Author Interview: Melissa Kantor (The Darlings Are Forever)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 |

Melissa Kantor

Books (Young Adult):
  • Confession of a Not It Girl (2006)
  • The Break Up Bible (2007)
  • If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince? (2007)
  • The Amanda Project (2009)
  • Girlfriend Material (2010)
  • The Darlings Are Forever (2011)

Melissa Kantor:
Five fun facts about Melissa Kantor (her speaking as, 'I')--
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

The Darlings Are Forever:
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?

What makes you decide where to set a story?
I really need to set a story in a place I know well. I've tried setting stories in unfamiliar places (I once tried to set a book in Washington DC), but location is really important to me. I need the feel of a city to set something there. So I'm a bit limited--Brooklyn, the New York suburbs, Salt Lake City, Cape Cod. I guess there are a handful of other places I could go, but they'd have to be ones I've spent loads of time in.

In Darlings are Forever, was there a character you disliked but grew to love with time?
A great question! My problem is the opposite, actually. I have a lot of trouble writing characters who aren't WONDERFUL (in the sense of appealing to me). I want everyone I write about to be nice and happy, and it's really hard to write an interesting story about people like that. So first I often write a draft where no one does anything bad AT ALL to anyone else and nothing really bad happens TO ANYONE, and then I have to make my characters a little more complex (maybe a little meaner or less perfect). I guess what I mean to say is that I start out loving all of my characters and then I have to make them flawed (though I try to still love them).

Out of all your young adult novels, which one was the hardest to write?
Definitely If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince? I really had NO idea how to write a book, and I'd sold the idea just on the title. It was a total mess for MONTHS. I was sure I'd never finish it. Just thinking about it makes my stomach hurt. But now I feel happy about how the book turned out, so it just goes to show. I'd have to say The Darlings Are Forever was a close runner up. I had never written a series before or done multiple points of view or third person. Ugh. I spent a lot of time tearing my hair out.

You have romance in a lot of your novels... what sizzles a romance?
Ooooh, fascinating. Okay, I really, really like scenes where couples get together, but in a true romantic comedy (which most of my books are), that's got to wait until the end. So that means a LOT of verbal sparing--you know, they're trading insults but really they're falling in love. I like a little edge to my characters' flirtations. Like, Sam and Lucy (in If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince?) don't get along at ALL at first. Something I really enjoyed doing was writing The Breakup Bible where you see the couple get together in the first chapter, and for the rest of the book, they're apart. It was interesting to write two people who have some sizzle but AREN'T going to be getting together. Overall, romance is exciting (for me) when two characters challenge each other to be their best selves, especially if that means breaking out of familiar roles or routines.

What's the most important thing about friendship?
I think a really good friend knows all of your bad qualities and accepts them and sees them as minor flaws in an otherwise awesome person. A really BAD friend, on the other hand, exploits your flaws and/or refuses to accept them. I'm not saying best friends shouldn't challenge each other to break out of a rut ("Yes you CAN do that scary/exciting/amazing thing you're scared to do"). But, for example, my best friend knows I'm INSANELY bossy, but she'd probably describe me as having "leadership qualities." Best friends see the glass that is who you are as half full!

*Random Questions
There's an elephant stampede coming your way! What do you do? I am so dead.

Your in a bookstore and you only have 5 minutes to go around. Which section would you go to? What book/s would you get?
I usually stay away from contemporary adult fiction. I'll DEFINITELY browse the YA section, and I might buy something there.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I'd like to be able to find a legal parking space in New York City anywhere I go.

*This or That Questions
Revising or Editing? Editing. True revising is TORTURE!
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Black or White? Black
Zombies or Unicorns? Hmmm...unicorns.
Third or first person? Recently, third. Usually, first.
Light or dark covers? There's a lot of pink in my covers.
Fade to lack or show it? I tend to fade to black, but I really, REALLY admire writers who can show it.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Melissa! Be sure to check out Melissa's latest novel, The Darlings are Forever!


Erin said...

Nice interview! I've been dying to read The Darlings Are Forever, but purely based on the cover I'm waiting until it warms up and I can go to Central Park and read it in style! I did the same with Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. I had to wait until it was snowing just because of the cover :)

brizmus said...

fun interview! yay that she prefers unicorns. boo that she would die in an elephant stampede.

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