We’re delighted to introduce Marisa De Los Santos to you today. Her most recent novel, THE PRECIOUS ONE, is one of our spring book club selections. But she’s also written LOVE WALKED IN, BELONG TO ME, FALLING TOGETHER, and two middle grade novels; SAVING LUCAS BIGGS and CONNECT THE STARS. If you’ve never read one of her novels, please don’t wait any longer. They are, quite simply, beautiful.
Prior to coming up with the idea for The Precious One, I’d been thinking a lot about second chances, about people walking out of one life and plunging headlong into another. Second chance stories suddenly seemed to be everywhere: a friend moving to Spain and opening a restaurant, another deciding to have a baby after four happily child-free decades. Divorces, remarriages, adoptions, Iron Man triathlons. As a mostly risk-averse, change-wary person, I found these stories irresistible. After all, even if you act out of desperation, remaking your life takes courage. It takes vision.
But what I began to notice is that most of the stories I was reading and hearing were told from the perspective of the person embarking on the new life. I began to wonder about the first-life people, the ones left behind. And that’s when the idea for The Precious One came to me, although calling it an idea is a stretch. It wasn’t even a sentence, just a fragment, not a story but a situation: two sisters, one from their father’s first marriage, one from his second, who don’t know each other at all.
First, Taisy came to me, just the slenderest shadow of her. The first-life sister, a woman in her mid-thirties who had lived half her life all but estranged from her father. Taisy occupied my imagination for months, and I learned her, bit-by-bit. Some weeks, I’d suddenly pop open a window into a whole broad swath of her inner life; others, I’d discover just tiny pieces of Taisy: the color of her hair; her favorite subject in high school; that when she’s worried or contemplative, she drives, aimlessly, sometimes for hours. The development of Taisy felt to me as it always does, not like creation, but like discovery, as if she existed, a real person in the world, and my job was to know her.
Eventually I uncovered more of her story, and suddenly, there was her father Wilson, imperious, disapproving, sometimes cruel. And I learned that despite all the reasons she knows she should cut Wilson out of her life, Taisy has never stopped longing for her father to love her. So then Wilson, that brilliant, prickly man, took up residence in my head, and I learned right away that the central fact of his life was his love for his daughter Willow, the second-chance daughter, the precious one. I discovered that Wilson loves her so much that he’s made a project out of it, trying to get every single thing right, to shelter her from not only everything dangerous, but everything ordinary. Initially, I thought Wilson might be my second protagonist, but as soon as Willow emerged, sixteen years old, with her confidence and her vulnerability, her head full of knowledge and her breathtaking naïvete, I knew The Precious One would belong to the sisters.
I knew that if only I could figure out how to get them into each other’s lives, get these two complicated women to collide, amazing things would happen, and my story—their story—would begin.