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Jillian Cantor is the author of award-winning and best-selling novels for teens and adults, including The Hours Count Margot, The Lost Letter and her most recent novel, In Another Time. Jillian has a BA in English from Penn State University and an MFA from the University of Arizona.
In Another Time by Jillian Cantor is a moving historical fiction novel about a love that transcends time. I so enjoyed this novel about love and loss, passion and kindness plus music and books. At its heart, is the power of hope and the human spirit. (Check out my review and discussion questions).
Get to know Jillian with the below Q&A where she talks favorite novels, story inspirations, incorporating a time travel concept in her latest novel and much more!
What are some of your favorite novels?
The Handmaid’s Tale has been a favorite of mine since college (long before the TV series!) I also love Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
When did you know you wanted to become an author?
The first time I ever wrote fiction I was in 4th grade. My humanities teacher that year assigned us to write a short story every week, all year, and I was hooked! But I didn’t more seriously know until I was in college. I was an English major but planned to go into journalism until I had an internship with a newspaper the summer after my freshman year, and I realized what I really wanted to be doing was writing creatively. I took my first fiction writing class the following semester, and that’s when I first seriously wanted to become an author.
What inspired you to write In Another Time?
A few things – one, music has always been a huge part of my life, and I’ve always wanted to write a story about the redemptive power of music in our most trying times. And, two, I went to speak to a Holocaust survivor’s group about my last novel, and one woman there shared her family’s story with me. She was a young girl living in Germany as Hitler was coming to power and she said her family refused to leave because it was their country too. I wanted to explore what Germany was like in that time, what ordinary life was like, and why people left or didn’t leave.
What was your research process like for this book?
I tried to learn as much as I could about Germany in the early 1930s and Europe in the post-war years, as well as learning about orchestras and the life of a musician. I read two books that were especially helpful – In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson – which had so much detail about Berlin in these years. And Gone by Min Kym, which is an amazing memoir written by a violin prodigy whose beloved instrument gets stolen. I also listened to a lot of violin music every morning before I started writing.
Did you plan from the start to include the wormhole and time travel concept?
Yes! That was the very first spark of my idea. My initial thought was, what if someone had a way to leave Germany, to travel in time past WWII? Would you go, leave your home and your country and your life? Or would you never believe how bad things would get, and still choose to stay?
There’s so many vivid details about being a violinist – do you play an instrument yourself?
I’ve never played the violin, but I played the clarinet in high school and college in many bands and orchestras. But I haven’t played in about twenty years at this point. Now I still love to listen to music. I go to the symphony a lot with my family, and musicals!
What do you hope are some of the key takeaways regarding this book?
I always hope first and foremost that readers enjoy the story and get caught up in the world of the characters the way I did when I was writing. But also, in the end, I think the book is about strength and resilience and perseverance and the redemptive power of books and music even in the most trying times.
Can you give any hints regarding your next book?
I’m in the midst of writing it now and it’ll be out in 2020 or 2021. It’s another historical novel, about a strong, smart woman, and it explores the impact our choices have on the course of our lives. I’ll be able to share more specific details soon!
Which books are you currently reading and what’s on your to be read (TBR) list?
I’m reading The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff, Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce, and Learning to See by Elise Hooper right now, and I’m going slower than I’d like because I’m also in the midst of reading two non-fiction books for research for my next novel. I have so many books on my TBR! Just to name a few: Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy, Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf, and Woman 99 by Greer Mcallister.