Beneath the Covers Past

Mary Campisi's Interview
Review of Simple Riches


An Interview with Mary Campisi
By Suzie Housley
September 2002

Mary Campisi started working on her first novel almost ten years ago– with three children under the age of five and a marriage that was ending, writing was the only form of therapy she could afford!  She found there was such power in the ‘delete’ key!  Don’t like that character?  Zap-gone!  She found it was a very cathartic experience- just her, her dreams and that old 286 computer. But, once her life settled down, and took on what would be a new sense of normalcy for her, she stepped away from the computer and the story.  It wasn’t until years later, after she’d remarried and was unpacking belongings for their new home that she came across the old story.  Actually, she was looking for computer games for the kids when she put in the old 5 ½” floppy disk and up popped the first 100 pages of that old story.  She’d forgotten all about it.  She stopped, read it, and knew that she wanted to finish it. 

That was just the beginning… 

Her life is still crazy but in a very good way- she is married to a wonderful, supportive man and she is  the proud mother of three/stepmother of two, (yes, that equals five!), extremely unique, energetic children, ages 11-18.  And she cannot neglect to mention her most faithful companion, Molly, a six year old black lab who walks with her while she plots scenes, shares lunch with her and lounges by her side while her imagination pours out the pages.  She feels she is truly blessed. 

Suzie Housley: Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life?

Mary Campisi:  I grew up in a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania.  The population was around 4,000, about the same as Restalline in Simple Riches and the closest city was two hours away.  There was no mall, no McDonald’s, no year round movie theater!

As for writing, I have always written in one form or another, so yes, it has always been a part of my life.  Reading enabled me to dream of other places, people, opportunities outside of my small town and I often took the two mile trek to our local library. 


Suzie Housley:  How did you come up with such an interesting character Alexandra 'Alex' 
Chamberlain ?

Mary Campisi: Alex Chamberlain came from my desire to mesh cosmopolitan and country life; my life then and now.  Even though I live in the suburbs and not the heart of a city, it is so far removed from the kind of place where I grew up, that I wanted to piece the two together, introduce cosmo to country.


Suzie Housley:  How do you determine what to name your characters?

Mary Campisi:  I usually play around with names and situations.  Alex or Alexandra seems high brow, sophisticated to me- it’s also the middle name of one of my daughters.


Suzie Housley:  Could you tell how you come to select the scenes for each of your books?

Mary Campisi: Well, imagination is such a wonderful thing!  First, I come up with a general idea, then I spend weeks subconsciously and consciously plugging in names, dates, and situations to see if they make sense.  I always know I want to evoke a certain feeling so I play with scenes and situations, observing, rewinding, erasing as if I were watching a movie, until I get the feeling and the picture I want.


Suzie Housley:  Did you take any special training to begin writing or did it come "naturally"?

Mary Campisi: Writing began with a need to tell a story; the rest is a compilation of reading and a desire to express myself.


Suzie Housley:  Do you treat writing like a job, always sitting down for a set time everyday?

Mary Campisi: Life revolves around my family which includes my husband, three children, two stepchildren, and a black lab.  That said, I try to maintain a fairly structured schedule during the school year which is Monday through Friday from about 10 am- 2 pm, depending on doctor’s appointments, orthodontic visits, etc.  Summers are another story- when the kids get out of school, it’s hard to collect my thoughts let alone keep them together long enough to get them on a page- but I try!


Suzie Housley:  Who was the greatest influence in your decision to become a writer?

Mary Campisi: I have always been a writer but to actually pursue it in true fashion?  This one is easy- my husband.  He encouraged me to live my dream and for this I will always be grateful.


Suzie Housley:  Of all of your books you have published which one is your favorite? Why?

Mary Campisi: I love all of my books because each of them has special meaning for me but I would say that my favorite is Simple Riches because it takes me back to my roots. 


Suzie Housley:  Why did you write PARADISE FOUND? Tell us about this book. How long did it take to write?

Mary Campisi:  I wrote Paradise Found because I wanted to search for the answer to the question, ‘How does one see truly, with the heart or with the eyes?’  Often, first impressions take over or we can’t get past a person’s outward appearance to the real person beneath the designer clothes or extra ten pounds.  In Paradise Found, I stripped everything away, took Matthew Brandon’s sight and forced him to see, really see.  And the whole east coast, west coast, scenario worked well because Matt was such a high profile figure and Sara was so down to earth.  It took me about six months to write Paradise Found.


Suzie Housley:  Where did the title SIMPLE RICHES come from?

Mary Campisi: Actually, my friend and I were attending a conference together and my editor told me she needed a title within the next week.  So, my friend and I started brainstorming, and she came up with Riches and I added Simple.  It was perfect and my editor loved it.


Suzie Housley:  How long does it usually take you to create a book and get it to the publication stage? 

Mary Campisi:  I usually start playing around with an idea for a new book about two months before I complete the project I’m working on.  I only work on one book at a time.  This way I focus all of my energy on just one project and for me, it works well.  When I’m ready to actually begin work on a book, I write out in depth character sketches, first using a ‘web’ like my children do in school, and then transferring into paragraph form with a brief outline.  Once I start writing, it usually takes me between 5-6 months to complete. 


Suzie Housley: Is there any book in particular based on facts, which actually happened based on instances in your own life? 

Mary Campisi: I think bits and pieces of our lives flow into our books, whether through conscious or unconscious effort, but no, my stories are creations of my own imaginings... though my mother swears that Stella Androvich from Simple Riches is her.  (She's right!)


Suzie Housley: What future works in progress can we look forward to seeing? Will they also be romances? 

Mary Campisi: In January, The Butterfly Garden will be released with Kensington.  This book is a combination romance and women’s fiction dealing with two sisters and their struggle to come to terms with themselves and each other.  There’s a dependable sister, Grace, who’s involved in an auto accident that kills her husband and leaves her in a coma making it necessary for the undependable sister, Jenny, to return and care for Grace’s two children.  And there’s a great guy named Elliot in this one.


Suzie Housley: How can fans contact you?

Mary Campisi: I would love to hear from readers.  My website is  I may be contacted at or by snail mail at Zebra Books, 850 Third Avenue, New York, NY  10022.


by Mary Campisi
Zebra - August 2002
ISBN: 081272813 - Paperback - $5.99 US 
Contemporary Romance

Reviewed by: Suzie Housley, MyShelf.Com
Buy a Copy

Apple pie . . .star lit nights . . . butterflies . . .These are the simple riches that make the world go around.

 Alexandra 'Alex' Chamberlain was orphaned at an early age. Her Uncle and Aunt raised her, and she grew up craving the attention of her guardians. She discovered that the key to obtaining the attention she craved was through working with her Uncle. Her job as a Scouter allowed her to seek out future building sites for luxury resorts. Unknowingly to her prey, she would move into the very town that she had pin pointed out to learn secrets that would almost guarantee she was successful in her venture. Her latest project was located in the small quaint town of Restalline, Pennsylvania. A widow and her son were the only thing that stood in her way from gaining their prized land. What was to be an easy conquest was met with resistance and emotion that she had never
counted on feeling.

 Dr. Nick Androvich had returned to his hometown of Restalline with haunting memories and a small son to raise. He had lost his wife in a Chicago inferno that he felt was partially his fault. He was intent on trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild his shattered life. He relished the fact that life never seemed to change in his loveable home place - no matter how many years you stayed away. He was determined to make a new life for both himself and his son.

The forces that brought Nick and Alex together are the ones that will surely tear one of them apart. Which one of these strong individuals would win out and accept the change the other one offers? 

This makes the second Mary Campisi novel that I have had the privilege of reading/reviewing. As in fine wine, her writing style only gets better with age. This beautiful story will have you longing to revisit your home place. Her smooth compelling plot will leave other authors green with envy. Such flawless writing is to be commended.

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