Interview Questions for Willie Davis, Author Olive Hill…
…about the book.
Why did you write Olive Hill?
My family migrated to Mansfield when I was 12. It was the first time in my life that I felt bias as another “Olive Hill hillbilly” who had moved into Richland County. This was certainly not historical Jim Crow bias or discrimination, but still real to me. I grew up in Richland County and eventually did research on Olive Hill and discovered it had a wonderful creation story that might change some early perceptions about Olive Hill if ever told. For years I wanted to write the story, and, eventually did.
There have been a lot of books written about Appalachia. Why is your book, Olive Hill, different?
Most Appalachia books paint a backward picture of Appalachians and attempt to find reason(s) why they are who they are. Most people in human history live their lives identifying completely with their occupations, ethnicity, their gender, and their religion. Olive Hill, KY has a story like Brooklyn or West Texas in that there is good and bad. There is no ranking, just “is.” People don’t change their mind. They make different decisions with additional information and I wanted to provide that additional information about Olive Hill.
You tell readers that Olive Hill has a storied past? What is their storied past?
The two volumes are dedicated to anyone interested in Olive Hill, KY – yesterday, today, or tomorrow. Olive Hill has a storied past to be proud of. Olive Hill, Volume 1 is the story of the first America, the land of opportunity. In May 1800, where Volume 1 begins, America was a few million souls clinging to the eastern edge of a vast continent. People were moving west and opening up a vast new wilderness. Olive Hill, Volume 2 is the story of the second America, the land of progress. Industrial might. World power. Olive Hill, KY played a little-known, but important role in both Americas. See Synopsis.
You stated in your introduction that you reluctantly identified ten personal truths that had found their way into the novel. Give three personal truths that are in the book?
America’s vision is a work in progress. A vision statement is about tomorrow. America’s Declaration of Independence is the greatest vision statement in world history. No other country has set forth a vision statement that declared its people are created equal, have the right to live, be free, and seek happiness. Olive Hill is a story of Americans attempting to fulfill America’s vision. My fictional Reed family helps move America’s vision forward fictionally, but there is still plenty of work for all of us to do nonfictionally.
The study of history is important. A person’s future is not predetermined; however, their future is impacted by outside forces beyond their control. A person cannot choose where they were born or how they were raised, but they can choose how they live. Better choices are made with a better understanding of history. Olive Hill tries to demonstrate how one generation can stand on the shoulders of the previous generations in an attempt to fulfill the nation’s vision. Our history is a history to learn, not eradicate. We need to learn more about our history.
Entrepreneurship is enduring. Entrepreneurship and innovations are not new. Humans have always innovated when there is a problem to solve. Olive Hill is packed with entrepreneurs and their innovations. They are one of reasons America has become one of the greatest countries in the history of mankind!
You state in your book that there are 339 fictional characters woven in with real historical figures. Why was that done?
People love stories. Win a person’s heart. Their head will follow. Logic follows emotions. We justify with our heads with what our hearts have already decided. Stories are emotional. Good stories involve people, who then involve more people. Stories link the known to the unknown and take people on adventurous mental journeys. Olive Hill is a story of American history. It traces the Reed family over one hundred fifty-nine years of American history, from May of 1800 to June of 1959. It is historical fiction. There had to be some fictional characters.
What did you learn as you wrote the book?
All of us are biased. Yep. Those who say they have no bias bones have plenty of bias bones. There is personality bias, gender bias, and cultural bias. Those midgets. Those Texans. Those Floridians. Those Italians. Olive Hill is historical fiction that is full of bias because our history is full of bias. To deny this is to deny your own existence.
What is your highlight in writing the book?
The first person who read the entire 800 pages of Volume 1…and liked it!
Who is your favorite author and why?
John Steinbeck. He mentally takes me exactly where he wants me to go.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write. Write something. Write anything. Just write. And, read.
What is the most difficult part of your writing?
Using the least number of words to create the greatest mental image.
What do you do when you are not writing?
What genres of reading do you do now?
American History. Such a great story.
Share something readers/listeners would not know about you?
73 years old. Can tell the “American History” story in 58 minutes without stating one date…
Olive Hill can be purchased online or on Willie’s website williedavisbooks.com