Hardy, Melissa 1952-
HARDY, Melissa 1952-
PERSONAL: Born April 26, 1952, in Chapel Hill, NC; daughter of William (a novelist) and Martha Nell (a professor; maiden name, Zant) Hardy; married James Miller (a professor), May 17, 1977 (divorced); married Ken Trevenna (a musician, dean, and executive officer); children: (first marriage) Sabrina Miller, Alice Miller, William Miller; (stepchildren from second marriage) Shanah, Raina. Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A. (with honors), 1974; University of Toronto, M.A., 1976.
ADDRESSES: Home—London, Ontario, Canada. Agent—Frances Hanna, Acacia House Publishing Services, 51 Acacia Rd., Toronto, Ontario M4S 2K6, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Novelist and author of short fiction. London and St. Thomas Real Estate Board, London, Ontario, Canada, communications officer. Mediaeval Academy of America, Cambridge, MA, former editor's assistant; University of Western Ontario, creative writing instructor.
AWARDS, HONORS: Journey Prize, 1994, for "Long Man the River"; Canadian Authors' Silver Jubilee Award, 2001.
The Cry of Bees (novel), Viking (New York, NY), 1970.
Constant Fire (short stories), Oberon Press (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1995.
The Uncharted Heart (short stories), Knopf Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
Contributor of short fiction to periodicals, including Antigonish Review, Atlantic, Dalhousie Review, Descant, Exile, New Quarterly, Ontario Review, Story, and Prairie Fire. Work represented in anthologies, including Best Canadian Short Stories of 1993, Oberon, 1994; Voices and Echoes Anthology, Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1997; Best American Short Stories of 1999, Houghton Mifflin, 1999; and The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, St. Martin's Press, 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The novels The Trader of Qualla and The Vision; Northern Days and Southern Nights and The Geomancer's Compass, short-story collections; The Mummies of Casteldurante, a "dank little tale of decay and corruption set in early nineteenth-century Italy in the Marches region."
SIDELIGHTS: Novelist and short-story writer Melissa Hardy once told CA: "I stopped writing for ten years because I was in graduate school studying late antique history. I stopped attending graduate school because I'm a born liar and this is disapproved of by historians, though applauded in artists. I started writing again chiefly because there's no other way to understand or impose order, however fictive, on my life." Hardy's works include the novel The Cry of Bees and two short-story collections, Constant Fire and The Uncharted Heart.
In an interview with GlobeBooks.com contributor Sandra Martin, Hardy described her long and often interrupted career as a writer, which began when she was only sixteen years old. Hardy's first book, The Cry of Bees, was written when the author was still in high school. When she finished the book, Hardy gave it to her father, who was also a writer of fiction, and he sent it to his agent; shortly afterward it was published. Unfortunately, after her book came out Hardy began to have difficulty at school. Her teachers, she told Martin, "told me to design my own course…. Nobody wanted me in class."
More recently Hardy has focused her attention on the short story. The tales in Constant Fire are linked by setting: all take place in the mountains of western North Carolina, and they draw heavily on the history and mythology of the Cherokee Nation. Hardy's father worked for the Cherokee Historical Association, producing a drama each year that detailed the events leading up to the removal of the Cherokees from their homeland to Oklahoma, a trip referred to as the Trail of Tears. Witnessing—and even acting in—this drama while growing up impressed Hardy, and in Constant Fire she provides her own impressions of the impact of this era on the American consciousness.
The short stories in The Uncharted Heart are also linked by place, This time, however, the place is Timmins, located in northern Canada, the birthplace of Hardy's husband. Timmins was originally settled during the gold and silver rush. Hardy became interested in the history of the place, gathered information from locals and the Internet, and ended up creating a fictional history through her stories featuring various characters. "In eight tightly knit stories," wrote Nancy Schiefer in a review for Canoe.ca, "centred on themes of survival and endurance, Hardy brings to life a motley collection of fur traders, trappers, Hudson's Bay Company clerks, and burdened women who flooded into Northern Ontario." Gloria Hildebrandt, writing for Books in Canada, described The Uncharted Heart as "an uplifting, triumphant book," despite the fact that in all the stories "Work is hard….Winters are long…. Death is familiar." Hildebrandt pointed out that the manner in which Hardy writes about death keeps the tone from becoming depressing. "Yet in this book death is presented and regarded as part of life, which goes on. Children are buried, bereaved spouses remarry, more animals are bred." Life is celebrated in Hardy's stories, and it is a life that, despite tragedies, "remains worth living." In Toronto's Globe and Mail Candace Fertile also had praise for the novel, noting that in "luminous" prose, Hardy spins stories that are "overflowing with concrete language, making the images leap off the page." The Uncharted Heart, noted Fertile, "is a remarkable evocation of events and place in Canadian history, a discerning examination of human motivation and behaviour, and an adroit use of language."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books in Canada, July, 2001, Gloria Hildebrandt, "Secrets and Survival," p. 44.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 1996, review of Constant Fire, p. 185.
Canadian Literature, autumn, 1997, Sharon R. Wilson, review of Constant Fire, p. 137; summer, 2003, Afra Kavanagh, "Risk Taking," pp. 175-176.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 9, 2001, Candace Fertile, review of The Uncharted Heart.
Quill & Quire, June, 1995, review of Constant Fire, p. 37; July, 2001, review of The Uncharted Heart, p. 38.
Canoe.ca, http://www.canoe.ca/ (December 5, 2001), Nancy Schiefer, "Beautiful Snapshots from a Different World."
GlobeBooks.com, http://www.GlobeBooks.com/ (April 8, 2002), Sandra Martin, "So, Where's She Been All These Years?"
Melissa Hardy Web site, http://www.melissahardy.com (February 14, 2004).*