marissa stapley lucky

Reese Witherspoon is a fan of this NY Times bestselling author who is also a Toronto resident

It's few authors that achieve bestseller status, but Marissa Stapley's Lucky is easily one of the best books of 2022 not to mention it’s currently in TV development.

The Junction neighbourhood resident, who's been a professional writer for twenty years, has lots of projects in the works but made time to fill me in on her whirlwind year, including what it was like to fly to Los Angeles and meet The Morning Show star herself, Reese Witherspoon.

I've seen the clip on your Instagram, and it's fabulous, but what exactly was going through your mind when you heard your awesome book Lucky was to be a Reese's Book Club selection? Did you even sleep that night?

That was the best moment! But it was also weirdly terrifying. I think writers naturally tend to catastrophize so once I got over how thrilled and excited I was, I started to worry that it was somehow a mistake, or it would be taken away.

I went back and forth between overwhelming joy and abject terror! It was weird. But my editor, Nita Pronovost (who writes as Nita Prose and is a massive bestseller) gave me some good advice, which was to take the next three months when I had to keep this major, incredible secret (no easy feat!), and find a way to own it.

Everything changed in that moment. Having the time to get used to it and prepare was a gift.

What was it like travelling to LA and actually meeting Reese?

I was invited to a party thrown by the Reese's Book Club at a pop up bookstore they were doing at the West Century City mall in L.A. It was all sort of last minute, because no one really knew what was going on with pandemic restrictions and that sort of thing.

I think there were just days between when I decided to go and when I actually went — and at the very last minute, I decided to bring my family.

This was because for three months I had carried this secret. My husband and teenage kids were the only ones I could talk about it with. I suddenly couldn’t imagine the day of the announcement arriving and not having them by my side. It was a fantastic night.

Do you remember where you were when you heard you had made the New York Times bestseller list?

I was out Christmas shopping with my daughter. We were in a crystal store called Happy Soul when my agent called with the news. I started to cry. Everyone was staring. And I didn't care!

I told my daughter to go pick whatever she wanted and buy it, and she selected this little crystal bowl with tiny crystals inside. It sits on her desk and every time I look at it, I smile at that memory. It was so exciting. A dream come true. It felt amazing.

What would you be if you weren't a writer?

I have no idea! I have a degree in journalism, and worked in newspapers and magazines for years, with a brief sojourn into media relations at a TV station. Then I started writing books, and the rest is history.

Being an author was a dream I’d had since childhood. There are writers in my family so everyone encouraged it and gave me no reason to think it wasn't possible.

I had no idea how many challenges and bumps in the road there would be, and I'll admit to a few moments where I wondered if I might need to find a new career path.

At one point, I applied to graduate school with the idea that I was going to take library & information sciences and become a librarian — but it was as if the universe took notice of that move and said, 'No way, you're a writer.' 

Things picked up again in a big way, and I haven't looked back.

What's a fun fact people might not know about you?

I don’t have my drivers licence! And I can't snap my fingers. Every time I tell someone this, they try to teach me how to snap my fingers but listen, I just can't do it.

What advice would you give anyone looking to pursue a career in writing?

Don't quit — unless there's something else you would be happy doing! Then go do that other thing and be happy. That sounds a bit dire. I guess what I'm trying to say is a writing career is not for the faint of heart or weak of spirit.

It's seldom a straightforward path to success — and success can start to look like different things over the years. Things are going really well for me now, but I've had some painful, uncertain times.

Marissa Stapley is currently working on a novel called The Lightening Bottles, about a nineties alternative rockstar that goes missing at the height of his fame which is due out in October 2024 and a holiday rom-com out in October 2023 that she co-wrote with Uzma Jalaluddin.

Lead photo by

Marissa Stapley

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