An Indies Introduce Q&A with Allie Millington

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Allie Millington is the author of Olivetti, a Winter/Spring 2024 Indies Introduce middle grade selection and March/April 2024 Kids’ Next List pick. 

Millington is an author, artist, and entrepreneur. She’s worked with children in many different capacities — from classrooms in England, to soccer fields in Brazil, to becoming a houseparent for young adults in foster care. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and a collection of clacking machines. You can find her on Instagram @allieinink or possibly in her pillow fort.

Molly Olivo of Child’s Play in Washington, DC, served on the panel that selected Olivetti for Indies Introduce.

Olivetti is my favorite new middle grade novel in years," said Olivo. "A lovable introvert, a typewriter with a lot to say, and an irresistible mystery come together to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience. This book weaves together themes of mental health, family, and magic in ways that are deeply thoughtful and unique. I cannot wait to get this book into the hands of every 10-year-old I know.”

Here, Millington and Olivo discuss Olivetti.

Molly Olivo: Congratulations on making the Indies Introduce kids list! Olivetti is one of my favorite books for the season and I cannot wait to get it into the hands of kids who will love it and simultaneously have numerous questions about typewriters. What motivated you to write from the perspective of a typewriter?

Allie Millington: Thank you so much! I’m equally excited to hear what young readers will think of Olivetti. Something that has shaped much of my writing is asking the question, “Who have we never heard a story from before?” There were many reasons why I chose to share a typewriter’s untold side of the story, one of them being because I thought typewriters would naturally have many stories to tell (as they’re full of them).

Countless people across history and across the world have a personal connection or fondness toward these charming, clacking machines — and yet, most kids have never had the opportunity to use one. One hope I have for Olivetti is that it can be a bridge between generations, and create opportunities for readers both young and old to share in the nostalgia and power of passing down memories that typewriters bring just by being themselves.

In crafting this book, I was intrigued by the insight a typewriter could give on humanity, being privy to their innermost thoughts and secrets. Olivetti offers a unique perspective on the Brindle family as someone who has observed them and kept their memories for years, watching the ways they’ve changed. It was such an enjoyable experience trying to tap into the mind of a typewriter, exploring their frame of reference for the world, and how it might feel to hold the words of others inside them. They became very alive to me, and I hope that perhaps they’ll feel just as alive to young readers, too. Now I can’t see a typewriter anywhere without wanting to sit down and have a conversation with it.

MO: Readers love behind-the-scenes content. Could you share your favorite tidbit of this story that did not make it into the final draft?

AM: In my earlier drafts, I had a scene at a typewriter repair shop run by two wonderful women — who were actually based off the women who helped me find my first typewriter. In real life, and in this scene, these women are essentially typewriter doctors, and patch up any patients that come their way. They know these machines inside and out. During one of my drafts, twelve-year-old Ernest brings Olivetti to this shop, where he used to go with his mom to get fresh ink ribbon. The doctors can’t help but start doting on their visitors, calling them both handsome and all grown up.

Olivetti rather enjoyed this, being a sucker for any kind of attention. Meanwhile, Ernest was melting from embarrassment. And when Olivetti decided to show off and start typing on his own to impress the women, Ernest had to hightail it out of the shop before they caught on.

MO: Your novel focuses on Olivetti (our brave typewriter) and the Brindle family understanding and working through "the Everything that Happened." What do you hope kids who are reading this and might have their own "everything that happened" will get out of Ernest and his family's story?

AM: One of the topics I wanted to explore within Olivetti was how even though the Brindles went through the same season of hardship, they all coped with it in such contrasting ways. This contrast leaves Ernest feeling isolated, and as if his emotions are somehow wrong simply because they’re different. He begins to distance himself from his family, thinking this is the only way to protect himself from future hurt.

On Ernest’s journey of struggling to open up and let himself be known, I hope readers can see that they are never truly alone in what they are experiencing. There is always someone out there who can understand how you’re feeling, if you give them the chance to. There is always someone willing to listen, if only you speak up. And I hope that in Olivetti, readers can find the courage to share their voice, even if it doesn’t sound like anyone else’s.

MO: And one last fun question. If your novel could be any creature, real or imagined, what would it be?           

AM: Oh, this is a fun question. Do typewriters count as creatures? In my book, yes! But that would be the easy answer, so I’ll try and think up something more creative. Perhaps my novel would like to be an old, wide tree, with roots even older and wider. Instead of being full of sap, this tree would have the starts of stories running through its bark, spreading to its branches and eventually sprouting into leaves of paper, the beginnings of a book. This tree would welcome anyone to climb up and read its fresh pages, or take a nap against its trunk, or just sit and stare at it awhile. The Olivetti tree would be content with simply sharing itself with others. 

Olivetti by Allie Millington (Feiwel & Friends, 9781250326935, Hardcover Middle Grade, $17.99) On Sale: 3/26/2024

Find out more about the author at

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