by Jillian Cantor
Melissa's father died nearly two years ago in April. The last words he spoke were spoken to her and involved a small piece of glass she found in The Wash – a nearby dried up riverbed. Now her life is changing. A new girl moves into town – Courtney and becomes a close friend. The only problem – she likes Melissa's best friend Ryan and he's a bit taken with her as well. Her mother is now dating again and the guy may be younger but her mother seems to be taken with the man. Melissa's older sister Ashley is the same old annoying older sister – never giving her a ride to school and calling her the "imp" whenever talking to her friends. All this and it's her freshman year of high school. But a few different events change the life of Melissa and those around her, will their family work through it in the end?
The Life of Glass is a gorgeously written book about one girl's journey into coming into her own. Melissa is driven by what she enjoys, but she doesn't fully recognize herself for who she is yet. When Ryan gets pulled away from her, she finds that her feelings for him are deeper than friendship but she rather have him by her side in any way possible than not at all. None of the characters are really two-faced. Yes, there's some pettiness involved in the book – her sister being popular and hanging out with the crowd that is snobbish and self-centered. But there's a little more to each of them, a bit of depth.
The point of view of this book is really something else. You get this foggy sense of Melissa's personality and as the novel unfolds, it becomes clearer and clearer – like you are taking the journey with her into realizing who she really is. I like the realism, the interesting characters, and the overall story of this novel and I will definitely be picking up more of Jillian's novels in the future.
Where did the inspiration for Life of Glass come from? There were a few sources of inspiration, actually. The first was that just before I started writing the book my grandfather died. He was really the first person in my life who I was close to that died, so I sort of took that experience and from that, created Melissa, who was still searching for answers after her father’s death. The other source of inspiration was just this image I had kicking around in my brain for a while of a teenage girl riding her bike through a desert wash while wearing a prom dress. This image never actually made it into the book, but it was the source of inspiration for Melissa and what kind of girl she was – someone who would not be afraid to ruin a dress by riding her bike in it!
Are there any characters in Life of Glass that were built off your own personality and/or experiences? Not really, no, in terms of the personality. There are some similarities between Melissa and me and our feelings about beauty in general, but she really wasn’t built off my personality at all. As for experiences, I did include the character of the grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease because I was/am going through a similar experience with my own grandmother. Just around the time I started writing the book, I’d begun to find it very tough to talk to my grandmother because she couldn’t remember anything from one minute to the next. It struck me the way that our memory encompasses so much of who we are. For Melissa, who feels like everyone’s left her behind, this felt like a particularly important character to include – a grandmother who has literally forgotten her.
Are there any times where you feel unmotivated to write? How do you get back on track if this happens? Honestly, it’s not usually motivation that’s the problem but time-management. I almost always want to write, but I have to squeeze it in when my kids are sleeping, so usually it’s more an issue of making sure I sit down and do it, even if there are other things that need to get done around the house or if I’m tired. I’m a pretty self-motivated person, so I always try to set goals and deadlines for myself and treat writing like a job. I pretty much always make myself follow these “deadlines.” I’m motivated by fear, too. If I don’t write/revise/promote/succeed, then I’ll have to get another job, and really, there’s nothing else I would enjoy doing even half as much as writing!
What are some necessary items you need in order to write? I’m pretty low-maintenance. Give me a computer and some quiet, and I’m good! But coffee always helps, especially first thing in the morning. I find I get a lot done if I can write just after I first wake up as I drink a cup of coffee.
Anything else you want to tell your readers? The Life of Glass will be out on February 9, and if you want to know anything else about me, check out my website: http://www.jilliancantor.com Thanks so much for having me on your blog today!