Tracy Chevalier's new novel is At the Edge of the Orchard.
From her Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: How did you come up with the idea of the Goodenough family, and what surprised you most in the course of your research for At the Edge of the Orchard?Learn about Tracy Chevalier's favorite author.
A: I was reading a book by Michael Pollan called The Botany of Desire.
In it there’s a section about Johnny Appleseed and apple trees in 19th-century Ohio, and about how most of the trees Appleseed sold actually produced sour apples used for making cider and applejack.
If you want sweet apples you have to graft trees from other sweet-producing trees, and Appleseed didn’t believe in grafting. So the whole healthy-lifestyle myth that grew up around him was just that – a myth.
That was what surprised me the most – how different reality was from the stories about him. In reality settlers were drunk a lot, as it was such a difficult life.
This made me imagine a couple fighting over apples – one wanting to grow sweet, the other sour. The book grew from that. Johnny Appleseed is not the main character, but he plays a small, significant role – basically as Sadie Goodenough’s...[read on]
See: Tracy Chevalier's six best books.