It was a Tuesday morning of October. In South Florida, Fall felt like a Summer extension. Leaves didn’t change color, and the temperature was hot and humid despite the change of the season. The breeze blowing on my back was a sign that something amazing was about to happen. On that Tuesday morning, I step inside the Surfside Diner and found a perfect booth for two. I placed two books on the table: “The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café” and “The Rules of Love & Grammar.” A few minutes later, the author of those books, Mary Simses, walked in and joined me for a cup of coffee and a master class dressed as a conversation.
I had this assignment for a course with The Write Practice where I supposed to ask questions to a published author. I contacted Mary Simses, and I had no hope she would reply. For my surprise, she not only replied, but she offered for us to meet. I’ve met authors before during book signing events, but this was the first time I sat with an author to talk about her craft and writing experiences. Mary Simses was kind, patient, generous with her time and left none of my questions unanswered.
Her writing journey started in her childhood. In college, she majored in journalism and worked in a small magazine. A few years later, becoming a lawyer made more sense. While working as a corporate attorney, she enrolled in a fiction writing class and wrote short stories. Mary Simses published several in literary magazines before she followed a friend’s advice to write a novel. “The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café” results from that attempt. “Chapters in a novel are like short stories put together to tell a bigger story,” she explained. The book was published in 2013 and adapted into a movie for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel in 2016, named “The Irresistible Blueberry Farm.” “The Rules of Love & Grammar” is her second novel, published in 2016, and now she is working on her third novel.
What Mary Simses likes the most about being a writer is the effect her work has on people. “When you hear people say that what you wrote touch them it is the greatest feeling in the world,” she said. The author is also great in writing descriptions. She achieves a level of details in her scenes that transport the reader to that moment in time as if the reader is part of it—and, as a reader, I can testify it.
Plotting is the one aspect in writing she doesn’t like as much. “Figuring out plot is hard for me. I’m better at developing characters, but I don’t know what I want them to do. I love setting scenes. I know where to start and where to end, but the pages in between… Plot is hard,” she shared.
For those who want to find and meet writers, or even to take writing classes, Mary Simses recommended the Old School Square. Located in Delray Beach, the space has a reputed theater and art museum, but also a writing program through their Creative Arts School. “Meeting people there, the energy you find from other writers is the best.”
At the end of our meeting, it took me some time to feel my feet on the ground again. “The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café” was a book that I truly loved, and I had the this amazing opportunity to sit and talk with the actual author. In fact, Mary Simses offered so much more than that. As a fiction writer taking baby steps, I had the privilege to learn from the experience of someone who had walked the walk.