Stouffville author Marissa Stapley goes from Main Street to New York Times bestseller
Writing runs in Marissa Stapley’s blood. His grandfather Ray Stapley was a syndicated automotive columnist for the Toronto Star. Her grandmother was a freelance journalist for a magazine. Her father Bruce Stapley was a longtime writer for the Stouffville Tribune and the Stouffville Free Press.
So Marissa, who grew up in the big yellow Victorian house on Main Street, would also be a writer.
She watched her father tap his columns with a finger as he still does today and was transported into the world of stories. She got her start at the Stouffville Tribune before it merged with the Stouffville Sun, taking over her father’s column for a month in the summer. “It was a real lesson in finding stories,” she said.
And while Stapley went to journalism school, worked as a freelancer, started a family, worked as a magazine editor and became a bestselling author, she took her very big break with her latest novel. , “Lucky”. She was the first Canadian author to have her book selected for Reese Witherspoon’s book club and it was book of the month for December.
“I still can’t get used to the idea,” she said. Stapley even remembers a friend telling him that one of his books should be in Reese’s book club. “Yeah, that’ll never happen, but thank you for believing in me,” she recalled saying.
So what changes when your book is featured in Reese’s Book Club?
“What magically happens is that your book is on tables and shelves and visible to consumers,” she said. “I knew I wasn’t going to have to fight so hard to get it seen.”
The book entered the New York Times bestseller list in December.
“Lucky” is the story of Lucky Armstrong, a talented con artist with a heart of gold who has a winning lottery ticket she can’t cash while on the run from the law.
Stapley had an idea while skiing in Elicottville, New York. While stopping at the ski resort, she heard on the radio that a big lottery ticket had gone unclaimed. Radio hosts said someone could not claim a winning ticket for various reasons, such as losing the ticket or issuing a warrant for their arrest. That’s when the idea clicked for Stapley. “It would be a good TV show,” she said. When Stapley called his agent with the idea, the agent agreed. “She said ‘this is the best idea you’ve ever had’,” she said.
Stapley spent much of her days at the start of the pandemic alongside her late mother Valerie who, at the time, was dying of cancer. She made long visits and her mother insisted that she write. “She called my visits ‘writing retreats,'” Stapley said. Those moments were special, and the writing for “Lucky” flowed. Stapley had the added urgency of finishing the book so his mother could read it before she died, which Stapley managed to accomplish. “It’s his book,” she said.
Stapley is busier than ever writing, raising her two teenagers with her husband in Toronto. “There were so many times I almost gave up,” she said. “It’s very meaningful to see so many people receiving (my book) with such enthusiasm.”