Kissing The Damned

October 15, 2005|
Kissing The Damned by Mark Foss
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Ottawa speechwriter finds his own voice in his first collection of stories

Kissing the Damned is the first collection of short stories by Ottawa speechwriter Mark Foss. The thirteen linked stories centre around Murray Lockhart, a thirtysomething direct-mail writer working for a fictional foreign aid group called Friends of Africa. Murray is never quite certain where, or who, he's supposed to be.

One of the stories, "Escort," was a finalist at the 2004 Hamilton Writers Festival and Foss was later invited to read it at the Eden Mills Festival. "The title of the book was inspired by a line in an Indigo Girls' song," says Foss. "For me, 'kissing the damned' means embracing the shadow side —that part of ourselves we find hard to accept. The shadow doesn't have to be negative. I wanted to show a man struggling to take his own power, and how he eventually finds his strength."

The short stories are largely set in Ottawa, but several take place at a cottage on the St. Lawrence River near Brockville, Ontario. "I spent my childhood summers at the family cottage on the St. Lawrence," says Foss. "It was fun for me to play with the stuff of cottage life—the rainy-day board games, the toilet you're not supposed to flush, the pump that always needs fixing, and the cultural tensions between Canada and the United States, which is just across the river."

On a more serious note, Foss acknowledges Murray's father and his own father share similarities. "As I worked on the stories over the past decade, I tried for a long time to pretend Burt Lockhart was someone other than my father. When I finally accepted that I was really writing about my father's emotional truth—the loss of a best friend in the Second World War—the writing reached deeper."

In addition to drawing on his personal life to develop the stories, Foss also drew on nearly twenty years of professional experience in the field of foreign aid and international development. He continues to write speeches for federal cabinet ministers and the non-profit community about these, and other issues. He is also at work on an historical novel.

Mark Foss has worked for two foreign-aid groups, and continues to write professionally about international development. His short fiction has appeared in The New Quarterly, B&A New Fiction and other Canadian literary journals since 1993. CBC broadcast his first radio drama in 2001.
Title:Kissing The Damned
Product dimensions:129 pages, 8.5 X 5.5 X 1 in
Shipping dimensions:129 pages, 8.5 X 5.5 X 1 in
Published:October 15, 2005
Publisher:Oberon Press
Appropriate for ages:All ages
ISBN - 13:9780778012795

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