Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with Melissa Hardy

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Melissa Hardy

In Journey Prize winning author Melissa Hardy's new novel Surface Rights (Dundurn), protagonist Verna finds herself unexpectedly possessed of those titular rights. When she arrives at her family cottage for the first time in 38 years, a menacing prospector is determined to dig for ore — and informs Verna that she owns only the land and what's above it, not below.

Determined to fight for her family's legacy, Verna finds herself with unexpected allies as she deals with the grief of loss and the challenge of the prospector's greed.

Today Melissa speaks with us as part of the Dirty Dozen series, where we ask authors to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves. Melissa tells us about a racy money-making scheme, bonding with a baby parrot and the problem with birthday parties.

  1. I was christened on the stage of The Lost Colony in Manteo, North Carolina.
  2. My father wrote softcore porn to support the family during one of the lean times. His nom de plume was Michael Norday.
  3. As a tweenie, I attended a social dancing class run by a woman who was actually named “Mrs. English Bagby.”
  4. I wrote my first novel on a typewriter on my lap in bed. I still have the scars to prove it.
  5. I don’t do balls. No footballs. No softballs. No golf balls. No tennis balls. No balls, period. I have no use for them.
  6. From the time I was a teenager up through graduate school, I chewed seventy pieces of Bazooka Bubble gum a day. My father used to pick it up for me at the corner store in boxes of 432 pieces. To this day a number of the scholarly German editions of the Fathers of the Early Church found at the Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies Library on the University of Toronto campus have a pinkish hue and a peculiar odour. That’s my legacy.
  7. I didn’t graduate from high school, but I did make it to All But Dissertation for a PhD.
  8. I was married to my first husband by Rowan Williams, who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury. I don’t recall the name of the Justice of the Peace who married my second husband and me — he looked a lot like Andy Griffith — but he seems to have done a better job since that one stuck.
  9. My husband Ken and I won the Top Student Award for a Newcomer Amateur Couple at the Can Am Canadian Open Professional Dance Sport Championships. Our number was 478. I can’t recall the year.
  10. Once I bought a baby parrot who suffered from an almost always fatal liver disease. I cracked sunflower seeds and fed them to him the way a mother parrot would. As a consequence he imprinted on me and spent the remainder of his days riding around on top of my head. His name was Marcel and I loved him dearly, despite always having to explain to people why there was shit in my hair.
  11. I am a rabid knitter. Unfortunately, I’m not very good.
  12. I haven’t had a birthday party since I was seven. They make me very uncomfortable.


Melissa Hardy has published three novels and two collections of short stories, including Broken Road, The Uncharted Heart and A Cry of Bees. She has won the Journey Prize and been published in numerous journals, including The Atlantic, Exile and Descant.

For more information about Surface Rights please visit the Dundurn Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

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