Guest Interview – Mary Ann Rivers – The Story Guy Blog Tour – Contest!

July 19, 2013 Contest, Guest Post, Random House 2



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?



Interview with Mary Ann Rivers


What made you decide to write the story from Carrie’s perspective?

I always imagine my heroines first, before starting a story. In the case of Carrie, what I had in my imagination right away was her voice. I could really hear her, this intelligent, wry, woman who liked to play with language and maybe had a tendency to over think things, a little. She spoke in little stories, vignettes, verses, it was a way she thought and entertained her. I wanted to try to really immerse the reader in this voice because it seemed liked one that really enjoyed telling a good story.

Justin calls Brian a “Russian novel.” Did you have any particular ones in mind when you wrote that line?

Justin is a librarian, so I do feel like he would have a Russian novel in mind beyond ANNA KARENINA, which is what I was thinking of, just for the intensity of the angst. Justin would have one in mind that was much more obscure, I think. Something like Leskov’s NO WAY OUT.

What sparked the idea of this story? Did you think of the online ad or did Carrie and Brian come to mind first?

I thought of Carrie, her voice, her profession, where she was in her life, first. I knew that she would meet a man who had to compartmentalize his life and why he was in that position, and I also knew I wanted to intersect all that with the internet, how it cultivates relationships.

It wasn’t until I ran across Craigslist ads for casual encounters that I started moving the pieces together. There were definitely ads for lunchtime meet-ups, but they were all for anonymous sexual affairs. We learn that Brian puts assigns a lot of stakes to deeply intimate sexual encounters, that he tends to want more, imagine more, and so I didn’t think it was quite right that Brian would post an ad like the ones I’d found on Craigslist. I started thinking about kissing–about how it’s something that is very intimate and transforming, and about how it’s something we often miss about not dating or when our long term relationships don’t prioritize make-out sessions.

It would be very evocative and safe, I thought, for Carrie to actually answer one of these ads if the promise was kissing, and it would be something, something for Brian to ask for that he could both accept and fit into his life.


Brian has a very serious and complicated life. How do you manage to balance those sad elements with the rest of the romance, which has its funny moments?

Life is such that it is impossible to sustain hopelessness and sadness for very long before we start to crack, at least a little. In my work as a pediatric nurse practitioner, I bear witness to a great deal of range of emotion in difficult situations, and I’m someone who resorts to humor or wit when I’m likewise malleted with sadness. Writing, it was less of a balance and more letting a mood unspool from the greatest intensity of emotion at the point of tension which the character could likely no longer sustain that intensity.

So in a scene where Carrie is restless, frustrated, and angry of library budget cuts, in addition to sort of frantically mulling over what she had done in the park with Brian, and she finds herself staring at a pile of tutoring materials, all wrapped up in that intensity, well, we’ve got it, we know she’s kind of crazed, so there’s the point to unspool from, so then I can Bring Shelley in for a funny bit about family planning.


I adored how much you managed to put in such a short story. How does writing a novella affect how you set up plot and characterization?

 There is a way in which you have to make a lot of choices and limit yourself as much as possible. Carrie and Brian have a lot of backstory, but I am limited myself to one particular point in their lives where Carrie is her most frustrated, feels she’s not taking risks, is faced with the social clock of her friends, and where Brian’s situation is the most deteriorated and he is the most afraid. So then, I can characterize them at this moment, pull out their behavior and reactions from this particular moment.

The plot is really a very simple one, and I framed it with a temporal device of one hour at a time. This broadcasts how limited Brian and Carrie are, but also gives us something to hang on to as a reader–we can watch how much fuller their hours get, one by one.

I think there are a lot of different ways to get at the novella, and this was just one, and the novella is an irresistible medium for experiment. You can try things–try out structure, language, themes, ideas–that if you were “trying” at the novel length may alienate readers. In this space, if it’s not entirely successful, it’s at least interesting and fun and play as a writer and something to have seen and considered as a reader. It’s an exciting space to write in.

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Mary Ann Rivers

About Mary Ann Rivers

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.


Connect with Mary Ann:  Website  |  Twitter |  Facebook

The wonderful folks at Loveswept are sponsoring a great giveaway of this lovely novella (see my review here) so please enter!

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2 Responses to “Guest Interview – Mary Ann Rivers – The Story Guy Blog Tour – Contest!”

  1. Kim

    Thanks for the giveaway. I’ve ben hearing good things about this novella.