Q&A with Jill Santopolo, author of The Light We Lost

I had the distinct pleasure of discussing my newest favorite read The Light We Lost
with the author, Jill Santopolo. If you haven’t already, go out and buy this one or borrow it from your local library! Hopefully this interview will help give you a clearer picture of what the novel is about- no spoilers! Also click here for my review of the novel.

What is about a first love that has such a magnetic pull that seems to hold on no matter the distance in geography and time?

I feel like this is something that a social scientist somewhere should be studying (or maybe already is)…but without any data sets, I’d guess that it probably has to do with associating that eye-opening magic of love with a particular person. When you fall in love for the first time—the kind of love where you feel seen and adored and appreciated for who you are—it’s like you discover a new way of existing in the world. And I don’t think we ever forget the person who first made us feel that way, who made us feel desired and important and cared about and special for the very first time.

Without giving too much away, were the final chapters formed, at least in part, before you started writing the book or did they come about as the story developed?

This is going to be a little hard to talk about without spoilers, but I’m going to do my best: When I first started writing The Light We Lost, I hadn’t settled on the ending of the book and was actually considering a few different options that would probably horrify my editor. Once I did know what was going to happen, though, I didn’t know how far to take it, as far as the timeline was concerned. There were drafts where I ended the book earlier than I did and drafts where I ended it later. But when I wrote this version of it, the one that’s in the published book, it felt right to me, like this was the ending I’d been searching for all along. (I hope readers think so, too!)

Do you have a bucket list? If so, what are your top 3 things to complete?
I do have a bucket list! Right now the three things at the top of my list are:

1) Take a trip to Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand (Australia’s the only place that Lucy travels to in The Light We Lost that I haven’t been)

2) Take French lessons (I studied Spanish and Italian in college, but have always wanted to be able to speak French, too)

3) Buy an apartment in NYC (I’m looking!)
(The three items I’ve already crossed off my bucket list that I’ve enjoyed the most were: flying in a hot air balloon, road tripping through Israel, and racing in a triathlon.

In your opinion, was Lucy more truly a Pegasus or Persephone? Or some combination on a spectrum?

That’s a great question. I think that Gabe would probably say that she was a true Pegasus—he always felt that way about her, and it’s part of what kept him coming back to her and reaching out to her when difficult things happened in his life. But I think Lucy would probably have called herself a true Persephone because no matter what she did, she felt like she was pulled toward Gabe by forces beyond her control. I think what’s so interesting about this question is that people see each other—and themselves—in different ways. I was once talking to a friend who was feeling down on himself, and told him that I wished he could see himself through my eyes, because then he would see all the wonderful parts of himself that I saw. I would bet that there are a lot of people in all of our lives who see us very differently than we see ourselves, and that’s part of what I wanted to show in The Light We Lost. I don’t think Lucy’s friend, Kate, for example, would see her as either a Pegasus or a Persephone. She’d have an entirely different perspective on Lucy based on the way the two of them interact.

Do you believe in the idea of a “soul mate”? Why or why not and how would that type of love look? Possibly like Gabe and Lucy or Darren and Lucy or something vastly different in context and interpretation?
This might be surprising, coming from an author who wrote about such a strong connection between two people, but I don’t believe in the idea of a “soul mate,” mostly because I don’t believe that there’s only one person in this world that each of us can find happiness with. I think that there are many people who each of us can connect with deeply, and that loving someone with all your heart doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best person for you to spend your life with. And I think there’s a second, kind of unspoken question that’s part of the “soul mate,” question, which is the idea of predestination: Are we fated to meet the people we do and live the lives we do and that is one of the things Lucy is grappling with throughout The Light We Lost. I haven’t decided which side of that debate I, personally, come down on yet, but I think about it a lot. Maybe I’ll need to write a few more books about it before I decide.
As far as what a soul mate-type relationship would look like…I think that each of us has different values and priorities, and ideally people find, in their perfect partners, someone who shares those values and priorities, and someone who makes them feel like their lives are better with this person in it than they are otherwise.

I big thank you to Jill for taking the time to answer my questions and for the wonderful publicity department at G.P. Putnam.

Read voraciously




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