How Marissa Stapley channelled her grief through writing her new novel

The novelist discusses her latest book, Things to Do When it's Raining, about family secrets and second chances.
Things To Do When It's Raining is bestselling author Marissa Stapley's latest novel. (Eugene Choi/Simon & Schuster)
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Marissa Stapley is the bestselling author of the novel Mating for Life. Her latest, Things To Do When It's Raining, follows New Yorker Mae Summers as she returns to her childhood home after her fiancé disappears with all their money.  It's partly inspired by the story of her grandparents and a family secret that remained buried for many years.

This interview originally aired on Feb. 26, 2018.

Multigenerational story

"Things to Do When It's Raining is a multigenerational love story. It tells these mirroring tales of a young woman who was raised by her grandparents at an inn beside the Saint Lawrence River, the boy she loved, who left town at an inopportune time and them coming back to the inn beside the river just as the grandparents are beginning their own decline and family secrets are being revealed."

Drawing from life

"I thought about what it would be like to actually have something that was purposely buried and have it come out slowly. I don't necessarily have a family secret that was hidden from anybody on purpose, but at my grandmother's funeral, I realized that nobody knew that she had been married before and that my mom had a different father than all of her brothers. 

"This wasn't any kind of a scandal. He was killed in a workplace accident and my grandmother remarried a childhood friend, but it was something that was deeply painful for her, my grandfather and mom, so nobody talked about it. My mom and I would say that we need to talk to her about her feelings of losing her first husband and remarrying, but we never did. Then all of a sudden it became too late." 

Channelling grief

"After her death four years ago, I just started to think about a story — partly because I missed her and wanted to write about her. She got ill quite quickly. The suddenness of her death and it being too late are things that I still grapple with to this day. You think you have all the time in the world, until you don't."

Marissa Stapley's comments have been edited and condensed.