Get to Know Missy Marston!

What’s the working title of your future memoir?
On good days, it is Dynamo! If I had to decide today, I think it would be something like: Fine. It’s Fine. I’m Fine.

What is something you’ve always wanted to write about?
So many things. Aliens, hermits, religion, rodeo, building the Welland Canal or the CN Tower. Sexy menopause. Pirates. A girls’ weekend gone wrong, trouble in the man cave. You name it.

What is something you’d never write about?
I don’t think I have the discipline or guile to write a murder mystery but you never know. It holds some appeal for me.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Once, someone older and wiser than me said: You better like him exactly the way he is because people don’t change. I didn’t fully believe it at the time and I don’t now but it gave me the jolt I needed to leave a very bad relationship. I did not like him exactly as he was.

In terms of creative advice, Elvis Costello said (not directly to me, unfortunately) that sometimes we try to imitate our heroes but, because we are incapable of replicating their genius, we come up with something entirely original. Or something along those lines. He was talking about songwriting, but it can be a useful way to think about writing fiction, too.

Worst advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t overthink it. Just say the first thing that comes to mind.

What’s next on your reading list?
Right now I’m in the mood for short stories and rock and roll memoir, so next up: Beautiful Days by Joyce Carol Oates and Who I Am by Pete Townsend.

Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?
This is a picture of me taken by my youngest when she was three. I am standing in my parents’ driveway and it looks like Spring so we are probably there for an Easter visit. I was a single parent for about seven years, starting when my kids were two and five, so most pictures of me from that period are like this, taken from below. But this one has a kind of magical quality to it. It has the bright blue sky that happens when you are close to a large body of water (in this case, the St. Lawrence River). It also seems to say something about how tiny kids see their parents: torso and arms. Hold me. The face is kind of an afterthought. 

What sparked the idea for Bad Ideas?
Bad Ideas was inspired by two major disruptions in the lives of people in my hometown of Iroquois, Ontario. The first was the widening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s, which brought tens of thousands of men from across the country to dismantle, move and flood a number of small towns along the banks of the river. The second was the arrival – and lingering – of Ken Carter, the Mad Canadian, a daredevil who built a gigantic ramp in the mid-1970s, just down the road from my house, and claimed he was going to jump the river in a rocket car.

My idea was to write about these events from the very personal perspective of three generations of women: Claire (who is loved and left by a Seaway worker), her daughter, Trudy (who both loves and hates the daredevil) and Mercy, her granddaughter (who is caught in the fray).

 Thank you Missy!

Missy Marston is the author of Bad Ideas, and will be appearing at Festival Sunday on Sunday September 8, 2019.