Rewind to autumn 2010 in Kingston, Ontario. I’m a wide-eyed Hamiltonian-transplant, about to take on the seemingly formidable English Literature Masters at Queen’s. Except I have one teeny-tiny problem: I’m in love—and not that saccharine, marshmallowy puppylove that melts if the fire gets too hot, but the all-consuming nothing-else-matters obsessive kind of love. The kind of love that has you making illogical and extravagant propositions, like: If the computer repairman saves those thirty pages of prose on my now-defunct computer—thirty pages I just wrote this weekend, that are my first attempt at being a ‘writer’, that are the best thing I’ve ever written ever—then I will not take off to Rome in two days, even though I already have the $900 one-way ticket. Instead, I will take it as a divine sign that I am supposed to stay home this summer and write. The computer repairman was able to save my files and I cancelled my flight. I then sat down every morning that summer and let a novel fall out of me. It was my first “real” work, and so brazen and irreverent, like nothing I had ever written or thought I’d write. Once it was done, everywhere I looked there were more and more stories and words and peculiar gems to adore. I was head-over-heels in love with writing.
That September, I had no idea what a Writer-in-Residence was, but somehow, fortuitously, found myself putting together the most gender-neutral manila envelope I could (which really just meant writing in black pen, small cap letters, and signing everything C. Miscione) and putting the first thirty pages of my novel MS, raw and uncensored, inside. I slipped this envelope under the door of Watson Hall room 529, and changed my life.
Stuart Ross was the Writer-in-Residence that year. He read every single page of my novel. He introduced me to what it meant to be a writer. Because of him, I went to readings at the Grad Club (my first ever); talked words over sushi and pho; met other writers, many of whom have become my best friends; learned what chapbooks are and ephemera and writing prompts and discovered that that is very often an extraneous word. The neighbourhood I lived in felt like a reincarnation of Greenwich Village—so many artists and writers in charmingly rundown buildings, and me and a bunch of writer-friends would get together for writing workshops in our tiny apartments. I continued to write and write and write—new stories, but also edit and reedit the novel. By spring, though, I had to put the novel away in a drawer and not look at it again for a while.
Last November (2013), at Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market in Toronto, Stuart approached me and asked if I’d like to resurrect my novel. He said it was time for it to be published. I told him I’d think about it—procrastinating, intending to say no. Thing is: I was petrified of the novel. It was four years ago and intense and flagrant. It shouted and swore and didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought of it. It’s everything I am not. I was too scared.
After much from encouragement from Stuart, much mulling and pacing and questioning, I finally decided, yes, I’d resurrect it, and subsequently spent a year of my live resuscitating and taming and freeing a beast. It’s been a long journey, but I can happily say the novel is now fleshy and published (!), and will be launched this week during the Mansfield Press Fall Launch Tour. I’m thrilled because I get to: a) finally ride in the Mansfieldmobile, which I remember seeing, back when I lived in Kingston, zooming by me and my friend towards the Grad Club; I turned to my friend and said, “I hope I can be part of that one day;” b) read among some incredibly gifted Canadian writers as they launch their new books: Nelson Ball, Laura Farina, and Frank Davey; c) be surrounded by some of my dearest friends as I launch my novel into the world four years after its conception.
THE BOOK TOUR
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30TH 2014
Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Homestead, 359 Blue Lake Road · 2pm
Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide St N, London · 7pm
MONDAY, DECEMBER 1ST 2014
The Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton St, Toronto · 7:30pm
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2ND 2014
Impresario Artisan Market, 37 King Street West, Cobourg · 7pm
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3RD 2014
Black Squirrel Books & Tea, 1073 Bank St., Ottawa · 7pm
BOOKS BEING LAUNCHED:
Some Talk of Being Human, poetry by Laura Farina
Poems Suitable for Current Material Conditions, poetry by Frank Davey
Some Mornings, poetry by Nelson Ball
Carafola, my new book!