Rachel Cantor Recommends...

“I write fiction but I find inspiration in stray facts, mostly when I’m not looking for it. I wander in books, in magazines; I go to odd exhibits and miscellaneous lectures; I try to stay open and curious. I learned about Isaac the Jew from a book that caught my eye in some library stacks: in 801 C.E. he transported an elephant from Baghdad to the emperor Charlemagne, passing a winter in Vercelli because snow kept him from crossing the Alps. How absurd! How interesting! How lonely. He became a character in one of my favorite stories. I learned about the unreadable Voynich manuscript in my alumni magazine (!)—how cool is that, an unreadable manuscript? The Voynich became a major element in my forthcoming novel, A Highly Unlikely Scenario. I file these oddities in my brain or in a notebook, where they amuse me even if I don’t end up using them.”
—Rachel Cantor, author of A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa-Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World (Melville House, 2014)

Photo credit: Marianne Barcellona