Sunday, November 11, 2012

Courtney Miller Santo

Courtney Miller Santo grasped the importance of stories from listening to her great-grandmother. She learned to write stories in the journalism program at Washington and Lee University and then discovered the limits of true stories working as a reporter in Virginia. She teaches creative writing at the University of Memphis, where she earned her MFA. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, Irreantum, Sunstone, and Segullah.

Her latest novel is The Roots of the Olive Tree.

Recently I asked the author what she was reading.  Her reply:
I’m right in the middle of Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. There must have been a dozen times in the last dozen years when I’ve toyed with hiking the PCT and toy is definitely the right word for it. Reading about Cheryl’s journey is a good salve for that itch I have to explore and also abandon my highly structured and practical world. My parents live near The Bridge of the Gods, which becomes a destination and a metaphor for Cheryl. It is one of my favorite places in the world and so I find that by reading the book just before I go bed I can engineer my dreams to be of fir trees and the Columbia River.

My children have started up with soccer again, which means I’m spending several hours a week in a lawn chair on the side of the field. It offers the perfect opportunity to pick up a well-plotted book that pulls me through the action. One that I can put my finger on a word, look up, and offer an encouraging word to my daughter or son, and then pick right back up into the story. I’ve been reading Laura Lippman’s back catalog, and finished Hardly Knew Her just in time to pick up her new novel, And When She Was Good. And it is so very good, and so very appropriate to read on the sidelines of a field, surrounded by other mothers. Ohhhh I’ve been wondering about everyone’s hidden lives since starting it.

Speaking of children, when I was a child, I loved nothing more than any book by Lucy Maud Montgomery, especially the Emily of New Moon series, which not everyone has read. But my daughter is finally an appropriate age for Ms. Montgomery and we started reading Anne of Green Gables a few weeks ago. Of course I had to bribe her to read it. She was pleading for The Hunger Games, which I thought was a touch too old for a nine-year-old. So I promised her she could read the first Hunger Games book if she finished Green Gables. We’re about finished and I think she’s fallen in love with Anne Shirley, which means if I’m lucky I’ve bought myself another year (before she devours the Hunger Games trilogy like the crack that it is).
Visit Courtney Miller Santo's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Roots of the Olive Tree.

--Marshal Zeringue