Stouffville author Marissa Stapley goes from Main Street to New York Times Bestseller

Marissa Stapley is the author of “Lucky,” which is the first Canadian book to be chosen to be part of Reese Witherspoon’s Reese’s Book Club.

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Writing runs in Marissa Stapley’s blood. Ella’s grandfather Ray Stapley was a syndicated auto columnist for the Toronto Star. Ella’s grandmother was a freelance magazine journalist. Her dad de la Bruce Stapley was a longtime writer for the Stouffville Tribune and the Stouffville Free Press.

So it was that Marissa, growing up in the big yellow Victorian house on Main Street, would be a writer too.

She watched her dad type out his columns with one finger as he still does today and was transported into the world of telling stories. She got her start at the Stouffville Tribune before it merged with the Stouffville Sun, taking over her dad’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, freelanced, had a family, worked as a magazine editor and became a best-selling author, she caught her really big break with her latest novel, “Lucky.” She was the first Canadian author to have her book de ella selected for Reese Witherspoon’s book club and it was the book of the month for December.

“I still can’t wrap my head around it,” she said. Stapley even remembers a friend telling her that one of her books by Ella should be in Reese’s Book Club. “Ya, never going to happen, but thanks for believing in me,” she remembers saying.

So what changes when you’re book is featured in Reese’s Book Club?

“What magically happens is your book is on tables and shelves and is visible to consumers,” she said. “I knew I wasn’t going to have to fight so hard to get it seen.”

The book made it onto the New York Times Bestseller list in December.

“Lucky” is a story about Lucky Armstrong, a talented con-artist with a heart of gold who has a winning lottery ticket she can’t cash in while on the run from the law.

Stapley came up with an idea while skiing in Elicottville, New York. Pulling up to the ski resort, she heard on the radio that a large lottery ticket had gone unclaimed. The radio hosts said someone could not claim a winning ticket for a variety of reasons like the ticket being lost or having a warrant out for their arrest. That’s when the idea clicked for Stapley. “This would be a good TV show,” she said. When Stapley called her agent with the idea, the agent agreed. “She told me ‘this is the best idea you have ever had’,” she said.

Stapley spent much of her days early in the pandemic alongside her late mother Valerie who at the time was dying of cancer. She would make extended visits and her mom insisted she write. “She would call my visits ‘writing retreats’,” Stapley said. Those times were special and the writing for “Lucky” flowed. Stapley had the added urgency to complete the book so her mother de ella could read it before she died, which ella Stapley managed to accomplish. “This is her book by her,” she said.

Stapley is as busy as ever writing, raising her two teenagers with her husband in Toronto. “There were so many times where I almost gave up,” she said. “It’s very meaningful to see so many people receive (my book) so enthusiastically.”

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