Book Giveaway & Author Interview: The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor

Welcome to Author Melissa Kantor!

Bio:

Melissa Kantor is the author of Confessions of a Not It Girl, an ALA Booklist Best Romance Novel for Youth in 2004; If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince?, a YALSA Teens Top Ten Pick in 2006; The Breakup Bible, an ALA Best Books for Young Adults nominee in 2007; and Girlfriend Material, a Junior Library Guild Selection. She is a teacher in Brooklyn, New York, where she lives with her family.

Five fun facts about Melissa:
1. The first time I ever kissed a boy, I made a complete fool out of myself. Right before we kissed, the boy asked, “Have you ever kissed anyone before?” I said, “No. Have you?” He said, “Yes.” Then I said, “Oh, I forgot. I have too.”
2. I’m a Capricorn.
3. I used to unbend a paper clip and put it on my teeth like a retainer because I wanted braces.
4. I didn’t learn how to make a grilled cheese sandwich until I was in college. (Does anyone know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich? They’re actually kind of hard to make!)
5. I failed Spanish.

Come read the first chapters of all my books for free at http://melissakantor.com/ 

Interview:

What is one book everyone should read?
If I’m wearing my English teacher hat, I’d have to say everyone should read Mrs. Dalloway or To the Lighthouse. Virginia Woolf is, to my mind, the greatest writer ever (if we’re going to try to make those kinds of statements, which I guess is kind of silly). Her language is gorgeous and complex, but it doesn’t get in the way of her characters–she’s always building them, deepening them. She’s not just writing beautiful sentences for their own sake. As a writer, she’s perfect, and those two novels are perfect novels.
That said, Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains (which tells the story of Paul Farmer, a doctor who works in Haiti and around the world fighting HIV and TB) is one of the most important books I’ve read in my life. It’s about doing meaningful work in the world, being a dedicated aid worker and humanitarian without necessarily needing to be a saint. The book made me want to be a better person and a better citizen, and I think about it all the time. Kidder’s a tremendous writer to boot, so anyone reading the book would learn both from the story and from his prose.

If you were a superhero what would your name be?
Sadly, I fear I would be Super Know It All. In my real life, no matter what anyone does, I often find myself…well, not criticizing it exactly (I’m not critical), but thinking I could have done it better. Is that annoying or what? I’ve spent most of my adult life trying not to be quite so bossy, but maybe having a super power could mean having your most annoying trait start to work for the forces of good!

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Honestly, I think it would be the power to know when to keep my mouth shut.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Chubby Hubby. Have you ever tried it? I like really busy ice creams, and this one has it all–chocolate, pretzels, peanut butter, vanilla. I could eat an entire pint all by myself, but if I’m forced to share, I do this awful thing where I dig around for the chunks of yummy things. Luckily my husband likes much mellower flavors (ginger, for example, is a flavor he might pick), so we’re rarely competing for those hunks of chocolate covered pretzels hiding at the bottom of the container.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Everything bagel, very well toasted, extra sharp cheddar cheese sliced with a cheese slicer and put on when the bagel is still hot so the cheese melts just the tiniest bit. That said, I will eat pretty much anything for breakfast–cold pizza, left over Chinese food. I love breakfast.

Night owl, or early bird?
Early bird, definitely. Even when I was in high school and college (when a person’s biological clock is supposedly set for late nights and sleep-ins) I always loved going to bed early and waking up early. Now that I have kids who get up at the crack of dawn (and often before), it’s like I have an excuse to have a nine o’clock bedtime. I can make it until eleven if necessary, but after that, I’m pretty useless.

Pet Peeves?
Over the past few years I’ve noticed people in New York City seem to think it’s okay to clip your nails in public. This completely bewilders me. I mean, is there anything more disgusting than someone else’s nail clippings? Okay, yes, there is, but I think you know what I mean. What would possibly make people think it’s acceptable to remove old, dead parts of their bodies on the subway or bus? I would like to see this trend die.

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
I loved, loved, loved A Wrinkle in Time. I think it’s partly because Meg is bookish and Calvin is an outsider, and I was always a bookish girl who was attracted to outsiders. There’s a Normal Klein book (for older teens) called It’s Okay if You Don’t Love Me, and I still love that book. The main character, Jo, is human and flawed and hilarious and her family resembled mine in some ways–parents divorced, New York City’s Upper West Side. She was the girl I wanted to grow up to be. Now that I’m an adult, I still feel that way!

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Write a book you’d want to read.

If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why?
For a long time I bet I would have said Aphrodite because she’s beautiful. I always wanted to be really, really beautiful. A guy once told me that all smart girls want to be told they’re beautiful and all beautiful girls want to be told they’re smart, and as a smart girl, I can say that was definitely true for me when I was younger. Now, though, I don’t think I’d pick her. I think I’d want to be Artemis (because she’s independent and super cool) or maybe Zeus because he’s the boss.

What is your favorite Quote?
“To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,/But life without meaning is the torture/Of restlessness and vague desire–/It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.” Edgar Lee Masters

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
When I was working on my second book, If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? I was getting really bogged down trying to write a bunch of scenes I thought should come towards the end of the novel even though I really didn’t have any more story to tell. I talked to my editor about them, and she said, “Just get to the prom” (which was where the final scene of the book takes place). She was right–the situation had been set up, and all it needed was to resolve itself in the final scene. Now when I’m writing, I often remind myself to just get to the prom (even if it’s a metaphorical prom). Sometimes you’re having trouble writing more stuff because you’re at the end.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
A good friend (who is also a writer) told me to go out and buy something really expensive that I would never have splurged on otherwise, so I bought a beautiful pair of boots. I still have them, and when I signed my second contract, I bought another pair of boots. I’m not even that into boots, but I love both these pairs.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Sex and the City (the TV show). Whenever I’m having a sad time, I order it on netflix. My secret wish is that one year my husband will buy me the box set for my birthday!

The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor:

Jane, Victoria, and Natalya. Together, they are the Darlings. Best friends forever. They have matching necklaces, their own table at Ga Ga Noodle,and even a shared motto: May you always do what you’re afraid of doing.

When the friends begin freshman year at three different high schools in distant corners of New York City, they promise to live by their motto and stay as close as ever. The Darlings know they can get through anything as long as they have each other. But doing scary new things is a lot easier with your friends beside you. And now that the girls aren’t spending all their time together, everything they took for granted about their friendship starts to feel less certain. They can’t help but wonder, will they really be the Darlings forever?

Giveaway Details:
4 Winners will each receive a copy of The Darlings Are Forever
Open to US only
Ends 3/8/11

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