Jillian Cantor is an author who’s first novel, The September Sisters, was nominated for the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Best Book For Young Adults List and was depicted as “startlingly real” by Publishers Weekly. Her second young adult novel, The Life of Glass, was recently released in February. Her upcoming debut adult novel, The Transformation of Things, will be available in November 2010. Jillian received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the Penn State University. She went on to attain a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Arizona and was the recipient of the national Jacob K. Javits fellowship. Since that time, she has been writing up a storm and lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons. Check out Jillian’s Blog for more information.
1) How long have you been a writer?
I’ve loved to write since elementary school and for a long time I kept a notebook of stories and poems. But I really seriously started writing when I was a sophomore in college, and I took an introduction to fiction writing class. That’s also around the time when I actually began to consider myself “a writer.”
2) How did you get started in publishing?
Though I had a lot of education in writing (a bachelor’s degree in English and then an MFA in fiction), none of it prepared me at all for publishing! I left school with a bunch of stories, a novel (that currently resides in a drawer) and absolutely no connections in the publishing world. So I queried agents, a lot of them. First for the book I wrote in graduate school (which I never found an agent for) and then for what would eventually become my first published novel, THE SEPTEMBER SISTERS. I queried agents, got a lot of rejections, gave up, revised, queried again and then I finally got an offer of representation from an agent in 2006.
3) How long did it take you to publish your 1st book?
As you can see from my answer above, it was a bit of a process! I wrote THE SEPTEMBER SISTERS in 2003, I got my agent in the fall of 2006, and the manuscript sold in early 2008. The book came out last February (2009), so all in all, it took nearly six years from the time I wrote the book to the time it hit the shelves.
4) Who is your favorite author?
That’s tough because there’s so many! In women’s fiction, I love Emily Giffin, Julie Buxbaum, Katherine Center, and Allison Winn Scotch, just to name a few. Anna Quindlen has always been a favorite of mine since I read Black and Blue years ago, and also there’s Khaled Hosseini, who I think is a stunning writer.
5) What is the best author experience so far?
This is something simple, but I’m going to say it’s getting an e-mail from a fan, someone who I’ve never met who loves one of my books. It always brightens my day, because I still can’t get over the fact that people I don’t know are reading my books!
6) What do you when you’re not writing?
Usually I’m with my kids, but on the rare occasion that I have a free moment, I love to read (of course), and I also have a bit of an addiction to celebrity reality shows.
7) Have you ever had writer’s block? What to you do?
I’ve honestly never really had writer’s block (although now I feel like I should be knocking on wood!). I think it’s probably because my biggest hurdle is finding the time to write, so whenever I do have the time, I force myself to sit there and write something. I always tell myself that whatever I’m writing doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be something, and that I can always fix it later. I think this takes the pressure off.
8) Do you have any book promotion tips?
Well, I think getting yourself out there online and on blogs certainly helps to get the word out there a bit. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are also good ways to spread the word about your books, especially to your network of extended friends and acquaintances. I have a blog that I share with four other authors called The Novel Girls. We all support and try to cross promote with each other, which is great.
9) Tips for other aspiring writers:
Don’t give up! Publishing is often filled with rejection, and I have been rejected many, many times. But if I gave up, I would never have gotten published. Take what you can from the rejection, but then move on, keep writing, and keep revising.
10) Tell me about any current or upcoming books:
THE LIFE OF GLASS, which is the story of a 14-year-old girl who learns about life, love, loss, and beauty during her freshman year of high school just came out in February from Harperteen. My debut women’s fiction book, THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS, will be out on November 2nd from Avon/HarperCollins. It’s the story a woman whose judge-husband gets indicted and who then begins dreaming things about her friends and family, only to learn that her dreams might actually be real and the reality she thought she knew might all be a lie.
11) Where can I purchase a copy?
If you check out the front page of my website, there are links to buy/pre-order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.