Canadian author, Marissa Stapley, debuts her novel, Mating For Life, which explores the ups and downs we face with the relationships in our lives.

Seasoned editor and writer Marissa Stapley—who has enjoyed a successful career editing and writing for various publications including The Globe and Mail, The National Post and Elle Canada—pushes your emotional buttons with her debut novel Mating For Life.

The novel follows former folk singer, Helen Sear, a feminist wild child who proudly disdains monogamy, and her three daughters, all from different fathers, who struggle to maintain who they are with the relationships that surround them. As the matriarch, Helen, now in her sixties, suddenly finds herself at odds with her morals and values when she falls in love with a man who maintains traditional values and wants to marry.

Like most people, the search for happiness is something Helen and her daughters Fiona, Ilsa and Liane, find challenging. While eldest daughter Fiona realizes quickly that perfection doesn’t equal peace of mind, middle daughter Ilsa finds out that maintaining the perfect family may be compromising who she is at heart. Meanwhile, Helen’s youngest, Liane, finds out quickly that stepping into the role of step-mom with a new love interest isn’t as easy as she thought it would be. Isn’t there a manual for all of this?

“It’s a family drama following these three women as they end up in the life they thought they wanted,” Stapley says via phone interview. “These women have all gone after what they’ve wanted. They’re all in this place where they should be happy, but they discover that it’s not that simple. It’s a reality that we all face.”

It’s with these emotional journeys that one can’t help get sucked into the story; something Stapley definitely had in mind. “I wanted to show how these different experiences are universal and how we’re all connected to each other in some way and how interesting people’s live can be,” she said.

And she’s done it beautifully. Mating For Life marks a great achievement for Stapley who discovered early on that writing a book and getting published was no easy feat. While this is Stapley’s first published book she had previously written an earlier novel, which was scrapped due to the publishing house going under. The disappointment of that loss stung and inevitably prompted feelings of failure.

“I had no idea at the time how the publishing industry worked,” she recalls.”I just thought if you wrote and finished a book it would get published! I was approaching it like a business decision like ‘OK this is what I want to do next. I want to write a book.’ With this book, I knew that I had to handle it differently and I realized that I loved writing and I had to do it no matter what.”

As with any great idea, the light bulb finally lit up for Stapley who came to the realization that writing another book had to come from the heart and love of the art. “The first thing I did when writing this book was that I wanted to write one that I would like to read,” she said. “I love when a book has multiple characters and I love when they all come together. But ultimately, this book, which explores marriage and monogamy, really came from my own family,” she explained.

Coming from a family with grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles who have all faced divorced (some multiple times), the concept of monogamy is one Stapley has lived, and dwelled on for a long time. “I was really afraid to get married. I didn’t know if I could make a marriage work,” Stapley admits. “I didn’t have that template for how to make a relationship work. When I started writing the book things with my husband weren’t easy. We have two small children and things were a bit of a rocky and I was really questioning the idea of monogamy and ‘Why was it so hard?’ I thought maybe it was just me and I looked around and realized it wasn’t.”

Even though Stapley has finally hit the mark with Mating For Life, and has hit the best selling lists, she still remains cautious about how her novel is received. “I was very nervous about what people who have never met me, who did not know me, would think of the book,” she says. “So far, the reaction has been great. I never get over the pleasure of hearing when someone loves the book and when they get it and see it for what it’s suppose to be or have a new perspective on it that I didn’t even realize.”


Mating For Life (Simon and Schuster Canada) is now available in stores.




—By Toni-Marie Ippolito, with files from Sarah Khan.

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