Q&A: An Insider Look At Maria Failla's New Book: Growing Joy
Q: Congrats on your book and thank you for sitting down with us for an exclusive insider interview! We’d love to know more about behind the scenes, what was the book creation process like?
A: Thank you my friend! It feels so special to be celebrating this exciting moment with Wallygrow, one of my OG partners, supporters and plant friends. The process of getting Growing Joy to bookshelves has taken TWO full years. It took about 6 months to develop the concept, shop the proposal and sign the book deal and then about 5 months to write the first draft and then 5 more months of revisions/design. Then when the book was officially edited it was another 5-6 months to get it printed. My patience has been TESTED and I’m so excited to finally bring this love letter to plants to the plant community. I’m so proud to share it.
Q: Most of us know you from Bloom and Grow Radio, how did you make the shift from radio to print?
A: I never dreamed of writing a book, actually. I had an amazing opportunity presented to me by a listener who happened to be an editor at a fancy publisher, Gwen Hawkes. Gwen knew that I had a throughline on my podcast of “Plant Side Chats” that were mini episodes where I talked about life lessons learned from plants, and knew that plants were a huge part of my mental health, and she approached me to see if I would be interested in writing a book about how to use plants as a self care tool. I was initially shocked and needed a minute to really evaluate if I wanted to write a book and if I did, how I would make it unique but the concept and title, Growing Joy, hit me like a 2 ton bag of potting mix, and I developed an outline in about 48 hours. It was a truly magical experience. The rest is history!
Q: The books on our site are very popular during the holiday season, what makes your book a good gift? Who is it for?
A: From Day 1, Gwen and I knew that this book was giftable and so we designed it very initially to look beautiful as a gift on it’s own, or paired with a book. It’s illustrated by Samantha Leung, of Hemleva and is so gorgeously designed. The illustrations definitely elevate the book and I could see it being used as a coffee table book, even though it’s not hard cover. The fact that the cover is flexibound (like if a hard cover and soft cover had a baby), it makes it very light and easy to throw in a purse and bring to a park or botanical garden to read.
I think it’s also super giftable because it’s a book about self care. This is such a great addition to anyone’s bookshelves who either 1) like plants or 2) have an interest in mindfulness/wellness. It would pair so beautifully with a plant as a little gift set as well! This book is all about how the reader can live a more mindful, happy life. Who wouldn’t want to gift that to their loved ones?
Q: What key elements differentiate your book from the other amazing plant books on the shelves?
A: I think Growing Joy is an really unique addition to the amazing catalog of plant books out there because it’s really a self care/self improvement book, not a plant care book. (I do have a “Plant Killer to Plant Person” Crash Course at the end though for whoever needs it!). The entire book is dedicated to helping people enrich their existing relationships with plants and nature, or forge a new one in order to disconnect from screens and reconnect with themselves. I personally haven’t seen a book like it on the market. So Growing Joy makes a perfect addition to any plant shelves out there because it’s a completely newer take on how to care for ourselves through caring for plants.
Q: We so value you as a partner and a friend, how have WallyGrow’s planters help shape you to the plant person you are today?
A: Oh my goodness my greenwall of Ecos in my first apartment where I cared for plants successfully was a complete game changer for me. I have never had a knack for interior design, and always felt a little intimidated by the gorgeous plant accounts I would follow on the internet. The Wallygrow Ecos made achieving that dreamy, Instagram quality greenwall and/or gallerywall I was pinning all over my pinterest page an effortless reality. I remember looking at my Husband in disbelief at how easy they were to plant and install and we marveled at how happy our plants were in them. They even started attaching to the wall! So the Ecos really helped empower me to create the planty home I wanted, even if I was intimidated by all of the intense DIY projects.
Q: Last, any funny or unusual stories that came with writing the book?
A: A few come to mind:
- First off, because I got the offer to write this book in the pandemic, the entire process was virtual. I met my Editor, Agent, Illustrator and entire launch team virtually. I only met my Editor IRL about a year and a half into the process! The fact that writing a book is so collaborative, yet it was just me, in my cabin in the woods, on Zoom calls, felt so unexpected and surreal. I think I’ve only just started processing that I actually wrote a book that will be in bookstores last week when I had my first book launch event. This whole process has been so wild!
- I signed my book deal virtually in a doctors office waiting for a Covid test. I feel like online I’ve seen these videos of people signing their contracts and crying, being surrounded by their team or loved ones and toasting with champagne. Nope, not me!
- I finished the book on a flight to my bachelorette party! I was three weeks past my deadline and knew I needed to finish the book before my big weekend where I needed to cut loose so I was dead set on finishing it before I touched ground! I remember crying the entire time I wrote the acknowledgements, they are so emotional and I’m sure whoever was sitting next to me on that flight had NO idea what this crazy girl crying into her keyboard was doing.