Monday, November 16, 2009

Author Bites - Melissa Kantor on Being a Deer

I loved The Amanda Project: Invisible I so much that I had to get Melissa Kantor to do a guest blog. Yay! It didn't take shameless begging! And an even bigger yay that I get the honor of hosting her first guest blog ever! Wheee! Thank you so much, Melissa, for coming by and your words on just being you are inspiring. Enjoy, everyone!

So a while back, this really cool editor called and asked if I wanted to work on this incredible series she was creating, the story of Amanda Valentino, a girl who shows up at Orion high in October of freshman year, turns everybody’s lives upside down (including the school’s vice principal’s) and then…disappears leaving clues for three of her friends (each of whom though s/he was Amanda’s only friend). The three guides (that’s what Amanda called them) have nothing in common. Callie’s an I-Girl—a member of the most popular clique in the grade. Hal’s a loner (a hottie loner, but a loner nonetheless). Nia’s the class pariah (she foolishly took it upon herself to turn Heidi Bragg—Queen Bee and head I-Girl—in for cheating on a quiz in junior high).

The three of them have to work together to decipher the messages Amanda’s sending them, and over the course of the novel they start to discover that maybe, just maybe, they’re not the people they thought they were. Callie, who narrates Invisible I (Book One of The Amanda Project, and the one I wrote) finds out having a cool group of friends and a cute boyfriend isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; when she’s not working to solve the mystery of who Amanda is (turns out she’s not who she said she was, btw), Callie (and, I’m guessing, Hal and Nia) solve the mysteries of themselves.

The Amanda Project has two components, the eight-book series (read chapter one on my website if you want to check it out— and a website ( The website’s a world of its own, and I won’t even try to summarize it except to say you can make up a character, write yourself into the story, get published, meet other cool writer types and, if you’re so inclined, buy some cool swag.

But I digress.

One of the many things you can do on is take the “What’s Your Totem?” quiz. Recently, I took it and I discovered that I am a deer. This means that I am not a horse or a raven or a (most importantly) tigress. If you’ve already taken the quiz, and if you’re a deer, too, you know that we deer are loyal and generous, true friends, people who, when you call out our name, come running to see you again.

And all of these are, I know, really great qualities. Fabulous qualities, in fact, I mean, I value my friendships. If one of my friends is in trouble, I want her to call me. And I will be there.


If you’re a deer, the store that embodies the qualities of deer-ness is The Gap. And “you, but a city” is Minneapolis. And I’m not dissing Minneapolis (where I’ve never actually been), but…

But let’s be honest—if I’m a city, I want to be New York. And if I’m a store, I want to be…I don’t know, Henri Bendel. Or Takashimaya. Or maybe Mistress Mine, this incredibly cool vintage clothing store on Seventh Avenue South.

I mean, The Gap? Kill me.

The truth is, I don’t think I’d be so upset about this whole totem quiz thing if I read the characteristics of The Deer and thought, This is not me. I’d, you know, chuckle about how silly these kinds of generic quizzes are and I’d never think about it again. Unfortunately, the character profile of me the deer? Dead on. I love Jennifer Grey in dirty dancing—the “ugly” sister with a spunky streak who gets the cute guy (yes, I know he’s dead now, that’s not my point) in the leather jacket. If I were a song, I would be “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (a song my best friend and I still quote to each other when the shit hits the fan). Because, yes, I am just that cheesy.

Of course, I could fake-take the quiz and find out—Oh my god, I’m a tigress! That’s right, people! You’d better watch out for me or you will feel my claws. In. Your. Back. Me but a store?

Please! Like I’d ever be a

And as I said, I wouldn’t know because I answered honestly, but something tells me those tigresses aren’t one of the twin cities. Start spreading the news, honey, we all know their civic equivalent.

Yeah, just a few dishonest clicks of the mouse, and I can be a part of it.

Before I took the totem quiz, I’d sworn off those magazine-type quizzes for just this reason—they always revealed that I was “the good friend” not the sexy siren, the “wise sage,” not the ingĂ©nue. Starting with Seventeen (“Are you his dream prom date?”) and all the way through Cosmo (“Could you be his fantasy?”), the answer was always no. I didn’t go to the prom, and if anyone’s fantasizing about me right now, he’s keeping it on the DL.

In my old age, I’ve more or less come to terms with who I am. I am not spontaneous. I am not devil may care. I am not one of those women with crazy hair who’s always losing her keys.

I’m not a tigress. Whatever. It’s all good.

The Amanda Project is about finding the real you. And I’m all for a little healthy self-discovery. Yet I find wondering if taking the “What’s Your Totem” quiz was really such a great idea.

Because truth be told, it’s still a little sad to find out you’re a deer.


Sonja said...

Hmmm, after reading this blog I really do want to read those books now. Tarnation (in a good way, of course).

I took the quiz. I'm a raven (which, of course, reminds me of Neil Gaiman: "Say Nevermore." "Fuck you." hehe), which supposedly means I'm an intellectual. Although, this seems to be a more idealistic version of me (it says that I've never met a book I didn't love, but please...if I hadn't read Twilight on the kindle, I would have burned it out back).

All in all, one of the more fun quizzes.

Bleuette said...

Sounds good!

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Donna (Bites) said...

Burn the Kindle! LOL!

This really is a great book, especially if you like to be challenged.

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