Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Melanie Cantor's happy beginning...plus a book giveaway

Photo by Karla Gowlett
Today we welcome Melanie Cantor to CLC. Her debut novel, Death and Other Happy Endings, published last week in the US and last month in the UK. Thanks to Viking, we have two copies to give away!

Melanie Cantor worked for many years in PR and as a celebrity talent agent, and has dabbled in interior renovations, which led to her hosting a UK TV series where she tidied up people’s messy houses. She has since concentrated on writing; Death and Other Happy Endings is her first published novel. She has two grown up sons, a dog and lives in London.

Visit Melanie on Twitter and Instagram.

Given three months to live, what would you do?

Jennifer Cole has just been told that she has a terminal blood disorder and has only three months to live—ninety-ninety days to say goodbye to friends and family, and to put her affairs in order. Ninety days to come to terms with a diagnosis that is unfair, unexpected, and completely unpronounceable. Focusing on the positives (she won’t have to go on in a world without Bowie or Maya Angelou; she won’t get Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s like her parents, or have teeth that flop out at the mere mention of the word apple), Jennifer realizes she only has one real regret: not standing up for herself to the three most significant people in her life.

Rather than rushing off to complete a frantic bucket list, Jennifer tackles this regret through letters (handwritten notes on nice stationery) to the three people who hurt her the most, to say the things she’d wished she’d said, but never dared. Before she can overthink it, Jennifer posts the letters to her overbearing, selfish sister, her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend.

At first, Jennifer feels cleansed by her catharsis. Liberated, even. Her ex-boyfriend rushes to her side and she even starts to build bridges with her sister Isabelle (that is, once Isabelle’s confirmed that Jennifer’s condition isn’t genetic). Once Jennifer starts telling the truth, though, she realizes it’s hard to stop. And as she soon discovers, the truth isn’t always as straightforward as it seems, and death has a way of surprising you. . .

In one sentence, what was your journey to publishing like? 
Tough and now all the more appreciated because of the failures that led to the eventual success.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges from writing Death and Other Happy Endings
The biggest reward was the initial excitement that this was not going to be published just in the UK but in the US too. What a thrill. And then it grew to nine other territories including Russia and China! Extraordinary. Now there is the reward and thrill of the reviews coming in and the engagement with readers.

The challenge includes making people who don’t normally read commercial fiction, appreciate that this is not just a quick pacy story (which it is) but one that will make you really examine your own life and get you thinking. If you like, it’s an intelligent easy read! Is that a thing? Well it should be!

If Death and Other Happy Endings were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles? 
There is genuine talk that this could be made into a movie so I’ve been playing the casting game in my head, even though I probably won’t have any say in the matter. I’d love Kate Winslet to play Jennifer. She’s the quintessential English woman who would be perfect in the role. Gwyneth Paltrow to play Isabelle (let’s get her acting again,) Rachel Weisz as Olivia, and Helena Bonham Carter as Anna Maria. As to the male leads, Jon Hamm as Harry (can he do a British accent?) and Rufus Sewell as Leo (in fact I visualised him when I was describing Leo). If you don’t know him, check him out as Lord Melbourne in the TV series Victoria. The most gorgeous kind of sexy!

What is the funniest thing that happened to you recently? 
 I was on a blind date in a local Italian trattoria. As I was focusing on the man sitting opposite me (trying not to be disappointed) and listening to his chat, he suddenly stopped mid-flow to tell me my menu was on fire “and it’s flickering right near your hair.” I had inadvertently leant the paper menu against the tea light candle and it really was flaming up. All hell broke loose. The waiter started flapping wildly at the smoke alarm, the waitress was having to open and shut the door to let in air. Fortunately, as paper does, it stopped burning fairly quickly. Happily, without incident. I thought the whole thing hilarious. Sadly my date did not which as far as I’m concerned, summed him up.

What is the last book you read that you would recommend? 
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez. It ticked two boxes for me. Firstly it was about a dog (I have a cute dog called Mabel who is effectively my third child). And secondly about the publishing world. It was a beautifully written book dealing in an original way with loss and friendship - obviously themes that interest me. It totally summed how dogs find their way into your heart when you least expect it as well as throwing an interesting look at perspective; how we can all remember the same event very differently.

What is the strangest thing residing in your purse or handbag? 
Probably the roll of dog poo bags. A dog owner should never be without them.

Thanks to Melanie for making us laugh and to Viking for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends July 21st at midnight EST.


rhonda said...

Spend time with my family.

LoriF said...

I love the premise for this novel, I immediately tried to narrow down who my 3 letters would go to. Looking forward to reading it :-)

Bernice Kennedy said...

I would spend time with my loved ones and travel to some places on my bucket list.

Unknown said...
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kjpetty21@gmail.com said...

Have my family complete things on my bucket list together with me!

Nancy P said...

I would try to enjoy every second with my great family & friends.

Kelley B said...

Simple things, like making sure my family knows I love them!

Mary C said...

Spend time with family and friends

Michelle L said...

I would spend time with my daughters, and get everything in order, to make it as easier on them.

Rita Wray said...

I would get everything in order so my family doesn't have to worry once I'm gone. Then I would spend as much time as possible with my loved ones.

diannekc said...

I would like to travel and spend time with family, friends and my pets.

Mary Preston said...

I'd probably be in such mad panic, but hopefully sort everything out and spend time with family.

Grandma Cootie said...

Whittle down my TBR stack! ;-)

Bonnie K. said...

I think the first few days I would have a good self-pity cry. I would then sort through the papers and make a list of things my husband would need to know such as how to pay the bills and clean up my list of passwords for him to be able to decipher. I would then go through my things and discard a bunch of stuff so that my family don't have to deal with it. Then, I will arrange some stroll down memory lane days with the family. Because I love the coast so much, I will want to arrange a short vacation to spend some time with my family. I might, if I have the energy, write some letters; especially for my grandson because he's only five years old.

bn100 said...


Lelandlee said...

Feed the needy

Xia Lee said...