By day, Mark Sedore works as a communications writer for U of T president David Naylor. The 31-year-old is also a Master’s student and a novelist. Last year, he won the 3-Day Novel contest over Labour Day weekend. Sedore had placed well in the contest in previous years. On his third try, he won with Snowmen, a tale of two brothers torn apart by illness, glory, and a journey to the Arctic. Sedore sat down with The Varsity to talk about writing, PhD ambitions, and his X-rated Boy Scout zine.
THE VARSITY: Tell us about other writing experiences. You had a zine?
MARK SEDORE: Me and my best friend were in scouts way longer than anyone should ever be in scouts—like until our twenties. He works at OISE, and actually did the 3-Day Novel Contest with me. We were going to camps and in the higher levels it’s co-ed. It’s just a big party and less survival skills-ish, although the spirit of community, helping, and service are still there.
It had been a long discussion amongst us for years about having this crazy zine and writing whatever we wanted, just getting it out to people. It was terribly successful. But we didn’t believe in censoring ourselves, so if somebody sent in something with a bunch of swear words in it, we would just print that.
We had a cover contest one time where people could submit their covers and my friend’s cousin, who’s kind of a prankster, sent in his submission and it was just a full-frontal nudity shot of a dude with [the name of the zine written on] his member…So we printed that and gave them out to probably 1,800 kids from across Ontario. This particular cover was tremendously successful with the girl guide leaders who were there. Naturally, Scouts Canada didn’t think too highly [of it].
TV: What was your writing process like?
MS: I didn’t really have an outline but the format of the novel was sort of easy to follow. I just decided 24 chapters, 1,500 words per chapter minimum, eight chapters a day—regardless of when I woke up, what kind of naps I took, or how much beer I drank. Eight chapters before giving in at night.
I knew that each chapter would alternate in time. One would take place in the present tense and all the even chapters would take place in the past. I just put all the chapters on sticky notes on the wall while I was working, so I could just tear them down as I was going.
TV: Do you plan to write more novels?
MS: All along I’ve been writing novels, it’s just now being published. I don’t foresee a time when I’ll be quitting my day job to write novels. That doesn’t seem very economically feasible, especially [since] I’m applying to PhD programs [in political science] in the fall and paying for that.
TV: Do you plan on becoming a professor?
MS: David Naylor anticipates I’ll become a professor. I don’t see that, I don’t know if that’s what I want. But I’ve never TA’d before, I’ve never had a class, I’ve never sat down and led a discussion. The reason I’m doing the PhD is because I like sitting around a room talking about great books with other people who also like the same thing and have read them. If the only way I can keep doing that is by being some sort of lecturer and sitting down with smart kids once a week and talking about Plato, maybe that’s not a bad life.
Snowmen will be released in August 2010 by 3-Day Books and distributed by Arsenal Pulp Press.