Q&A with Melanie Cantor, Author of Death and Other Happy Endings

Do it now! There are only so many tomorrows!

This is the spoiler-free moral of Melanie Cantor’s new audiobook, Death and Other Happy Endings. Read on to learn what Melanie had to share with us about adoring her characters, the beauty of reality, and just how dreamy listening on a (well-deserved) vacation can be.

Tell us a little about Death and Other Happy Endings.
Death and Other Happy Endings is about a 43 year old woman who is given three months to live. Instead of taking a trip of a lifetime, she decides to write letters to the three significant people in her life who have hurt her and finally brave telling them how she really feels. All the things she’s wanted to say but never dared. It’s about female empowerment, finding your voice and why we should face up to important issues before it’s too late. Even though its subject encompasses death, it’s a witty and challenging read, dealing with love, life and making sure you live it, friendship and relationships.

Was there a character in Death and Other Happy Endings that you found yourself wanting to explore more? Why?
To be honest, I fell in love with all my characters and the more they developed the more I wanted to explore them. A lot of people have described them as “very real” – I think that’s because they were so real to me. The book touches on very human experiences, some devastating, so it was important for me to make them authentic. Naturally I love Jennifer (the main protagonist) but Isabelle brings so much humour to the mix, you fall in love with her in spite of her vanity.

Is there a book or character that you’ve written that helped you explore parts of yourself?
Writing Jennifer’s relationship with Harry helped me understand a significant unfinished relationship in my life which has always been a ‘what if?’ for me. In other words, what if I’d have done things differently? What if I’d fought harder for him? What if I’d have trusted him instead of doubting him? I played that out with Jennifer and Harry and I think the outcome is probably the outcome for most of these types of relationships. And we’ve all had one, haven’t we?

What audiobook (or voice) would you take with you on vacation?
Oh my goodness. I so long for a vacation. Just to lie down by a pool and read or listen to books would be wonderful. I’m hoping I get the opportunity before summer ends. I watched the TV series Patrick Melrose based on Edward St Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical novels and found it compelling. I’d happily listen to that (although I’m sure it will be quite disturbing). I also love quirky writers like Jennifer Egan and Maria Semple so would listen to A Visit from the Goon Squad and Where’d You Go Bernadette even though I’ve read both. I’m also a huge fan of AM Homes so anything of hers. Years ago I listened to William Hurt narrating The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux and I could listen to him forever. He could read a shopping list and I’d be gripped.

If you could explore any part of the world, where would you go and why?
There are several places I keep on saying I want to visit but they all require time and currently I have none. I hope I won’t leave it too late to see Vietnam and Cambodia, South America, Cuba and India. I need to take a leaf out of my own book and “do it now! There are only so many tomorrows!”

Is there a fictional world you’ve written that you would personally like to explore? Why?
As you can tell from my book and what I’ve said above I prefer reality. I’ve been a fly on the wall in Jennifer’s world for about the last three years and I’ve enjoyed that immensely. Now it’s time to move on and explore another, very different world of a different family. Of course they’ll be totally dysfunctional and that’s what I already love about them.

Listen to a clip of Hannah Curtis reading Melanie Cantor’s Death and Other Happy Endings

Miss our last Q&A? Check out what author Elizabeth Lim had to say about exploration here.