Mary Ann Rivers kicks off a new contemporary romance series—sure to please readers of Ruthie Knox, Kristan Higgins, and Jill Shalvis—where love can be found unexpectedly.
If there’s an upside to unemployment, Destiny Burnside may have found it. Job searching at her local library in Lakefield, Ohio, gives her plenty of time to ogle the hottest man she has ever laid eyes on: the sexy wood-carver who’s restoring the building. But as the rejection letters pile up, Destiny finds an unexpected shoulder to cry on. With his rich Welsh accent, Hefin Thomas stirs Destiny so completely that, even though he’s leaving soon, she lets herself believe the memory of his scorching kisses will be enough.
Hefin can’t help but notice the slender, confident woman with ginger hair who returns each day, so hopeful and determined. So when the tears start to fall, his silence—penance for a failed marriage—finally cracks. Once he’s touched her, what Hefin wants is to take her back to Wales and hold her forever. But Destiny’s roots run too deep. What they both need is each other—to learn how to live and love again.
Thank you, Mrs. Mary Ann Rivers
Your artistic nature manifests itself in so many ways. Is there a common line that unites them all, an element that is found in all of them?
Play and collaboration. I like to experiment, risk, try things, mess around, make a mess, make noise. It’s even better if I can do all that with other people, or along with others, or talk to others about what it is I am doing and what they are doing. I think I feel most creative when I think of everything as a process, versus trying to creative a product.
You write both short stories and novels. Is the challenge of writing them different in any way? How?
Yes – they are very much a different process. Short stories, for me, invite risks with how to tell a story, because how the story is told is what a reader likes most to be invisible (so that they can simply enjoy the story at hand). However, in a shorter work, a reader can often enjoy risks with the telling – limited POV, strange POV, major risks with language, deeply complex or unusual structures. The enjoyment can be had from this kind of craft because as a reader, you’re not going to spend hours and hours with it, where it might get fatiguing or have no point.
For example, in THE STORY GUY, the POV is very, very limited. I stay right with the heroine in first person present tense and all of her interactions with the hero are challenged. This becomes then, it’s own theme – who’s story is it? In a longer work, or even for some readers in this shorter worker, this could be frustrating. However, I think it’s worthwhile to take risks like this, to try. I think trying and learning and risking are often much more exciting and teach me more than perfection. Similarly, SNOWFALL, my other novella, challenges with structure and what gets revealed when. These are puzzles, to both have fun and to learn as a writer, while inviting the reader to engage with new things.
Novels can take other kinds of risks (well any kind of risk, but in terms of what I’m thinking about lately) – but it’s nice to use the larger space of the novel to think about what kinds of lives can be explored. To take time with how people make decisions, to uncover layers of characterization, to invite other points of view and casts of secondary characters. LIVE is in third person POV, but it’s still quite deep, and so, given these two characters who are expressive and romantic, I could play with that kind of language. In the second book, LAUGH, the language is more athletic because the characters are more seated in their bodies versus their minds. Novels let us spread out in this way and are a longer form kind of play.
We can meet in real life people and situations that in books would appear incredible. How will author establish for its characters what they have to face in order to keep their past/decisions believable?
I think the author needs to really invite the reader to get the know the character from multiple perspectives. Seeing how the character works, makes decisions, interacts with other people, feels about where they live, speaks, what they say and don’t say to those they love and those they are challenged by – all of those aspects invite the reader to accept the circumstances of the story.
I recently read a fantastic romantic suspense, OFF THE EDGE by Carolyn Crane, and of course, like many suspense novels the circumstances were extreme and required suspension of disbelief. However, there was a great realism to the novel and tremendous intimacy with the characters, and this is because we experienced their humanity, not just the action of the plot and narrative.
So I think, the more extreme the circumstances or plot, the more time spent with characterization, and then the reader will follow the story any where and believe it.
Hers, his or alternative POV –What are their advantages and disadvantages; do you have any preferences?
I have to say, I do love a very limited POV. I don’t have a preference to whose POV, but I like their to be limitations. THE STORY GUY and SNOWFALL are both heroine POV, which is actually very old-fashioned for romance novels a generation ago, but has been edged out by alternating third, and now, New Adult is bringing back more limited POV and first POV. As a writer, I like the challenge of how to tell the story and how the protagonist learns what they know.
Even in LIVE, while it’s in third and alternates between the two protagonists, the third is very deep POV and there are lots of secondary characters that never get a POV – we have to stay with the protagonists.
Right now, I’m writing a novel that’s entirely in the hero’s POV, and is first person simple past. I’ve written in the hero’s 1st POV before, but not in simple past, so it’s this new kind of lovely challenge. What’s been surprising me is how big and loud and present the heroine is, despite the limited POV, which tells me a lot about how the hero perceives her.
What is the most important reaction that you want Live to produce to readers?
I’d like readers to be immersed in the neighborhood, the lives of the people, how Des and Hefin make their decisions, and how they fall in love. I set out to write one of those more sprawling romances with lots of setting in the scenes and a great deal of loving sensuality.
About the author:
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.
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