Monday, February 12, 2018

Interview with Marissa Stapley, Author of Things to Do When It's Raining + Giveaway (US/Can)

I'd like to welcome Marissa Stapley to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Things to Do When It's Raining from Graydon House, a Harlequin imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Marissa! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Marissa Stapley is the author of The Globe and Mail bestselling and critically acclaimed novel Mating for Life—"intriguing and heartbreaking" (Publisher's Weekly); "absorbing and entertaining" (Maclean's magazine)—and most recently, Things to Do When It's Raining, ​which author Lauren Fox calls "a gorgeously written page-turner", author Jennifer Robson calls "one of the best books I have read in a very long time" and author Karma Brown calls "a deeply moving story about family, love and loss".

Things to Do When It's Raining was released by Rowohlt in Germany and by Simon & Schuster in Canada and Graydon House (Harlequin) in the US on February 6, 2018.

Marissa also writes Shelf Love, a monthly commercial fiction review column for The Globe and Mail and reports on books and culture for the Toronto Star. She lives in Toronto with her family.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hit shelves yesterday:

When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?

Mae Summers has it all: a loving fiancé, Peter, a job at the flourishing company he owns and a beautiful New York City apartment. But Mae’s life shatters when she wakes up one morning to discover Peter gone—leaving only a cryptic note behind him—and the company in shambles, its investments founded on lies.

There’s only one place for Mae to go: home to Alexandria Bay, the small tourist town in upstate New York where she was raised by her grandparents in the inn they own. And not all is right in Alex Bay, either: Mae finds her grandmother struggling with dementia, separated from Mae’s grandfather thanks to a terrible secret she never meant to reveal.

She also finds Gabe, her childhood best friend who became the love of her young life—now a handsome if brooding adult, working through a private trauma that still haunts him.

A lifetime of secrets stands in the way of Mae and her family’s happiness. Home may be where the heart is, but sometimes it takes equal parts love, forgiveness and will to mend that heart.

What has your journey been like to becoming a published author?

There’s a sign in my office with a Winston Churchill quote: Never,never, never give up. That’s the best summation for my publishing journey I can think of. I had many false starts and a many moments when I felt like packing in my dreams. But becoming an author is something I have wanted since childhood. I’ve never been anything but a writer—so I just kept on working at it, every single day. I’m often asked for advice on becoming published and I think people are surprised by my answers sometimes. It looks easy when you’ve reached your goal. But overnight success is rare. The most successful people I know are the ones who have worked the hardest and are still working hard.


How did you come up with the idea for Things to Do When It's Raining?  

My grandmother died while I was writing Mating for Life and I would say my single most regret in life is that I wasn’t able to be by her side in those final moments. We were extremely close, and I was still grieving when my first novel released and the time came for me to start working on my second book. I couldn’t stop thinking about my regret, and about some of the things that had come to light after she died. So I started to write, and this story about family secrets and regret began to take shape. I saw Chris Cleave speak a few years ago about his wonderful novel Everyone Brave is Forgiven. He said that his grandparents had inspired the story, but that as it began to take shape, the story became about something else entirely. They were just the seeds for the story. This is very much how fiction works. Inspiration is found in our lives or even the people we know or have known—but when we start writing, the characters become real. At least they should become real. For me, it took some time for it to happen. I didn’t want to let go of my grandmother. When I did, the story took shape. And I still felt her with me.

Would you mind sharing, in the spirit of Valentine's Day, a true love story from your own life?

A few years ago, while my family was away at the cottage in the summer, our house was broken into. My husband and I had decided—foolishly!—to leave our wedding rings at home because we didn’t want to lose them while swimming in the lake. The rings were gone, of course, and I was devastated. We had new rings made—I was able to use my grandmother’s diamond in my engagement ring, which gave it emotional significance—and then my husband put them away and asked me to wait. One morning, we got in the car and he wouldn’t tell me where we were going. We drove to my hometown, to a spot I had mentioned a few times as considering especially romantic: the bridge where the proposal scene between Anne and Gilbert was filmed in the original Anne of Green Gables television series. Even though we had been married almost a decade, my husband got down on one knee and proposed again. The bridge was very old and almost falling down so we didn’t linger! But it was very, very unexpected and sweet. And there’s more! After that, we headed back to Toronto, to one more bridge. If you haven’t read Mating for Life, I won’t give too much away, but there’s a bridge scene at the end—and that bridge has significance in our lives as well. I don’t often borrow from my own life, but I did for that scene, and my husband noticed. He had our wedding rings in his pocket, and we exchanged them on that bridge. We headed off to our favorite hotel spa for lunch and massages, and then home where our families were waiting for a special dinner. My stepfather is a minister and my husband had arranged for him to recreate part of the wedding ceremony he had performed years before. When the rings were stolen, I thought there would be no way we would have rings that could be as special. I was wrong.

Swoon! What are you favorite things to do when it’s raining?

There’s nothing I love more on a rainy day then covering myself in blankets and reading for hours. Even better if I can read something that’s purely for pleasure and not for review (I review books for The Globe and Mail) or novel research—although there’s always something delicious about reading a book under a blanket and telling myself it’s for work. Best job in the world!

Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Marissa! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Things to Do When It's Raining as part of the 2018 Valentine's Day tour for Harlequinwoohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell  me in the comments below:
What's your favorite thing to do when raining?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Marissa and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

I put on a fuzzy robe, plushy slippers, and stay burrowed under the covers for as long as I can. There's something so comforting about the cold and wet outside in contrast to the comfort and warmth of your own home.
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at TLC Book Tours and Graydon House!
Giveaway ends February 26th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!