I began writing Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees after a failed attempt to make peace in my family. I wanted the protagonist, Sylvia, to succeed at unifying her family so that I could experience her joy and gratification vicariously. Writing this literary fiction novel was both cathartic and healing for me and it helped me through one of the greatest pains I’d ever experienced–the loss of my once-great family. 

While writing this novel, I grew attached to the Grecos and readers had also told me that they wanted to see more of the this family. So, I wrote Discovery of an Eagle. I also wanted to spend more time with them, to get to know them more intimately. 

The Bird that Sang in Color was a story I’d been wanting to write since the year 2001 when I discovered my brother’s pictorial autobiography or book of sketches of his life. It was pretty magical that it ended up fitting so perfectly in with the other two books of the trilogy.  

I didn’t originally set out to write three family drama novels, but I’m so glad I did. Although all three books are heavily involved with family dynamics and relationships, each one explores different universal themes. This was pretty easy to do because the family unit is kind of like a microcosm of the world at large.  

In my newest series, I’ll be discussing the many aspects of writing about family. Each post will feature an excerpt from one of the three Greco family books. Greco, by the way, is my mother’s maiden name, so it seemed like a natural choice for a name for this family. The excerpt below is from Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees. 

As she sat eating her chocolate covered strawberries, looking out onto the sea, and listening to the waves on this perfect early evening, she wondered how she could feel such a strong and urgent need to move, to start over. She heard the words of the man at the AA meeting, who called himself a geographic, talking about how many times he had started over. She heard Cosmo saying, “What’s wrong with here?” Indeed, what was wrong with here? She was hard pressed to find anything wrong with her surroundings or anything wrong with this day, short of the mooching seagull. Why was the next place always better than the present one? 

As the sun was setting, she kept her eyes on it, not wanting to miss any of the very quick show of the sunset. Once the sun touched the ocean, it would sink fast into the horizon. The ramble in her brain quieted down as the big yellow ball slid down behind the ocean. At that moment, she realized that making peace in her family wasn’t only for her parents and siblings. It was for her sake as well. As the sun made its final descent into the water, she felt a new energy for her cause to reunite her family, and it was pure and beautiful like the heron she’d seen on the way here. She felt determined to make the family gathering happen. She knew that if all of her family members could be in the same room and see into each other’s eyes, they would remember that they loved each other. 


Grace Mattioli is the author of  Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, Discovery of an Eagle, and The Bird that Sang in Color. These family drama books are available from all major online book sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books.