“If you are attracted to the title, The Wedding Thief, you’ll absolutely love this book. Mary Simses is one of our best new storytellers.” James Patterson

Two sisters are in love with the same man. One is about to marry him; the other is about to sabotage the wedding. That’s the intriguing storyline of The Wedding Thief (Back Bay Books), the latest novel from Mary Simses.

Author Susan Shapiro Barash recently had the chance to explore the new release further with Simses.

Q: Your novel is a story of two sisters who are opposites, and in love with the same man. What was the inspiration? 

A: Part of the idea came from an event I attended years ago where each guest got a little box of conversation starters. The one I pulled out asked, “Would you rather be the smartest person in the room or the best looking?” I thought it was an interesting question, and I guess I just never forgot it. The idea of competing sisters came about because of friends who’ve had difficult relationships with their sisters. And being an only child, I’m intrigued with the whole idea of siblings. Somehow all of that came together as the impetus for the book. 

Q: Creating a sister who is hell bent on destroying her own sister’s wedding is not for the faint of heart. What made you decide to write this book in the voice of Sara, the injured sister? 

A:  I never thought about writing it in any other character’s voice. I wanted the story to come from this woman who felt — correctly or not — that she’d been betrayed, was now the victim, and couldn’t really see the situation from anyone else’s perspective. You’re right that the idea isn’t for the faint of heart, but my goal was to write the story with enough humor in there that readers would laugh as much as they would cringe at Sara’s antics. 

Q: The destination of a wedding is significant. What is it about the venue in this novel that has the most impact?

A: These two sisters have arrived back in their hometown in Connecticut, and it’s here that they’re going to have to resolve their differences once and for all. They’re back in the house where they grew up, on a piece of property with a horse barn, a pond and 25 acres of meadows. Their mother still lives there and so did their father until his death five years before the story begins. So these women are surrounded by the past, including their own history as sisters. Who threw the Barbie in the pond? Who always got to sit in the front seat? It’s all there. 

Q: Any sort of showdown between sisters is intriguing, and “sisterhood” is complicated in the best of situations. What were your considerations when you plotted this novel?

A: One consideration was how much intensity I was going to expose these sisters to. Initially, my idea was to have Sara be in love with Carter but for Carter never to have had romantic feelings toward her — an unrequited love. But then I realized I was missing all the heat and that I had to have that former Sara-Carter love affair to really make the story work. I also felt it was important to show how the mother related to each of the sisters. Parents often have set ideas about their children, and sometimes it can be hard for them to see beyond those notions.

Q: Sara and Mariel’s mother is determined that her daughters reconcile, and she describes the idea to Sara as a “compromise.” What makes Sara feel so righteous about anything but a compromise?

A: In Sara’s view, Mariel has been trying to “be” Sara all her life, copying whatever Sara did, whether it was horseback riding or working on the high school newspaper. And in Sara’s eyes, Mariel’s “stealing” of Carter is just one more example of her sister’s attempt to walk in Sara’s footsteps. Sara also happens to think she’s right about almost everything. She’s not adept at listening to other people’s ideas or suggestions, especially where Mariel is concerned. 

Q: This is your third novel. What about the process was the same as with the others and what was different this time? 

A: I’m finding out that it doesn’t get any easier! That seems so unfair, but it’s true. So no difference there. As far as preparation, I didn’t outline The Wedding Thief (or my other novels) before writing, but I did have the basic plot points in my head. I also kept a thumbnail outline going as I went along so I’d remember what each chapter was about and who was in it. I find that invaluable. For the novel I’ve just begun, I’m outlining more but only to a point. I can’t outline an entire book before I write. My brain just doesn’t work that way.

The Wedding Thief is now available for purchase. 

Photo Credit: Capehart Photography

Mary Simses grew up in Darien, Connecticut and began writing stories as a child. After majoring in journalism in college, she worked for a few years in magazine publishing, but then decided to go back to school to become a lawyer. While working as a corporate attorney, Mary enrolled in an evening fiction writing class at a university in Connecticut and began writing short stories “on the side.” Several of her stories were published in literary magazines. She finally took the advice of a friend and decided to try writing a novel. That manuscript ultimately became The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café, which was published in 2013 and later adapted as a movie called The Irresistible Blueberry Farm for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. Mary has since written The Rules of Love & Grammar and The Wedding Thief.

Mary enjoys photography, old jazz standards, and escaping to Connecticut in the summer. She lives in South Florida.