Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Virginia Kantra Interview - Meg and Jo

Photo Credit: Michael Ritchey

New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra is the author of almost thirty novels. Her stories have earned numerous awards including two Romance Writers of America's RITA® Awards, ten RITA® nominations, and two National Readers' Choice Awards. Carolina Dreaming, the fifth book in her Dare Island series, won the 2017 RITA® Award for Best Contemporary Romance - Midlength and was named one of BookPage's Top Ten Romance Novels of 2016. Virginia is married to her college sweetheart, a coffee shop owner who keeps her well supplied with caffeine and material. They make their home in North Carolina, where they raised three (mostly adult) children. She is a firm believer in the strength of family, the importance of storytelling, and the power of love. Her favorite thing to make for dinner? Reservations.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’ve been making up stories all my life. I wrote fairytales for my younger cousins to bribe them to go to bed and plays that I performed with my sister on our neighbors’ porch. The idea that I could get paid to write always seemed like a dream come true. But it wasn’t until my youngest child started kindergarten that I began to write seriously for a particular market.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
This book is dedicated to my dad, who died before I could finish it, and my mom, who had some serious health issues after dad’s death, which was definitely distracting and made it fairly wrenching to write some of the father/daughter bits. Also the hospital scenes.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
I’ve got to say Little Women, right?

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Well, the RITA Awards stick out. Bounding onstage for that gold statuette was obviously a big moment.

But over the course of a career, you recognize it’s the little moments that matter most. When a writer you’ve idolized forever says something that makes you realize she’s actually read your work. When a reader tells you that your story helped her get through her kid being bullied in school or her mother’s illness. There’s no substitute for that.

In your new book; MEG & JO, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Meg & Jo is a modern re-telling of Little Women, with the March sisters aged up to their twenties—what I think of as the contemporary “coming of age,” when you’re trying to figure out who you are apart from your parents and what you’re going to do with the rest of your life.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Meg and Jo?
The March sisters are so archetypal. Everybody thinks they knows them, either from the book or the movies (esp. the 1994 version): Meg, the traditional oldest sister; Jo, the smart, independent one; shy, sensitive Beth; and Amy, the artistic brat. But they really resist stereotypes. As I was writing them, they kept refusing to be pigeon-holed. That’s what I loved about the original Little Women and what I hope I captured—the diversity we have as women.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d love to introduce Jo March to Lizzie Bennet in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

  • Because you loved Little Women.
  • Because you never read Little Women.
  • Because you can’t wait for the Little Women movie!
  • Because you have a sister and you love her.
  • But sometimes you can’t stand her.
  • Because you know that there are lots of different ways to be a successful adult woman.
  • But you don’t know what they are.
  • Because you love Christmas stories.
  • Because you want to be reminded that families can pull together in tough times.
  • Because you want to know if/who is the right match for independent Jo.
Who has had the most influence in your life?
I was my daddy’s girl, and sometimes I open my mouth and my mother’s voice comes out. But I’d have to say my husband, because he’s always seen me, you know?

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I grew up on the Main Line, going to camp and Cape Cod. My husband spent his summers working in the steel mills with his father. So, the summer after we started dating, I went home and took every temp job I could find—selling flooring, doing clerical work for this seedy insurance agency, sewing costumes for summer stock. Anything.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Take a risk—on a vacation, a move, a job, a love, a child.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I’m good, thanks. I never want to be a teenager again, that’s for sure.

Best date you've ever had?
My best date actually had a terrible start. My husband was in grad school, and we had one baby and maybe another on the way and no money. So I told him we should take things easy for my birthday that year, and I baked my own cake—with our toddler helping, of course. Well, by the time he got home, I was bawling on the kitchen floor, pregnant, with the cake in the oven and the kiddo on my lap. And within an hour that man got a babysitter and a dinner reservation at this little French bistro we used to go to when we were dating.

Which is why I sympathized so much with Meg in this book. And also why my husband will never, ever trust me again when I tell him not to make a fuss on my birthday.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
My hair looks like crap.

The timeless classic Little Women inspired this heartwarming modern tale of four sisters from New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra.

The March sisters—reliable Meg, independent Jo, stylish Amy, and shy Beth—have grown up to pursue their separate dreams. When Jo followed her ambitions to New York City, she never thought her career in journalism would come crashing down, leaving her struggling to stay afloat in a gig economy as a prep cook and secret food blogger.

Meg appears to have the life she always planned—the handsome husband, the adorable toddlers, the house in a charming subdivision. But sometimes getting everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

When their mother’s illness forces the sisters home to North Carolina for the holidays, they’ll rediscover what really matters.

One thing’s for sure—they’ll need the strength of family and the power of sisterhood to remake their lives and reimagine their dreams.

Praise for MEG AND JO

“I don’t know of another author who could do justice to Little Women. In a warm, realistic, and humorous voice, Virginia Kantra knocks it out of the park with Meg & Jo in this rich retelling of the beloved classic.” —New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins

“Kantra blends just enough of Alcott’s story of four close-knit sisters and their myriad tribulations with clever and timely new elements...The imaginative storytelling and sparkling prose make this a winner.” —Publishers Weekly

“Those who gravitate toward family-centric novels with twists along the way will enjoy this novel, and fans of Alcott's original will appreciate this modern take on the beloved classic.” —Booklist

“A thought-provoking adaptation of a beloved classic.” —Kirkus Reviews

You can purchase Meg and Jo at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you VIRGINIA KANTRA for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Meg and Jo by Virginia Kantra.


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