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Callie Leary: So, I’m sitting here with author Melissa Kantor who I’ve just spent the past four months telling basically my entire life story to. Harper Collins, our publisher—hey, that sounds kind of cool, doesn’t it, ‘our publisher’?
Melissa Kantor: Very cool.
Callie Leary: Anyway, Harper asked us to do a little…interview, I guess, to talk about writing Invisible I. So, that’s what we’re going to do.
MK: Do you want to describe where we’re sitting for everyone?
CL: Oh, yeah, good idea. Um, we’re sitting at Just Desserts, the cool if slightly too adorable Orion coffee house, and in front of me on a marble-topped table, I have their signature drink, which is a latte-chino, and a chocolate chip cookie. In
front of her Melissa has a cup of black coffee that actually looks a little bit lonely.
MK: More than a little bit. I think it wants some of your cookie.
CL: And between us is this micro-cassette tape recorder that Melissa uses when we talk because while she is extremely cool in all other respects, when it comes to technology, she inhabits a parallel universe in which it appears to be 1985.
MK: Nothing wrong with 1985.
CL: People wore leg warmers.
MK: I look around me, I’m seeing leg warmers.
CL: They’re ironic.
MK: So you say…
CL: Meanwhile, the interview. Who goes first?
MK: Well, since I’ve been asking you questions for months now, why don’t you go first?
CL: Okay, I actually do have a question I’ve been dying to ask.
MK: Go for it.
CL: When you first heard about The Amanda Project, did you think Hal, Nia and I were completely crazy?
MK: (laughs) Crazy? Um, no. I never thought you were crazy. At first, I have to admit I did think you were making the whole thing up, which I feel bad about now.
CL: Why do you feel bad?
MK: Weeeelllll, I guess because it seems like such a typical ‘grown up’ response. You know, ‘how could these three teenagers really be looking for their friend who disappeared? I’m sure they’re just confused about what happened to her, blah, blah, blah.’ But then I went to theamandaproject.com and poked around and I discovered how real you, Hal and Nia are, how serious your commitment to finding Amanda is. And I guess that as I got glimpses of Amanda on the site, I got hooked on finding her too. After that, I never doubted you again and I wanted to be a part of your extraordinary project. So, to answer your original question, no, I never thought you were crazy, but I had my doubts. Which, to say the least, I no longer have. Okay, my turn.
MK: For the past few months, you’ve been telling me secrets about your life—private thoughts, events no one but you knew about. When Invisible I comes out, those secrets won’t be secret anymore. Is that scary to you?
CL: Um, now it is. (laughs) No, I guess…I mean, it’s definitely weird that soon everyone is going to know everything about me. People at Endeavor kind of have…an idea of who I am, and that’s about to be blown wide open. But I believe all the facts have to be out there if we’re ever going to find Amanda. And if I kept something hidden and it turned out to be important…I honestly couldn’t live with myself. You know how Amanda had all these famous quotes she’d use?
MK: Mmm hmmm.
CL: One time…actually, we were sitting here. Not at this exact table, but we were at Just Desserts and she used this quote, “This above all: To thine own self be true.” And Invisible I feels like it’s true to me. And I believe it’s true to Amanda. So I guess…you know, I guess I can live with whatever fallout there might be from its publication. Okay, I have one for you. Do you think Amanda could be…I mean do you think she’s okay?
MK: (Long pause) I really, really want her to be okay. She’s clever and she’s determined—clever and determined enough to bring you together with Hal Bennet and Nia Rivera, and I don’t know that there’s another human being on Earth who could have done that!
MK: The people who are after her, if there are people after her, I just can’t imagine she won’t be able to stay one step ahead of them. I believe, I truly believe that at the end of this journey, you—we—will find her and she will be okay.
CL: Amanda would say it’s the journey and not the destination that matters.
MK: Well, for us mere mortals, I think the destination is kind of important. We’re looking for Amanda, and we want to find her. We need to find her. We don’t just want to look.
MK: Can I tell you something?
MK: I sometimes think…when we first met, we talked about why you chose me out of all the authors Harper suggested. And you said it was because you like my books so much.
CL: I said I thought you wouldn’t make me sound like a complete dork.
MK: That’s right, you did. And it was a wonderful compliment. But sometimes I wonder if you didn’t pick me because all of my books have happy endings. I don’t want to psychoanalyze you since that’s definitely not my place. I just wonder if you thought that by picking a writer whose books end happily…I don’t know, that subconsciously you thought maybe your story would have to end happily, too.
CL: I never thought of that. Wow.
CL: (pause) Okay, your turn to ask a question.
MK: You going to eat that cookie?
MK: Damn. Okay, your turn.
CL: Well, this one is kind of off the record.
MK: Off the record? Who taught you about off the record?
CL: Ah, you did, actually.
MK: Oh. My bad.
CL: Do you think Hal is cute?
MK: (laughing) Callie!
CL: Well, do you?
MK: I think Hal is…compelling. I can see how teenage girls would definitely think he’s cute.
CL: But do you think he’s cute?
MK: Look, you’re the mathematician, not me, but I’m pretty sure if you calculate it, you’ll discover that he’s young enough to be my son.
CL: But some people are objectively cute no matter what the age difference is between you and them. Like, if I asked if Robert Pattinson or Daniel Radcliff was cute, you’d answer.
MK: Do they go to Endeavor?
CL: You’re scaring me. Do you seriously not know who Robert Pattinson and Daniel Radcliff are?
MK: My mom has a friend who went to Radcliff college.
CL: There’s a wall of magazines behind you and they are each, literally, on the cover of at least three of them.
MK: There’s half a cookie, uneaten, in front of you and I could literally eat it right now. I say we go get some lunch.