“A Day In The Life” With Toronto Novelist Marissa Stapley

Marissa Stapley exemplifies William Makepeace Thackeray’s belief that “there are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.”

As a child, Marissa was a prolific diarist whose in depth chronicles of the ofttimes complicated life of a young girl served notice of her future career as a novelist. She first saw her work published as a high school student during a co-op placement with the Stouffville Tribune, then filled in for her journalist father writing human interest and sports columns for the same paper during her dad’s vacation time. She went on to graduate from Ryerson University with a degree in Journalism in 2003 before beginning to write features and book reviews for newspapers and magazines across North America.

Her first of four novels, Mating For Life, was published in 2014 and became an instant best seller. Her subsequent offerings have been published in 13 countries and nine languages.

Like any accomplished novelist, Marissa is an avid reader, and an unabashed apologist for commercial fiction, with her arguments in support of the concept of a gripping saga for its own sake having appeared in print and in media interviews. She has taught creative writing at the University of Toronto and Centennial College and offers online classes and mentorships.

Her most recent novel, Lucky, was recently optioned by ABC/Disney Studios, and Marissa is now fulfilling a long-held screenwriting dream with Carlton Cuse as her mentor as she develops the book for television. Cheering her on as she continues to pen “the thousand thoughts lying within” is her late mother Valerie, along with a doting dad, three brothers and her High Park Toronto home support staff consisting of two kids, one husband and a self absorbed cat.

~Written by Bruce Stapley (father)

Marissa Stapley
Lately, I’ve been starting my day with early morning Pilates workouts with Beatrix Nagy (@bea_trained) who is a fantastic instructor and has also become a friend — so I get to augment these workouts with long walks and talks in High Park every week, too. We bonded over something sad: we both lost our mothers last spring. But a really beautiful friendship has emerged from that, and I’m so grateful for it!
Marissa Stapley
When I sit down to work — right now I’m doing some screenwriting, and also working on the next holiday rom-com novel I’m co-authoring with my author friend Karma Brown — my cat decides it’s time to snuggle. It has to be a pretty urgent deadline for me not to oblige him. My husband also spends a lot of time snuggling our cat. He’s quite needy. (The cat, not the husband.)
Marissa Stapley
Like everyone else, I’ve spent a great deal of time in Zoom meetings this year …which means I’ve also spent a lot of time rearranging my bookshelves. And taking awkward selfies simply because I’m wearing eyeliner. 
If I’m stuck on a plot point or just need to clear my head, a long walk alone in nearby High Park usually does the trick. During the pandemic, I’ve discovered new routes and paths in a park I’ve lived near for fourteen years.
This is the view from my office window. I spend a lot of time staring at that tree. It’s my favourite tree. Lately, hawks have been swooping by the window, too. I get excited about that. My kids tease me for it and tell me I should become a birder. Maybe I will! Maybe I already am one!
Marissa Stapley
I don’t feel especially creative in the afternoon, so generally reserve administrative tasks for that time of day — like signing book plates for Lucky to be sent out to independent bookstores, since in-person signings aren’t possible right now.
I can’t fall asleep without reading and always have several books going at once (see, my nightstand). I also keep at least one notebook there so I can scribble notes in the night about whatever project I’m working on. In the morning, those notes almost never make sense.
Marissa Stapley
I can’t fall asleep without reading first. But as we enter (hopefully) the last stage of the pandemic, which has also been a tough year for me personally, I’ve found my focus is often scattershot. Short stories or poems are a good solution. This Zadie Smith collection is — not surprisingly — excellent.


Which ‘hood are you in?

Tucked between High Park and the Junction.

What do you do?

I’m a writer, mostly recently of the novel Lucky, about a con artist with a heart of gold and a winning lottery ticket she can’t cash because the FBI is on her tail.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on adapting my forthcoming novel Lucky for television, and have the great fortune to be working with Carlton Cuse (Lost, Jack Ryan, Bates Motel, Locke & Key) and his team on this. I’m also working on a holiday rom-com with my author friend Karma Brown. During the first lockdown we got lonely and decided the only thing that would cheer us up would be to co-author a light, fun, delicious holiday rom-com together. We ended up selling two of them and the second one is due soon.

Where can we find your work?

Anywhere books are sold. My favourite independent bookstores in my neighbourhood are Book City and Type.

IG – @MarissaStapley

Site – MarissaStapley.com