Today I have author Melanie cantor with me as she celebrates the publication of her new book into the world. I am very excited because it’s a great book and just what the world needs right now, a perfect escape during the pandemic times, and also grateful to Melanie for taking time to do this little bookish chat with me!
Many thanks to MIDAS PR for the opportunity.
About Melanie Cantor
Melanie Cantor was a celebrity agent and publicist for over thirty years. Her clients included Ulrika Jonsson, Melinda Messenger and Melanie Sykes. In 2004, she hosted a makeover show on Channel 4 called Making Space and in 2017 having just turned 60 she was scouted on Kings Cross station, subsequently appearing as a ‘real model’ in the most recent Dove campaign. She turned her hand to writing in 2008. Life and other Happy Endings is her first published novel.
A Conversation with Melanie Cantor
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Hello reader! I’m a debut author so you won’t know a lot about me yet. By the end of this blog though I’m hoping you and I will have become better acquainted! Becoming an author is a second life career for me. In my first life I was a tv presenters’ agent looking after people including Ulrika Jonsson, Melinda Messenger and more recently, Melanie Sykes. But I gave up career part one because I’ve always wanted to write. In 2008, after thirty years it seemed that I had done my time in the celebrity world and felt like the moment had come. It took me ten years to achieve the apex of that moment (an agent and a book deal) but it was worth the wait and the endless rejections. I held on with tenacity, support from other writers and self belief (the latter wasn’t always there but fortunately returned when necessary) Life & Other Happy Endings is a book about love, friendship, women, courage and finding your voice. If you haven’t read it already, I do hope you’ll try it and will fall in love with Jennifer & co.
Where were you raised? Where do you live now? Do you have any pets?
I was brought up in a little North London suburb called Woodside Park. Nobody had ever heard of it back then (probably even now it remains an enigma but it’s on the Northern Line so it’s definitely there!) It was a sixties new build enclave and it felt very safe. I remember it fondly as a time of skipping up and down the street to see my best friend, chatting secretly to my neighbours through our bathroom windows that opened up opposite each other, apricot jam teas, playing in the garden during endless summers and general happiness. I now live in Hackney which would appall my father if he were still alive because he tried desperately to get away from the area where he grew up. His was not a sunshine filled childhood. Hackney is very different now though and I love the eclectic vibe of the place. I always wanted a dog as a child and fulfilled that wish five and a half years ago when Mabel entered my life. She’s an interesting mix: half Frenchie, quarter chihuahua and quarter Jack Russell. She’s my 24/7 entertainment and she has my heart.
What genres do you write on? Is there a particular genre you want to try writing in the future?
I write what I would describe as intelligent women’s commercial fiction. Life and Other Happy Endings is a definite page turner and my next book, Happy Families & Other Filthy Lies (2021), fits that description too. I hope readers will get engaged with my characters, the pace and the twists and turns and will lose themselves in the journeys I take them on. I love this genre and am very happy to sit with it.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you follow a unique way for writing?
My writing process goes like this: sit down at laptop. Procrastinate. Make a cup of coffee. Look at houses on the internet (see procrastinate). Finally start writing, love every tough minute and wonder why I spent so long procrastinating. Vow to change. Procrastinate about change!
Describe your ideal writing spot. When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice?
I sit at the end of my dining table on an upholstered bench seat. I’m sure it’s deeply unhealthy but I’m a creature of habit and feel happy writing here. I have a coffee in the morning and a cup of tea at about 3.30/4. I try to remember to drink water in between. I used to snack while writing (I’m a prolific biscuit and cake eater) but too many times, crumbs have found their way into my keyboard and various letters have become somewhat resistant. I’ve also had to change my trackpad twice – stickiness has tripped over into the workings. Snacking is a very expensive bad habit. I’ve had to give it up. Although sometimes…
Writing LIFE & OTHER HAPPY ENDINGS
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
LIFE & OTHER HAPPY ENDINGS. It’s about a woman given three months to live and instead of taking a trip of a lifetime, she decides to write letters to the three significant people in her life who have hurt her and finally tell them what she really feels. It was inspired by a letter I wrote to my last boyfriend a few years ago when I realised he had been disingenuous and that I had let a lot of difficult things go unsaid. I didn’t want to see him again but I did want him to know how I felt so I wrote him a very honest letter. It was incredibly cathartic. Later, it made me wonder, what if you knew you only had a few months left to live, what would you do? Hence the conceit of my book!
What do you think will be the initial thoughts of your readers while reading your book?
Since I’m writing about disappointment and the need to find resolution, something known to all of us, I hope readers will immediately relate to my protagonist, Jennifer. As we discover more about the people who have let her down: her sister, ex husband, ex boyfriend (the one who got away) I am certain that women will recognise themselves in her experiences and be willing her on.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
The only actual research I had to do was a small amount about HR. Jennifer works in Human Resources so those scenes had to be credible. Other than that, I tapped into my own emotional experiences and hope those add credibility too.
What was your hardest scene to write in the book?
The sex scenes. I didn’t want them to be embarrassing. The scene on Hampstead Heath definitely had an impact because so many people tell me they can’t walk around the heath anymore without wondering what if? And which tree? Ha! I love that.
Describe your book in three words.
Love, friendship, hope
Whats next for Melanie Cantor
Are you working on a new book? Can you tell my readers a little about it, a blurb, potential release date, etc?
HAPPY FAMILIES & other filthy lies. Hopefully a June 2021 release. I am fascinated by people and how we get through life’s tricky moments. It was part inspired by my grandparents. My mother’s mother became paralysed with MS when she was thirty. My mother was 8. When my mother was older she was appalled to learn my grandfather was having a longterm affair. My grandmother however was more understanding and told my mother the important thing was that he always came home. He was a young man. She understood his needs. For me that makes her a hero. This is the starting point of the story but it gets much broader than that. I deal with issues that challenge our attitude to sex and sexuality and human kindness. An overriding theme is the notion of our swiftness to judge. I’d like to think it will make people think twice before they cast aspersions in the future.
Thank you for being with us today, Melanie. Wish you all the very best for the fantastic new book!
LIFE & OTHER HAPPY ENDINGS by Melanie Cantor
Published by Black Swan, Paperback 11 June 2020
Jennifer Cole has just been told that she has three months to live — ninety days to say goodbye and put her affairs in order. Trying to focus on the positives she realises she has one overriding regret: the words she’s left unsaid.
So Jennifer writes letters to three significant people in her life: her overbearing, selfish sister, her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend finally telling them the things she’s always wanted to say but never dared.
At first, she feels liberated. But once you start telling the truth, it’s hard to stop. And, as she soon discovers, the truth isn’t always what it seems. Death has a way of surprising you …