Meg Tilly gives readers a taste of heaven in her new YA novel

megtilly-584.jpgMeg Tilly celebrates after winning the award for best TV actress for her role in Bomb Girls at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto this past March. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

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First aired on The Next Chapter (8/4/13)


Meg Tilly knows what it's like to be in the spotlight. After a back injury ended her dance career in her early twenties, Tilly turned to acting and landed roles in films like The Big Chill and Agnes of God. After taking in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Tilly decided it was time to take a step back. She took time off from acting and focused on her family and her writing. Now, almost 20 years later, she's back to acting, starring in the television show Bomb Girls. She's learned a lot from her years in the spotlight and she puts this information to good use in her latest novel, A Taste of Heaven.

A Taste of Heaven is aimed at 8- to 12-year-old readers and it's Tilly's attempt to show kids that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be. She realized just how much kids glorified and yearned to be famous when touring for her previous YA book, Porcupine. "There were always a lot a lot a lot of questions about fame, celebrity and the kids seemed to want that above everything else," Tilly told The Next Chapter host Shelagh Rogers in a recent interview. They thought "if they were rich and famous, their life would be roses."

Tilly knows first-hand that's not the case. "I meet a lot of incredibly wealthy people. And the majority of them aren't happy." Tilly struggled with being in the public eye herself, especially when she had children of her own. She saw how fame affected friends and family, simply because they knew someone famous. "It's hard for them because they are made to feel less than. they are made to feel that their only value is access to the famous person," she said. "It was almost like I had a communicable disease that would affect and taint everybody that I knew."

A Taste of Heaven taps into this experience, focusing on two young girls, Madison and Alyssa, who become best friends. But there's a big secret Alyssa is keeping from Madison: she's the daughter of someone famous. Fame and its challenges are a big part of A Taste of Heaven, but so are questions young girls face everyday: the importance of friendship, family and truth. The problems young girls face appealed to the writer in Tilly. "I wanted to write for this age because I love this age. Even when they have challenges in their life, they are so buoyant and hopeful and optimistic and there's such a resiliency."

And Tilly wanted to try her hand at something new. Her previous books were very dark. A Taste of Heaven isn't. Tilly feels its "a cozy, safe, rainy-day book that feels like a friend" and it reflects the mindset Tilly has been in since returning to acting. She's had her share of struggles, but since turning 50, she began to look at the positives and focus on the light in her life, not the darkness.

"When I wake up in the morning, every day feels like a new beginning," she said. "I feel this wide-eyed wonder at my good luck."

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