News and Interviews

May 2018 writer-in-residence Mark Sampson on Indoor Life, the Music in His Head, and Cocktailing


Mark Sampson does it all. From poetry to short stories to humour writing, Sampson's literary chameleon quality has garnered him wide acclaim as a versatile, insightful, wickedly witty writer. Now Mark is adding yet another line to his c.v.: We're thrilled to announce that he will be Open Book's May 2018 writer-in-residence!

Mark's newest book is The Slip (Dundurn Press), a timely examination of call out culture, personal responsibility, the experience of going viral, and how to live in our new media landscape. 

The Slip follows Dr. Philip Sharpe, a philosophy professor and public intellectual who, in a televised debate, says something he really shouldn't. When Sharpe's 'slip' goes viral, his reputation, marriage, and future are all up in the air. The Toronto Star praised the novel saying "The Slip offers comedy with bite. It also reserves ample space for heart" while Publishers Weekly called it "riotous but astute."

We are so excited to have Mark on Open Book for a whole month, so don't miss his upcoming posts on our writer-in-residence page starting tomorrow, May 1. And you can get to know him here as Mark takes our version of the famous Proust Questionnaire, telling us about the benefits of an indoor life and why you definitely want an invite for drinks at his place, and then making us get a little bit weepy when he shares his greatest accomplishment. 

What is your dream of happiness?

To live and work and be with my loved ones and carry on as I choose provided I’m not harming anyone else. I have fairly simplistic dreams.

What is your idea of misery?

Being outdoors for more than four consecutive hours. I inherited none of my dad’s outdoorsman’s spirit – he loves to hunt, fish, garden, camp, etc. – and I much prefer a life inside.

Where would you like to live?

Not permanently, but I really dug Hanoi, Vietnam when I visited there nearly 15 years ago. It was the single coolest, most laid-back city I’d ever been in. I’d definitely spend six to eight months there if possible.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

Honesty, integrity, and courage.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

The desire to gently but firmly correct me should I ever imply that women should be admired for different qualities than men.

What is your chief characteristic?

Perhaps my discipline. Or should we call it my obsessiveness?

What is your principal fault?

I spend way, way too much time daydreaming that I’m much more successful than I am. I find it very hard to live in the moment and just appreciate what I’ve done.

What is your greatest extravagance?

My home bar. I’ve taken to cocktailing (hey, it’s a verb!) over the last number of years, and I usually have every spirit, liqueur, syrup, garnish, and accoutrement known to man on hand at all times.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

Flakiness. I’m always so staid and boring by comparison.

What do you value most about your friends?

That they’ve stuck with me.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?


What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?

My silent judging.

What is your favourite occupation?

Full-time author. Oh, to dream!

What historical figure do you admire the most?

Muhammad Ali.

Who is your favourite musician?

Alas, my favourite band of recent years just announced they’re breaking up: Hey Rosetta!, from St. John’s. Their tunes sound like the inside of my head. 

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

To play, read, and compose music flawlessly. 

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Marrying my wife, fellow author Rebecca Rosenblum.


Mark Sampson is the author of the novels Off BookSad Peninsula, and The Slip, as well as a short-story collection, The Secrets Men Keep, and a poetry collection, Weathervane. He has published fiction and poetry in literary journals across Canada. Mark lives in Toronto.