Monday, July 29, 2013

Blog Tour: Interview with Mary Ann Rivers+ Giveaway!


Mary Ann Rivers was an English and music major and went on to earn her MFA in creative writing, publishing poetry in journals and leading creative-writing workshops for at-risk youth. While training for her day job as a nurse practitioner, she rediscovered romance on the bedside tables of her favorite patients. Now she writes smart and emotional contemporary romance, imagining stories featuring the heroes and heroines just ahead of her in the coffee line. Mary Ann Rivers lives in the Midwest with her handsome professor husband and their imaginative school-aged son.

Where to Find Mary Ann:

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Kame: Hi Mary Ann – thank you so much for having TBQ's Book Palace as one of your blog hop stops.  We are so excited to have you with us today.

Mary Ann: Thank you! I am so glad to be here.

K: I think novellas hold a special spot in the book world.  When you need just something to take your mind away for a short time, a novella can be the right choice.  Did you set out for The Story Guy to be a novella or did it just turn out to be novella length when the story was finished?

MA: I knew I was writing a novella. I like constraints as a writer and gave myself the novella as a page constraint to explore what I could fit around what is actually a very simple plot and still maintain pacing and romantic tension.

What’s more, I was exploring Brian’s story at a particular turning point or crossroads in what is for him, a very involved and complex story. Except—without the benefit of his point of view.

I wanted Carrie’s voice to dominate, this woman who had in many ways drifted a little, had lost track of herself, a little, but who nevertheless, had all the tools to full engage with her own life—loving friends and family and an interesting education and a job she loved. I’ve found myself where Carrie is when we meet her, rich with resources but unmoored. I wondered what would happen if she met someone who had extraordinarily limited resources but yearned for what Carrie could have easily—friends, contacts, intimacy outside of that he had with his sister. After all, he knows how to love, too.

So while the backstories of these characters might have filled a novel, I was looking at one particular slice—a time with a run of insomnia and frustrations for Carrie and a gathering of uncertainty and fear for Brian. Brian posts his ad because he’s constructed it as a way to cope and compartmentalize—the kissing hour is a way for him to try to fit in what it is he really wants, which IS a partner, someone to share a life with. He started his complicated journey right out of law school, very young, and hasn’t had an opportunity to figure out how to get what it is he needs, even as he knows what he wants.

Mostly, I wanted to write something very romantic. I wanted to show a man who has a need for romance in his life. In spite of the limits he sets in it, Brian’s ad is very romantic, and dramatic. It calls to Carrie, who we discover, is ready to try some romantic gestures of her own. I wanted to write something with that kind of big gesture romance, a little mystery, something about those kind of gestures and how they happen. So the novella gave me focus, so I think about those things.

K: I just loved the opening to The Story Guy. Carrie is surfing online listings looking at furniture.  My sister is the queen at finding the best quality used furniture online for a steal, I myself have never found anything I wanted or at a price I was willing to pay.  How about you?

MA: My beloved dining room table. It’s a ten-foot long, mid-century modern, mahogany table. Huge. There just me and my husband and our little son so we can all have projects out at the same time. It was 100.00. We have these black steel turn-y stools all around it, like those industrial work stools? And we can all sit at it and have our space and work and still have an end to eat dinner at. It’s perfect. PERFECT. It’s the only piece of furniture I care about in the whole house except for my bed, and I never see my bed.

K: I thought Brian’s online post was very well worded, enough to get me answer back if I was single, an interesting way for Brian and Carrie to meet. Could Brian and Carrie meet any other way, or was their path to love not possible if they met in line getting tea?

MA: Brian would have been very interested in Carrie if had met her in line for tea, maybe even paid for her tea, probably even have flirted with her, in his way. Maybe, maybe if things had been going well at home he might have tried a date or two. We know he has before. I think, though, both of them in this book were at a particular point where they both needed a little drama to give them a push. The ad. The pergola. Their late-night IM sessions in the dark.

K: I understand why Brian has the job he has for the story line, but could Carrie have had another career besides a librarian?

MA: Carrie is, of course, incredibly smart, and so I think she could do lots of things very well. We know, though, she loves a story, has a relationship with information and how to give people access to information. She loves people, thinks they’re interesting, and seeks them out. She’s lonely, but she’s not isolated.

We learn Carrie’s story for why she’s a librarian, but we also see the values of librarians—access, people, analysis, story—really live in Carrie and contribute to what she needs to pursue a relationship with Brian. I don’t’ see her, for example, having some particular “type,” when it comes to a partner, she finds all kinds of people worthwhile. She says she has friends of multiple generations, loves her artsy city, her parents. She’s not always been a little lost, she’s just going through something, a funk. So Brian’s story blows a little of the dust away, fires up those things that are a part of her life and who she is and why she chose her profession.

Also, so may of us love librarians, and what they do. If Brian had “dozens of replies” I wanted a way he very easily would pick one. “Oh! A librarian!” Is what I imagine him thinking.

K: I think that is great that Carrie is a librarian and that she loves her job enough to proclaim it to the world with her “Reading Is Sexy” bag and that wonderful “accessory” that Brian thought was so HOT (avoiding a slight spoiler).  I think those of us who love to read like it when we have characters that we can identify with, and I am not a librarian but I can identify with a female character who loves to read!

MA: Yes! Absolutely! Also, when I’m not writing at my fabulous dining room table, I’m writing at the public library that inspired the one in the book.

K: Brian and Carrie are great characters.  Your secondary characters are fantastic and written so well also.  It must be tempting in a novella to skimp on the secondary characters. Which secondary character was your favorite to write in this novella?

MA: Justin is pretty awesome. He’s young, but has a kind of confident wisdom about things, mainly because when we meet him, he’s happy in his relationship and finishing an internship that leads to his dream job as a librarian. He’s the source of the idea of a story guy, of the idea that all of us are the result of all kinds of different sorts of love—daisy love, orchard love—and that this is worth celebrating until you find your partner, your true love. I think happy friends in our lives are reminders of what makes us happy, and are good foils when we’re not feeling like ourselves. Carrie appreciates, too, that Justin’s youth and disposition mean he’s what she calls a “romance atheist,” someone she can trust to tell her if she’s off her rail.

I also find Shelley and her goats awesome. I have a fondness for the scene when Carrie calls her and she’s tipsy on homebrew beer.

K: I think the concept of a story guy is a person’s life is fantastic.  I have never heard of story guy’s in a person’s life; but as I look back I can pick out one or two in my past. Justin was the perfect character to introduce this idea to Carrie.  Did a friend share the story guy concept with you before you started writing, or was it something that came to you during the writing process?

MA: In the book, a story guy is a “good guy with a bad story doing something stupid,” which, at one time or another, is all of us. All of us are somebody’s story guy, sometime. No one ever put it to me quite this way, but I’ve talked to friends about people in our lives, romantic entanglements, that even at the time felt a little overdetermined not to work out, and still we pursued the relationship because something about it felt interesting and alive and engaging.

So I knew that Justin would be both young enough and interested in Carrie’s decision enough to latch onto the high drama of the situation and encourage her to see where it would go. Which, makes it sound like Justin isn’t a good friend, except that he is, he cares about her, so what might he say? He knows stories, he’s a librarian, too. He’s had a history with guys who made him feel alive and engaged even as he knew that it wasn’t probably meant to be. “A story guy,” he ends up telling her. Someone to light up just a few paragraphs of her own story in neon pink, so she could look back and all the interesting places in her life.

More importantly, this gives Carrie an in—she loves stories too, and she wants to make something happen in her own story. She’s ready for her story guy, and she already has this great beginning.

K: I read a lot, (The Story Guy is the 80th book/novella I have read so far in 2013) and this is one of my favorites.  It is tied for first with your friend Ruthie Knox’s novella Making It Last. Both moved me and I was thinking about the themes in both of these novellas long after I finished.   Brian’s selfless choices are not easy ones, and many would not make the same choices as he did; and for so many years.  Is there someone in your life who inspired Brian?

MA: First, I agree with you—I love MAKING IT LAST, and I hope it’s a story that everyone reads. I’m totally honored you would mention me alongside Ruthie’s book as your favorite. It’s no secret that we’re friends, but her book is wonderful, and an important story.

Second, yes. Absolutely yes. I’m a pediatric nurse practitioner and I’ve also been a caregiver, myself, so in a personal and emotional way, brought some things to bear on Brian. In my work, families invite me into that space of their lives, with their loved ones, ask me to guide them on the things that I can. I’m a part of a lot of little decisions, and big ones too. There is someone, someone I’ve known for a long time, whose loved one is my patient, and because I’ve been alongside them for so much, talked with them, worked with them, tried my best with them, I’m very invested. They helped me with Brian, have read the book. That part of the book is a private dedication. This book is not some large commentary on the experience, because actually, it is very much an individual experience, and I can’t stress that enough. It’s Brian’s story with it, and I brought to it all that I knew the best that I could, and like I said before this is just one moment in a long period of time for Brian. At other times, his experience doing what he’s doing would have been different. We know he’s seriously dated, for example. In many ways, Brian would not, I don’t think, describe his experience as selfless when he as at a point where he has so few choices.

K: One last question before the speed round questions that everyone who stops by TBQ answers; will we see more of Brian and Carrie in future books or novellas, even as secondary characters?

MA: You’ll see Carrie as a walk-on in my novel that releases in January. You’ll know Brian’s on the phone with her by the expression on her face.

Other sightings are always possible.

Speed Round:

A day on a secluded island OR a day at the spa?
Secluded island. No question. I don’t even know what happens at a spa. It sounds demanding.

Reading a spicy romance novel OR a sweet “my-heart-skips-a-beat” one?
I’m going to cheat and ask that I read some spicy sweetness.

Which would you rather have an affair with: a sexy highlander OR a devilishly handsome English lord?
Um. If I am going to have the decadence of an affair, I am not going to choose. I am going to buy one of those unlimited UK train passes and have my fun with both. (Hehe-- I completely stand behind his decision, by the way. TBQ)

Hot summer days OR cold winter nights?
Cold winter nights.

Where would your dream house be: in the city, where all the action is OR nestled in the mountain where you can enjoy the quiet and the wilderness?
City. And it wouldn’t be a house, it would be an apartment so I don’t have to take care of a yard, and there would be a stoop, for gossiping and drinking.

If you could live in any time period, past or future, which one would it be?
I like it here.

Cover Lover OR Blurb Fan?

Steamy Novella OR Sweet Novel? (aka, Quickie or Slow Build Up?)
I do like the slow build up.

Quick—name the one food that you cannot live without?

And finally, tell us 3 unique/wacky/fun things about yourself:

*I’m a cellist, though I’ve found I can learn most string instruments pretty easily.
*I have such a dramatic presentation of synesthesia I was once included in a large research study. Among many other manifestations, every letter and number I see in print is a different color, gender, and personality, and this can change with the font/handwriting or with letters in names I use a lot.
*I regularly correspond with dozens of people. Few could manage my level of penpal madness. Some of these people are famous.

Kame: Thank you so much Mary Ann for stopping by the blog today.  I loved The Story Guy and I look forward to reading more of your work in the future. For anyone who might be interested would you mind sharing the link to the site readers can get their own “Reading Is Sexy” tote?

Mary Ann: Absolutely! This is an independent, small business with lots of fascinating products based out of the Pacific Northwest. There is also Reading Is Sexy t-shirts, mugs, and stickers.

Thank you so much for hosting me! I hope your visitors will find me on twitter @maryann_rivers, my website, or at

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The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers
Publisher: Loveswept (July 8, 2013)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
In this eBook original novella, Mary Ann Rivers introduces a soulful and sexy tale of courage, sacrifice, and love.

I will meet you on Wednesdays at noon in Celebration Park. Kissing only.

Carrie West is happy with her life . . . isn’t she? But when she sees this provocative online ad, the thirtysomething librarian can’t help but be tempted. After all, the photo of the anonymous poster is far too attractive to ignore. And when Wednesday finally arrives, it brings a first kiss that’s hotter than any she’s ever imagined. Brian Newburgh is an attorney, but there’s more to his life . . . that he won't share with Carrie. Determined to have more than just Wednesdays, Carrie embarks on a quest to learn Brian’s story, certain that he will be worth the cost. But is she ready to gamble her heart on a man who just might be The One . . . even though she has no idea how their love story will end?

Where to Buy*:
More Info:

Read Kame's Review here

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thanks so much for stopping by today, Mary Ann! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your interview with Kame (great job!). I'm adding The Story Guy to my list! 

What are your thoughts on novellas? Some love 'em, some hate 'em... Which side are you on? 

When they're done right, I like them, especially if they are used inbetween full length novels in series. 


Until Next Time,


*TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

1 comment :

Pat Egan Fordyce said...

What a great interview Kame! Love all the information we learned about Mary Ann. As you know, I loved The Story Guy also. Thanks also for the info about the tote bag. I'm going to check it out!