Inspired by Halifax
Photo: Ken Phipps
By Trevor J. Adams 28 November 2014 Share this story
It’s been more than a decade since he lived in Halifax, but for Mark Sampson, the seven years he spent here as a student and journalist were critical to his development as a writer. “Halifax continues to be such a big inspiration for me,” he says. “It was the first place I lived when I left home. Those were the most formative years of my life… Halifax is a city on the edge of things, which speaks to me. It’s away from the centre, on the edge of the continent, where all these different elements and influences come together.”
In Sampson’s new novel Sad Peninsula (Dundurn Press), Michael the protagonist is a Haligonian, although most of the action happens in Seoul, South Korea, where Sampson taught English not long after leaving Halifax. “One of the things that fascinated me about Seoul was the sort of colonizing effect of these communities of Western teachers, they way they sexualized and exploit the Korean women,” Sampson explains. “It was mortifying and intriguing.”
While in Seoul, Sampson learned about the Second World War comfort women (taken from their homes to be systematically raped by the occupying Japanese, forced to serve the sexual needs of the Japanese soldiers). “I saw all these thematic connections to what I was seeing while I was in Seoul,” he recalls. “I did reams of research. I read everything I could find. I wanted to get the factual framework, but I also wanted to immerse myself in aspects of the culture. In the flashback scenes, there are some moments of graphic violence, which I wanted to complement with these details of Korean life.”
Sampson reads from Sad Peninsula at the University of King’s College on December 16.
This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.
Trevor has been a magazine editor and journalist in Halifax since 1998. He's won multiple Atlantic Journalism Awards and was shortlisted for the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence in 2014.
Plus: One year of Unravel Halifax — an evolving magazine for a changing city Questions are mounting about the reliability of the region's cell-phone service, with many Nova Scotians having diffi [...]
Plus: An Egyptian family came to Halifax for a better life, but found a housing crisis and inaccessible health care In the aftermath of hurricane Fiona, hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians rema [...]
Plus: Eating well during a blackout — tips and recipes It's raining in much of the province and winds will intensify through the evening, with hurricane Fiona poised to ravage Nova Scotia tonigh [...]
Halifax artist Daniel J. Burt depicts local icons and triggers memories As hurricane Fiona bears down on the province, officials are warning Nova Scotians to brace themselves for one of the worst [...]
Plus: Since making Nova Scotia his home, Steve Vernon has built a career on sharing its lore When a gunman disguised as a Mountie was rampaging across central Nova Scotia in 2020, RCMP communicato [...]
Plus: Nova Scotia's film scene bounces back from funding uncertainty and pandemic turmoil An unusual number of dead seals are washing up on beaches in nearby Quebec and Maine.Scientists say avian [...]
Plus: The Art of City Building — Halifax event looks at how to build great urban spaces Urbanophiles are gathering in Halifax today for the Art of City Building conference, to discuss how the wo [...]