Bachelor of Arts (Hons.), Contemporary Studies and English, 1997
I am always interested in experimenting with new things.
Stephen Marche had a great job. It was 2007 and he was professor of Renaissance drama at the City College of New York. “It was really rewarding,” he says. “I loved my job there.”
Then he got the news: his wife, Sarah Fulford (BAH ’96), had been offered her dream job as editor of Toronto Life magazine. The family packed up and headed back to Toronto. It was, to say the least, a huge decision.
“I may be the last person alive who had a tenure job and gave it up,” Stephen says.
But that choice set him on a new course.
Stephen grew up in Edmonton, but was seduced by the possibilities he saw in the Foundation Year Programme (FYP) at King’s, so headed east. “I wanted to study the heavy literature,” he says. He continued on that path, earning a doctorate in early modern drama from the University of Toronto in 2005.
He also loved writing. Stephen’s first novel, Raymond and Hannah, was published in 2005. An anthology of short fiction, Shining at the Bottom of the Sea, followed in 2007, the year he and Sarah came back to Toronto. And once there he needed to find a job.
“Because I wasn’t an academic anymore I began to write a lot more non-fiction. I needed to make a living. So I became a freelance writer. And from that came the column in Esquire, came cover stories for the Atlantic Magazine, and came a lot of interesting reporting assignments.”
And all of that changed his writerly mind.
“I am starting to prefer the essay. Writing short fiction is a nightmare. If I have a good idea for a story it’ll take me three months to write it and a year to find a publisher…and the five hundred people who read it will probably hate it… I can write an essay and have it in The Guardian and millions of people will read it.”
And they respond to Stephen’s opinions.
“I had an essay that the guy who does my plumbing wanted to talk about. It was a piece for The Guardian about Toronto being the most fascinating, totally boring city in the world. He had a lot of strong opinions about it which is great, which is what I want.”
Stephen is lucky he married an editor. The two met at King’s and for twenty-five years Sarah has been his go-to for almost everything he writes. He says: “She’s the best editor in Canada. We talk about writing all the time. Our work is involved in our private life and our private life comes out in our work.”
Stephen’s book, The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth About Men and Women in the 21st Century, is an example of this unique partnership. Sarah offers commentary through footnotes that sometimes contradict Stephen and sometimes further develop his argument.
Stephen and Sarah have two children so it may come as no surprise that Stephen’s latest project is about parenting. It is neither essay nor novel; Stephen is working on a podcast.
“I am always interested in experimenting with new things,” he says of the podcast. “It’s so intimate. It’s so open.”