with Elise Coop­er

Fans of A High­ly Unlike­ly Sce­nario, or a Neet­sa Piz­za Employ­ee’s Guide to Sav­ing the World: A Nov­el will rec­og­nize Rachel Can­tor’s sig­na­ture pen­chant for tales of love, uncon­ven­tion­al fam­i­lies, search of self, and the mys­ter­ies of lan­guage in Good on Paper, a sto­ry about a lost writer inex­plic­a­bly invit­ed by a renowned, Nobel Prize-win­ning schol­ar to trans­late his new man­u­script — which may not be all that it seems.

Elise Coop­er: You have writ­ten short sto­ries in the past, why write Good on Paper as a novel?

Rachel Can­tor: I enjoy writ­ing short sto­ries. In this case, I thought about a plot involv­ing a group of expa­tri­ate friends who grew up in Rome togeth­er, and I was writ­ing their sto­ry it just got big­ger and big­ger. It became so large it turned into a nov­el. At first I felt I was not up to writ­ing a nov­el and saw myself sole­ly as a short sto­ry author: I kept refer­ring to the book as an N.”!

EC: This is the first nov­el you wrote, but not the first one you pub­lished. Correct?

RC: When I sold my two books to the pub­lish­er, they chose to pub­lish the more recent man­u­script ahead of Good on Paper which I had writ­ten ear­li­er. A High­ly Unlike­ly Sce­nario does not have much in com­mon with Good on Paper. It is a light­heart­ed fan­ta­sy about Jew­ish mys­tics and takes place in cur­rent times. 

EC: What would you say are the key themes to Good on Paper?

RC: It touch­es a lot of dif­fer­ent ques­tions: moth­er-daugh­ter ties, friend­ships, for­give­ness, how to love, and can some­one rein­vent them­selves? I guess if I had to boil it down to one issue I would choose relationships.

EC: You write about three loca­tions, New York, Rome, and India. Why?

RC: Main­ly because I was very impres­sion­able when I was young! I lived in Rome between the ages of ten and fif­teen, in New York when I was around the age of twen­ty-two, and in India in my twen­ties. Like­wise, I have Good on Papers main char­ac­ter, Shi­ra, liv­ing in Rome as an expa­tri­ate, trav­el­ing to India, and resid­ing in New York. These three set­tings always reap­pear in my fic­tion, because they are an essen­tial part of my imagination. 

EC: What did you mean by the fol­low­ing pow­er­ful quote from the nov­el: Yes, I’m sad, but I’m going to give that per­son I love anoth­er chance, a chance to explain them­selves, to do better.”

RC: For­give­ness is cen­tral to my book. There is a part of the book about the idea that inno­cence can be dam­aged but also recov­ered. My under­stand­ing of the Jew­ish con­cept of teshu­vah is about return­ing to one’s inno­cent self, although some call it repen­tance. Shi­ra is going through such a jour­ney. She must be coura­geous and allow peo­ple to be a part of her life again. Can she love again with­out shut­ting peo­ple out? Now, in her mid-for­ties, can she allow her­self to for­give those who have hurt her even if it means being sad while doing so?

EC: What would you like read­ers to get out of this book?

RC: I hope they get caught up in the mys­tery of why she was cho­sen to be the trans­la­tor for this Nobel Prize win­ning author, Romei. He ends up spurring Shira’s jour­ney, con­tribut­ing to chang­ing her life. I hope they go on this jour­ney with Shi­ra and cheer her on as she decides to give the peo­ple she loves anoth­er chance, as she strug­gles to over­come the will to shut down and shut out those who have done her wrong.

Elise Coop­er lives in Los Ange­les and has writ­ten numer­ous nation­al secu­ri­ty arti­cles sup­port­ing Israel. She writes book reviews and inter­views for many dif­fer­ent out­lets includ­ing the Mil­i­tary Press.

Relat­ed Content:

Elise Coop­er lives in Los Ange­les and has writ­ten numer­ous nation­al secu­ri­ty arti­cles sup­port­ing Israel. She writes book reviews and Q and A’s for many dif­fer­ent out­lets includ­ing the Mil­i­tary Press. She has had the plea­sure to inter­view best­selling authors from many dif­fer­ent genres.