How To Stay Married
is the story of a marriage; a journey from fear, resentment and financial devastation, to a place of love, joy and trust.
Mary-Lou Stephen’s first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation chronicled how meditation changed her life, saved her job and helped her find a husband. How To Stay Married, is the truth behind the happy ending.
How to Stay Married
takes us around the world; from the glitter and glare of Las Vegas to the sub-zero temperatures of the French Alps and the tropical heat of Thailand, all with cabin luggage only.
The discoveries Mary-Lou makes regarding herself and her marriage are a modern day parable about learning to travel light in life, love and relationships.
Let’s find out what makes Mary-Lou Stephens tick. Mary-Lou what made you decide to become a published author?
I never thought I’d be an author. I wrote songs for years when I used to play in bands. I didn’t think about writing prose until about 12 years ago when I went on an overseas holiday and came back with a few out of focus photos taken on a disposable camera. A friend said “Clearly photography’s not your thing. Why don’t you write about your holiday instead?” So I did and I’ve been writing ever since.
I wrote newspaper columns and short stories but never anything longer. I saved up my money and took six moths leave without pay. I wanted to find out whether I could write an entire book and then having done so if I ever wanted to do it again. The answer to both questions was yes.
When I read self-help books I turn straight to the case studies, the stories. I think human beings are hard-wired for stories, we love them. When I realised my life read like one of those case studies I wondered if other people would be interested in my story. The answer again was yes. My first published book Sex, Drugs and Meditation was published by Pan Macmillan last year. How To Stay Married is the sequel.
Would you consider your latest book, How To Stay Married, to be a one of a kind? How so?
How To Stay Married
, is a brave and personal book. It touches on areas in a relationship that not many people have the courage to expose. My husband has been my biggest supporter. He gave me permission to write anything I needed to, even though some of it was very tough on him. I’ve been toughest on myself though, often not painting myself in a very good light, but that’s what being honest is about.
What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?
Never send first draft material to anyone. I did and it was a big mistake. I had some interest early of for my first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation. A literary agent got hold of the first chapter and asked to see everything I’d written. I was naive and did just that. Big mistake and I blew my chance to be signed to a major literary agency. She did give me some great feedback though and many years later I finally finished the book and landed a publishing deal with a major publisher. As Stephen King says, “Write the first draft with the door closed and the second draft with the door open.”
Are you published by a traditional publisher or are you self-published?
My first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation was published by Pan Macmillan after I submitted it through their open submission process. I wanted to go with a major publisher because of possible legal issues in the book. I wanted a legal team to look at it before it was published. I had to make a few changes but not many. Luckily my work as a broadcaster has given me a fairly good working knowledge of the laws around defamation.
I’m self publishing How To Stay Married
because the only person who could sue me over this book is my husband and he’s promised not to 🙂
What message are you trying to get across with your book How To Stay Married?
How to Stay Married is about creating the kind of relationship you want. Isn’t that what we all seek? A place where we belong. Arms in which we feel safe. Home. My wish for my readers and the ones they love is for happy trails and many adventures along the way.
While How to Stay Married
isn’t your regular ‘how-to’ book, there is a list of Seven Tips For a Happy Marriage (and one from my mum) at the end. You can receive a free copy
of these tips by signing up for my newsletter.
By the time you’ve read the book you will have seen how these tips have played out in my own relationship. But really it’s the tip from my mum that sums it up best:
On her deathbed my mother gave our marriage her blessing. “Remember darling,” she said. “Love is a decision. Every day you make the decision to love the person you’re with. Keep making that decision every day and you’ll have a long and happy marriage, even when it’s not all that happy.”
What’s next for you?
I’m writing another novel. This one will actually get published. I’m doing a writing masterclass early next year and the tutor has promised she’ll land me a publishing deal – she knows my writing and that I’ll write a marketable book.
I also have a series of non-fiction books planned which I will self publish. I want the freedom around these books to do what I want with them as far as pricing and bundling is concerned.
Thank you for this interview, Mary-Lou. Where we can find you on the web?