Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World

Janet E. Cameron is a Canadian writer living in Dublin. Her debut novel, Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World, is a hilarious and dark coming of age story set in rural Nova Scotia. It opens in 1987, when Stephen Shulevitz, a bright, socially awkward teenager, realizes he’s in love  – with his best friend Mark. Zoomer talked to the Canadian author about home-sickness, inspiration, and the importance of titles.

Zoomer: I understand you grew up in Nova Scotia. Was that why you set the book there and was there any resistance?

JC: I was homesick actually and living in Ireland – I’m still living in Ireland. I’d been thinking about home and I wanted to recreate it for myself. I didn’t think anyone in Ireland would go for it and I was surprised when it ended up published in Ireland. Nobody said change the setting because that would have been insane. My editor in Dublin said she connected to the setting quite a bit because she grew up in a small town in Ireland, and I’ve had other people say that about their small towns in other parts of North America. It’s a bit universal. And then for other people, it’s exotic.

Zoomer: One of the striking relationships is between Stephen and his father, Stanley. Were there any challenges in writing a father/son relationship?

J.C.: The thing about Stanley that was frustrating was that he wasn’t there. He leaves, he’s gone and then nothing Stephen can do or say was going to affect that person. I’m sure we’ve all had relationships like this – where a person just leaves and you want to engage them in some way. You want to have an argument with them, you want them to care about your life and they just don’t. This can happen with personal relationships. Anytime you realize that somebody matters more to you than you matter to them. It’s the same emotions. [I wasn’t] thinking about a father/son relationship in detail but how you feel when somebody just doesn’t care about you that much. You want to shake them, but even if you did, they wouldn’t give you anything back.

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