Q&A with Diane Seufert Tait, Author of ‘Olivia’s Garden’

By Shelley Pierce | June 4, 2017
Image by Greenwood Press
by Shelley Pierce
June 4, 2017

Diane Seufert Tait is a violinist, herbalist and author of Letters from Italy and Olivia’s Garden. She teaches classes in practical herbalism and is also the steward of a Botanical Sanctuary, Eden Hyll, in upper New York State. Both her books can be ordered through www.greenwoodpress.ca.  Read on to learn more about Diane’s latest book, ‘Olivia’s Garden,’ a charming story about the inhabitants of a magical herb garden, and enter to win one of three copies.

1.  What is “Olivia’s Garden” about?

Olivia’s Garden takes place in a lush medicinal herb garden, tended by a musician/herbalist named Karen. She is very connected to all her plants and without really understanding where it comes from, has been using the advice whispered in her ear by Olivia the Faerie Queen of a place called Duffin’s Glen. It is Olivia’s mission to have Karen become aware of her presence and all that she has been doing in this garden she has come to love so much. She has even brought new plants for Karen when she has wished for them aloud! A crisis finally has the unexpected result of achieving just what Olivia desires. Mira the cat and Grandmother Sage are some other favorite characters for our little readers.

2. What inspired you to write this children’s book?  Was it borne out of a personal love of gardening?

I was writing my first book, Letters from Italy, when I attended a writer’s sanctuary. During one of the writing exercises, Grandmother Sage and Cally Calendula showed up on the page. Karen is a fictional version of me. I drew inspiration from many experiences I’ve had in my own magical herb gardens. Several years passed after that workshop until I was finally propelled forward with this project by my friend Karen Thompson when she offered to be the illustrator. My grand daughter had just been born and it was time to bring these characters to life.

Nature has always been my playground and I feel at this time in human history it is more important than ever to instill a love for our beautiful earth and all who live here with us to our children and grandchildren.

3. What is it about this book that will captivate children?  Will it instill a wonder for and love of gardening in them?

I have received a lot of feedback from mothers and grand parents who have been reading this book to their children and grand children. The kids love the characters and they love the details about all the forms of life in a garden. I have kept the story true to how things grow, how lack of water affects some plants more than others, how insects interact with the flowers, and how many little animals come and go every day. I want children to notice all the plants growing everywhere, even in the cracks of a busy sidewalk. We have a glossary at the end of the book which shows all the plants with page numbers and a little blurb so readers can go back and have a better look. Several teachers here in Ontario have used our book in their science lessons.

The age group is 3-7 and sometimes even a couple of years older:) It is written in 3 chapters with a beautiful full page illustration for every page of text.

4. I noticed that one of the main characters in the book is a head faerie named Olivia, which is also the name of your granddaughter, who the book is dedicated to.  I’m assuming this is not coincidence.  Does the head faerie capture the spirit of your granddaughter and does your granddaughter enjoy helping you tend your own garden?

My father used to make up stories for me, making me and my friends characters in those stories. I loved that! So, of course the bright, playful, mischievous, and brave faerie had to be named Olivia! Yes, she is very much like my feisty granddaughter.
She lives in Australia and only visits here every other year. They are coming this August and she will be 3 this time, so we will be playing in the gardens for sure! She was already helping me in her mother’s little garden in Australia this past January, very carefully watering each plant.

5. Will we be seeing more books in the future about Olivia and her garden?

Karen and I are currently working on book # 2 which will of course include Grandmother Sage and company, but also introduces 8 new characters – plant, insect, mammal and bird!

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight on Sunday, June 11, 2017 (be sure to provide a valid e-mail address) in answer to the following question:

Which child in your life do you look forward to sharing this book with?

Be sure to include a valid e-mail address. The winner will be drawn at random from all qualified entrants, and notified via e-mail. (See rules for more information.)

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