We are kicking off our Author interviews with a cracker!
Jill Santopolo, author of More Than Words (our April general fiction selection) is here with us.
Jill lives in New York and has an extensive resume both as Author and Editor. She has degrees from New York University, Columbia University, and Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is also the associate publisher of Philomel Books.
We’ve all loved reading your new release, ‘More Than Words’ last month and we’d love to know the inspiration behind it - was it a story that you’d be working on for a while?
JS: Thank you so much for readingMore Than Wordslast month. It truly means a lot to me when people take the time out of their busy lives to read something I’ve written. As far as the inspiration, I wroteMore Than Words, which took about two years for me to write, after my father passed away. While Nina and I are very different (I wish I were a hotel heiress!), and her father and my father are very different (though they both do like fancy cars), learning how to navigate the death of a beloved father is something that both she and I have in common. And that was my inspiration for this story. I wanted to write about that journey—and also write about how experiencing life-altering like that can affect all areas of a person’s world. So, for Nina, not only is she coming to grips with her father’s death and what she learns about him after he dies, but also how that changes the way she thinks about her work and her love life and her (very attractive) former boss Rafael. She, like I, had to figure out how she was going to live in the world without her father, and what that would mean for her.
What did it feel like to see ‘More Than Words’ on a bookstore shelf for the first time?JS: It’s always exciting to my books in bookstores—the first time, but also every time! My favorite is when I’m traveling and I unexpectedly see my book in a train station or airport bookstore. It’s sometimes hard for me to believe that something I wrote is really there for other people to buy and read. I think the feeling I most have when I see my book is gratitude—for all the people it took for it to be there on that shelf.
If ‘More Than Words’ was turned into a film, who could you imagine playing Nina?
JS: It would be so amazing ifMore Than Words wereturned into a film! As far as actresses, the first one that comes to mind is Alexis Bledel, but there are probably so many who would do a great job portraying Nina.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
JS: If I could tell my younger writer self anything, it would be to focus on becoming a better writer and not to look at other writers you know and compare yourself or your success (or lack of success) to them. Putting in the work is the most important thing. Keep your eyes on your own paper.
What are three novels that have had the biggest impact on you?
JS: This is a hard one, and is the kind of answer the might shift depending on where I am in my writing at any given moment, but I think I’d have to say:Queen of the Summer Starsby Persia Woolley because it was the first love triangle novel I read (and loved),Jacob Have I Lovedby Katherine Paterson because it showed me how you can write about someone as they age (and because it made me cry), andActs of Faithby Erich Segal because it showed me that the personal and political can be interwoven beautifully in a novel—that you can say something with a love story, which is what I always try to do.
What are you currently reading?
JS:The Two Lila Bennettsby Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke. (And I recently finished the memoirLove You Hardby Abby Maslin.)