A Conversation with Missy Marston, Author of BAD IDEAS

Missy Marston’s second novel Bad Ideas has been winning over readers since it was published in the spring, and it’s this year’s selection for the City of Markham’s Markham Reads Program AND the August Pick for All Lit Up’s Summer book club. If you haven’t read it yet, you’ll want to after checking out our Q&A with the author.

Briny Books: What’s the part of your book that you’re most proud of—the scene you can’t believe you pulled off, the part you most want to highlight, the passage you’d like to enclose in brackets with a note underlined: I WROTE THIS?

Missy Marston: Without a doubt my favourite part of Bad Ideas is the ending, those last two pages. Sometimes—rarely, for me—the best writing comes fast and furious and fully formed. This was like that. I couldn’t bear to change a word. 

Briny Books: Was there a part of your narrative that surprised you as your book came together, suggesting that the author isn’t always completely in charge of her work and something deeper and weirder is going on? 

Missy Marston: I had a pretty good idea where this book was going from the beginning, so there weren’t a lot of surprising turns in the plot. What did surprise me was how I felt writing the Jules Tremblay scenes. There is an obvious distance between my life and that of a ’70s daredevil, but every time I wrote from his perspective, it felt vivid and real. I was not expecting that.

Briny Books: Public readings (and learning to do them) are a big part of an author’s experience. But is there a part of your book that you know you’ll never have the nerve to read out loud? 

Missy Marston: I like reading from this book—the characters are boisterous and rowdy, and therefore pretty entertaining. The only thing that stops me from reading certain passages is a fear of giving too much away. It is meant to be a pretty brisk, suspenseful read. Revealing a key detail too early could easily pop that balloon, I think. 

Briny Books: What has been your favourite reader response to your book so far? 

Missy Marston: There have been some good ones. Jules Tremblay was inspired by Ken Carter, who built a giant ramp down the road from my childhood home so he could jump the St. Lawrence River in a rocket car. An early reader from my home town sent me a nice note and a picture of the book at the original site of the (now torn down) ramp. Even though the book is set in a fictional town, it is deeply reassuring to hear from people from the Seaway Valley who like it and find it authentic. 

I also had a book blogger, Naomi MacKinnon of Consumed by Ink, read the book and liked Bad Ideas so much she also read my first novel, The Love Monster, and gave both books glowing reviews in a single post. That was pretty sweet. 

Briny Books: What book(s) is/are you reading at the moment? 

Missy Marston I am reading Who I Am, by Pete Townsend and Close Range, by Annie Proulx and am loving both. Pete Townsend is fascinating and eloquent, and Annie Proulx is an incredibly effective risk taker. A young woman falls in love with a tractor in one of the stories in this collection and Proulx somehow manages to make it heartbreaking and believable. How?

Get tickets for Missy Marston’s event at the Markham Village Library on Thursday August 15 at 7pm.