sometimes I still pinch myself, as I can’t quite believe it happened. I truly appreciate the incredible support, I know I couldn’t have done any of the above without it. Most of all though, I thank people for loving the book the way they do, that means the absolute world to me.

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Another lovely reader photo
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Appearing at a literary festival with fellow author Rebecca A Hall
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Another great reader photo

Among the Olive Groves is a very special book to me and I’ve come to realise that it is to many other people too, so much so, that many readers have asked for a follow-up to be written, so I’ve agreed I will do one (more information below!). Among the Olive Groves always will have a place in my heart and I hope that it continues to bring joy to many more readers over the next four years. Thanks for sticking with me!

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Among the Olive Groves at my local library
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Among the Olive Groves at my local library

A Night of Thunder (Follow-up to Among the Olive Groves)

***Spoilers ahead for those who may not have read Among the Olive Groves yet!***

Earlier this year I made the decision to write a follow-up to Among the Olive Groves, after many requests from readers. There was never meant to be one, Among the Olive Groves was only ever meant to be one story/one book, but so many readers desperately want to know what happened to the character Athena. So, I’m now researching and writing the highly anticipated follow-up which will be called A Night of Thunder. The story will be set in Bristol (UK), the island of Zakynthos and on mainland Greece. I have planned the whole story and readers will not only learn more about the character Athena, but also the brave British Airman Richard, and his life away from the war and Greece. The story will drop in from the moment that Richard leaves the island with Athena and we will travel through time and Athena’s life, learning where she went, who she met and what she did. I’m enjoying the research and have started writing the book already, publication date has not yet bee set, but more news will be added to my facebook group Chrissie Parker Book Group, when I have it.

  • What was your favourite thing about Among the Olive Groves?

 

Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com

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A haunting visit to Munich

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Bavaria, from the coach

Many years ago an old friend I worked with was studying German and decided to go to Germany to test her language skills. Rather than go on her own, she asked if I’d go with her. Having never been to Germany before I jumped at the chance. We packed rucksacks, booked our tickets and endured a twenty four hour coach journey from London to Munich. We eventually arrived after a ferry trip to France and a long drive through France, Belgium and Germany. We were tired and hungry and Munich was in the middle of a massive thunderstorm. In the dark we navigated the streets of Munich and made our way to the hostel where we booked in and got some sleep.

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Central Munich

Over the next week we spent our days exploring the city and its surroundings, we travelled the U Bahn and S Bahn, Munich’s equivalent of the underground, we ate and drank in the Hofbrauhaus a famous German drinking house, and explored the many sights including the beautiful Marienplatz, the Frauenkirche (Cathedral Church of our blessed lady), and the Olympic park where we climbed the tower to take in surrounding views.

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Olympic Park, Munich
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In the Hofbrauhaus with a small pint of german beer!
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Marienplatz, Munich

One day we took a train to the town of Dachau. My friend wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure it was something I really wanted to do, but rather than stay in Munich on my own I tagged along. In the town are the remains of Dachau concentration camp, one of the first camps created by the Nazi’s during the war. It’s a lonely, abandoned looking place with a hauntingly horrific past. With much trepidation, not knowing what to expect, we entered the camp remains and agreed to split up and meet up with each other a little later. The stories you hear of the silence and birds not singing in concentration camp sites is quite true and it’s also very unnerving. Alone, I walked abandoned pathways, past old barracks where camp prisoners would have lived and down the long tree lined Camp Road, that runs the length of the site. At the end, close to some chapels, was the crematorium area, which housed the gas chambers. They were rooms made to look like showers that were built with one purpose; cruel mass murder. Inside one of the shower rooms I stayed silent, trying to imagine what those poor people who had been forced to enter and never escaped had felt like, and I was at a loss. Some say the gas chambers at Dachau were never used, but an overheard tour guide told their tour group that they did indeed use them. The emotion I felt was very real. I was unable to understand how it had ever happened. I felt sadness for the thousands who had so cruelly lost their lives in Dachau, but also very angry, and was I glad that I was experiencing it alone.

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Dachau Camp, watchtower, fences and barracks in the background
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Camp Road, Dachau, The maintenance building at the far end

Wandering back down Camp Road to the former maintenance building that I had yet to visit, I stopped a moment to take in the place of death, that now stood silent as if nothing had ever happened. It was hard to believe that so much cruelty had taken place there. In front of the maintenance building was a lone metal statue – The International Monument – a tribute to those who had lost their lives in this place, and it seemed so little in comparison to the huge loss.

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The International Monument, Dachau
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The maintenance building and International Monument

The former maintenance building had been turned into a museum, and the walls inside were covered in black and white photos of some of those who had been prisoners. Some photos were plain, merely men women and children standing or sitting, a haunting sadness on their face as they endured their daily existence, others however were much more graphic. They showed inhumane experiments that had been conducted on unfortunate prisoners, executions and other things that don’t even bear thinking about. It was at this point that I’d had enough, and could no longer stay in the museum, but before I left I stopped to ask one of the staff a question:

“Why do you allow people to visit Dachau and keep these awful pictures on show?”

The response was: “We are not proud of what happened here, we want to remind people how terrible it was in the hope that it never happens again.”

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Entrance gate, Dachau

The rest of our trip to Munich continued with the usual sightseeing ad exploration after our visit to Dachau. We visited the Hofbrauhaus again, and it became a favourite place to eat and drink, we sunbathed in the English Garden and visited the Viktualienmarkt. But it was the visit to Dachau that stayed with us the most, and remained on my mind for a very long time, my friend and I never discussed it, but the stories we heard and the images we witnessed shocked us to the core and is something that will remain always. It’s certainly something I’ll never forget and in part I agree wholeheartedly with the museum staff. What happened during the war was truly terrible, we should never forget and it shouldn’t ever be allowed to happen again.

  • Have you ever been Munich? If so what was the favourite thing about it?

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Chrissie is an author who loves history and enjoys travelling and days out exploring. www.chrissieparker.com