Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Jillian Cantor Interview + Contest!
Today with us is Jillian Cantor, author of The September Sisters, which is released today. I reviewed The September Sisters yesterday, so just scroll down for a review of it! It's amazing, and I'm looking forward to Jillian's upcoming works! :D
When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
When I was in 4th grade, my humanities teacher, Mrs. “I.,” assigned us to write one short story every week. I fell in love with writing then. But really, when I knew for sure I wanted to be a writer was when I was in college and I decided to apply for MFA programs, to actually go to graduate school for writing.
Who has been the most influential person in your writing career?
I had a lot of great writing teachers who encouraged me to keep going and challenged me to become a better writer. But since you asked about my writing career, I’m going to say my fabulous agent, Jessica Regel. She is incredibly patient, persistent, brilliant, and a savvy agent, too. Without her, I don’t think I would have a writing career!
How has your road to publication been different than what you thought it would be like?
I didn’t quite expect it to be easy, but I didn’t think the road would be as long or filled with as much rejection as it actually was. When I was 22, I told myself I’d sell my first book by 25. Then 25 came and went, and I hadn’t even found an agent yet! So then I told myself, I would sell my book by age 30 or give up. (I was 29 ½ when The September Sisters sold!). So I don’t think I really had realistic expectations of how tough it is to sell a book as a debut author.
Where did your inspiration for The September Sisters come from?
Once I got into my twenties, and my sister and I actually became friends, I started to think a lot about what our relationship was like growing up (we hated each other when we were younger). At the time I wrote the book, there were also a lot of stories in the news about missing children, and it occurred to me to think about what might happen to the sister of a child who disappeared. How would my life have been different without my sister?
How did The September Sisters change from the first draft to the final draft we'll see in stores?
The first draft was written as an adult book. The story was basically the same but the narrator was 30 at the end, and she reflected a lot more on what happened to her throughout the book from a distance. (In the final draft, she’s 15.). The last chapter was also completely different – I don’t want to give anything away about the ending, so I’ll just say that in the first draft the story was resolved a lot differently. When the book wasn’t selling as an adult book, my agent suggested that maybe it would work better for young adults, and I think she was absolutely right. I think the book works much better the way it is now, with the events happening more closely to the narrator’s age.
What kind of music do you listen to? Do you listen to a certain playlist while you write?
I like music with strong female singers, like Sarah McLachlan, Colbie Caillat, Sara Bareilles, etc. But I’m also a big fan of Jason Mraz and John Mayer. I don’t ever listen to music when I write – I’m one of those people who needs total quiet to become absorbed in the book and the characters. I do love listening to music when I’m not writing, though, and it helps that my husband is a musician/songwriter with the world’s biggest music collection!!
What was your favorite vacation ever? What made it so memorable?
When I was in sixth grade, my sister, parents and I went on vacation to a dude ranch in Montana. We rode horses in the mountains (the first and only time I’ve ever ridden a horse), and something about that really stuck with me. There’s actually a ranch and some horse riding scenes in my second book!
Are you working on another book right now? If yes, are you allowed to tell us anything about it?
Yes, I recently finished my second book for teens. It’s called The Life of Glass, and it will be out from Harperteen in Winter 2010. It’s the story of a 14-year-old girl named Melissa who learns about loss, life, love, and beauty in her freshman year of high school. The book follows Melissa as she sorts through memories of her dead father and struggles with her mother’s return to dating, her beautiful older sister, and her feelings for her best friend, Ryan.
What is your advice to teens who want to be authors?
Read a lot -- especially the kinds of books you want to write! Write a lot. Find people you trust to critique your work, and listen to them!
Ask yourself a question and answer it. :)
What’s your favorite color?
Blue – and lucky me, this fits perfectly with the cover for The September Sisters!
Thanks, Hope, for inviting me to your blog today!
Thanks for being here, Jillian. :)
Now, on to the even better part -the contest! Jillian has kindly offered a signed copy of The September Sisters to give away! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post to be entered. Contest is open until Monday at midnight, and the winner will be announced on Tuesday. The contest is open to the US only, please!