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Maggie Knox is the pen name for writing duo Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley. Brown is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of five novels, including the #1 national bestseller Recipe for a Perfect Wife, as well as the non-fiction bestseller The 4% Fix: How one hour can change your life. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Self, Redbook, Today’s Parent, and Chatelaine. She lives just outside Toronto with her family and a labradoodle named Fred. Stapley is a former magazine editor and the internationally bestselling author of four novels: Mating for Life, Things to Do When It’s Raining, The Last Resort, and Lucky. Marissa Stapley’s journalism has appeared in magazines and newspapers across North America, including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Elle, Today’s Parent, and Reader’s Digest. She lives in Toronto with her family and a precocious black cat named Oscar. The Holiday Swap was their first novel writing together as Maggie Knox.

What’s the strangest thing you searched for on the internet for your novel? 

Karma: I’m trying to remember now, but one of the stranger things I had to look up was what would happen if you got a head injury in a snowstorm. Like, what does it look like when blood freezes on the snow, and how quickly the cold works to slow the bleeding. Sorry, everyone! I know that is not very Christmas-y and certainly not romance-like. But, hey, research is research. 

Marissa: The sheer volume of dessert recipe searches I did was an anomaly for me. I love delicious desserts but am more of a home cook than a baker – I use recipes more as inspiration which of course doesn’t work when baking, where you have to follow the recipe precisely. I’d get a vague idea of something I wanted to be made on the reality baking show set and then have to send hours researching whether such a thing was actually possible! 

What book (or author) made you fall in love with the romance genre? 

Karma: I fell in love with romance around 1987, thanks to Danielle Steele! But two more recent books that I loved were THE HATING GAME (see next question for why) by Sally Thorne, and Helen Hoang’s THE KISS QUOTIENT, which was so sexy and utterly captivating. 

Marissa: I fell hard for UK rom com author Mhairi McFarlane a few years ago because she reminded me of my original rom com love, Marian Keyes who in my opinion does the most beautiful job of blending romantic stories with stories about female relationships – sisterhood, motherhood, friendship. I also recently read and adored Evie Drake Starts Over, by Linda Holmes. I’m a baseball fan so the pitcher male lead really worked for me, as did the sexy romance of the story. 

What is your favourite trope? Why? 

Karma: I’m a sucker for a killer enemies-to-lovers story, which is why THE HATING GAME stands out for me as a favorite. Thorne handled that trope brilliantly, in my opinion. 

Marissa: Same here, and we just might be working on an enemies-to-lovers story for our next novel. But honestly, I love a good twin swap! I’m sure I watched “The Parent Trap” a hundred times as a kid. So writing The Holiday Swap was just so much fun. 

It’s the morning after, and a lover is making your main character the perfect breakfast in bed. What is it? 

Karma: Well, I’ll take Charlie for this question. So, Jake is making her…two butter-fried, sunny-side up eggs (with a sprinkle of paprika on top), sliced fresh tomatoes, homemade raisin and cinnamon toast, and a giant latte. 

Marissa: And if we’re talking about Cass, I think Miguel has just popped out for some coffee from the nearby shop where they had their meet-cute and some decadent cinnamon buns, extra icing – to be eaten in bed, of course. 

What book are you reading currently? 

Karma: I always have a few books on the go at a time, but I’m about to dive into an early read of Adriana Trigiani’s latest, THE GOOD LEFT UNDONE, which I’m very excited about. I’m also re-reading THE SHINING, because I’m a huge horror fan so I always like to have something scary on the go. 

Marissa: I’m currently enjoying Uzma Jalaluddin’s Hana Khan Carries On, which is also a rom com with a plot that turns on food and the restaurant industry, and just got my hands on Alice Hoffman’s latest, The Rules of Magic. I’m a total sucker for a good witchy story! 

The rapid fire question – Perfect First Date: snowy night skate and hot cider or fancy chef’s table meal with flight of wine? 

Karma: Snowy night skate (though can it be a walk? I hung up my skates years ago) with hot cider, EVERY SINGLE TIME. 

Marissa: Fancy dinner and wine, all the way! A friend of mine once went on a first date to Eigensinn Farm, an upscale dinner in a rural farmhouse setting where if you live in the city it’s best to stay the night. Although all I can say is it didn’t go well, I was still very impressed. (Also, my first date with my husband was a 36 hour road trip, which is a story for another day and obviously did go well.) 

Read our review of The Holiday Swap here.

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