Jillian Cantor is the author of two amazing YA books- The September Sisters (2009) and The Life of Glass ( February 2010)- and an adult one that I haven't had the pleasure of reading yet- The Transformation of Things (Fall 2010). She currently resides in Arizona with her husband and two sons. Though without a further ado, here's my interview with the lovely Jillian!
Can you describe you newest novel The Life of Glass in three words?
That’s tough! Life of glass? Just kidding!! How about: beauty, love, family.
Can you describe you main character Melissa in one sentence. Also, are you similar to her in any ways?
Melissa is a strong character who is less concerned with “being beautiful” than being loved, but she comes to learn that her idea of true beauty is different than she once thought, and so is her idea of true love.
I am similar to Melissa in that when I was in high school, I always thought of myself as the smart girl, rather than the pretty girl. I was not one of those very polished girls on the cheerleading team who always wore designer clothes and had perfect hair. No, I was the girl in jeans and a sweat shirt, with the too-frizzy hair. I valued real friendships over being popular, and though I never had a guy best friend like Ryan in the book, I always did have some pretty close friendships with guys in high school, and one of those friendships did actually turn into relationship (and that guy is now my husband!)
How did the title The Life of Glass come to be?
It originated from the last thing that Melissa’s father ever told her, that the life of glass is a million years. It’s an idea that Melissa comes back to a lot in the book, the fact that glass is so fragile and yet it lives so long, and that people seem so much stronger, yet they die so easily. I had two title ideas for the book – this one and BEAUTIFUL. I gave both options to my editor and my agent, and they both agreed that The Life of Glass was the better title, more unique.
Is there anything you hope readers of The Life of Glass take from it?
Well, of course I hope they enjoy it, and that they come to love Melissa as much as I do. But if you’re asking if there’s anything I would want readers to take from it on a grander scale, I guess it would be that they would think about their ideas of beauty and what it means to be beautiful. There is so much value placed on being “beautiful” and being thin in our society (and so much pressure on women from TV and mass media to live up to these impossible ideals), but I think in reality, there are so many different definitions of what it actually means to be beautiful.
Did The Life of Glass change in any big ways from first draft to final copy?
Not in any big ways, no. This book came to me from start to finish, piece by piece, as I was writing it, and when I was done it was nearly (and amazingly!) all in tact. I actually changed very little in the editing process, aside from some dialogue tweaking and a bit of cutting and pasting in the first few chapters. Really, the only thing I can think that I changed that is big enough to be interesting, is that I did end up adding a chapter near the end to give a little more closure about who Sally really was. In the original draft, I left this up in the air, but my editor thought readers would want an answer!
How does it feel knowing your books are in bookstores?
I have to say, it’s definitely strange walking into my local store and seeing it there on the shelf, and I don’t know if it’s something I’ll ever get used to! I took my kids to the library the other day, and I saw The September Sisters out on the shelf, and for some reason, that wowed me even more. I was a big checker-outer of library books when I was a teen!
You blog over at The Novel Girls with four other writers which leaves me to wonder what your experience has been like working with all those talented authors.
It’s been amazing! Writing is sometimes such a solitary profession that it’s great to be connected with four other women who are doing the exact same thing I’m doing at the exact same time. Before I had a book published, I was doing what I was doing now, writing and trying to navigate the publishing world, but I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of or ask for advice or compare stories with. It’s such a great support system.
What part of the writing process is the most challenging for you?
For me, it’s when I have a manuscript that’s done but isn’t totally working, for whatever reason. It’s always hard to try and figure out how to revise it to fix the problems without totally squashing anything that’s already good about it.
What’s your favorite thing about being an author? Least?
My favorite part is the writing itself. Sitting down every day, telling a story, letting the story blossom in my mind and consume my thoughts, and getting it down on the page. My least favorite parts have more to do with the business side of publishing, waiting (and driving myself crazy with what-ifs) while a manuscript is out on submission with an editor, and getting rejection letters.
What’s a really good book you’ve read recently?
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. It’s probably the first middle-grade book I’ve read since I was in middle school myself, but also one of the best books I’ve read in the past year and definitely not just for middle grade readers. I gave it to my mom to read when I was done, and she loved it, too! It was beautifully written, I loved the characters, and the ending was twisty and perfectly executed, something that I admire almost more than anything else in a book.
What’s your typical day like?
Very glamorous. (Not really!) I get up, do lots of “mom” stuff (take my older son to school/pick him up, play with my younger son, do laundry, clean my kitchen, etc.) In the afternoon I usually write for an hour or two when my kids are napping. Then I do more mom stuff, make dinner, get the kids ready for bed, and then I usually write for a few more hours after my kids go to bed. If I’m on a deadline to get stuff done, I’ll squeeze more writing in before and after dinner when my husband is home and extra on the weekends.
My debut book for adults, THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS, is going to be out this coming fall. It tells the story of a woman who, in glimpsing the intimate lives of her loved ones, is able to illuminate the half-truths in her own life. On the YA front, I just finished revising a book that’s a love story which takes place against the backdrop of illegal immigration on the US/Mexico border. Cross your fingers for me that it will soon find a good home!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Lauren, and for kicking off my blog tour! The Life of Glass will be out on February 9, 2010, and you can find more about me and the book on my website: http://www.jilliancantor.com/
Thanks so much, Jillian!
To continue on with this blog tour check out Shelf Elf tommorow as well as the full blog tour list!
And now for the contest info:
Enter to win free copies of Jillian Cantor's books and cool prizes! One grand prize winner will receive two glass spirit stones (one for you, one for a friend) from Arizona, where THE LIFE OF GLASS is set, along with an autographed copy of each of Jillian's novels: THE LIFE OF GLASS and THE SEPTEMBER SISTERS. Two lucky runners-up will receive a signed copy of THE LIFE OF GLASS. To be eligible, send an email to email@example.com with the subject line "The Life of Glass Giveaway". All e-mail entries must be received by midnight (PST) on February 14, 2010. The winners will be selected at random on February 15, 2010. Be sure to include your name and e-mail address with your entry (If you're under age 13, give your parent's contact info). One entry per person. Jillian Cantor's complete blog tour schedule can be found at www.jilliancantor.com. Good luck!
I hope everyone enters and good luck to those who do. You'll certainly be in for a great read if you do win The September Sisters and/or The Life of Glass!
Here books on Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Indie Bound.