Shawn Bird, an English teacher who once taught at Eagle River Secondary and now works at Salmon Arm Secondary, penned a darkly-comic novel called Murdering Mr. Edwards which draws on her experience in a school setting. (Ava Franklin Photo)

Shuswap teacher writes novella on murderous plots at school

Book inspired by author Shawn Bird’s colleagues at Eagle River Secondary.

How would you kill the English teacher?

That is the question Shawn Bird, a creative writing instructor herself, asked several of her colleagues at Eagle River Secondary in 2014. Their answers planted the seed for what would eventually become the darkly-comic novella Murdering Mr. Edwards.

There is no self-hatred at work in Bird’s decision on who should be the victim of the murderous plots afoot in the fictional high school she created – she says English teachers are simply the natural victims in a high school setting.

“I was asking my colleagues, how could you murder someone in your area of the school?” Bird said.

“The only answer from anyone who taught English was, the pen is mightier that the sword. I thought to myself, that’s kind of wimpy, I’d better make the English teacher the victim.”

What grew from joking conversations around the break room table eventually became a novella organized into a series of “tales” detailing each staff member of the fictional Canterbury High’s widely-varied plots to kill Mr. Edwards.

Related:Author weaves nuggets of fact into fiction

Edwards, an obnoxious and widely-loathed member of the school’s English faculty, is a character who Bird expects the audience to feel little sympathy for as he meets his end.

“Mr. Edwards is kind of an amalgam of every irritating person that you’ve ever worked with in your career,” Bird said.

She said the fictional English teacher wears regressive and misogynistic viewpoints on his sleeve, and his pompous privilege and obliviousness drive his colleagues crazy.

The murderous methods each staff member dreams up reflects their area of expertise; for example the titular character of The Physics Teacher’s Tale devises a large Rube Goldberg machine to take out Edwards.

“Some of them have some mighty skills that lean towards death and mayhem,” Bird said of the Canterbury High’s staff.

She acknowledges the roots of the plots targeting Mr. Edwards as well as some of the small details she used to bring Canterbury High to life are rooted in her time at ERS. She described hearing her colleagues imagining the extent of what could go wrong in the various departments of the school as a joyful collaboration.

Related:Penticton man recalls war experience, through Lake Country author

Since it was published last April, Bird has given copies of Murdering Mr. Edwards to her Eagle River Secondary colleagues who inspired the plots that fill its pages. Bird said the book was met with excellent reviews and lots of laughter.

Bird is now a senior English teacher at Salmon Arm Secondary.

Five of the stories which were eventually included in Murdering Mr. Edwards were written while Bird was teaching at ERS.

The remaining seven core tales as well as three additional stories were added after an initial manuscript wowed a representative of Coffin Hop Press at a writer’s conference in Calgary.

Murdering Mr. Edwards is available at Hidden Gems Bookstore and Bookingham Palace in Salmon Arm.

It can also be ordered online through Coffin Hop Press’ website or on Amazon.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UPDATE: Man possibly arrested at Rutland stand off

Water is flooding Highway 33 in Kelowna Monday afternoon

McCurdy project in Rutland gets go-ahead from Kelowna councillors

Controversial supportive housing project expected to break ground this summer

Judas Priest rocks Kelowna’s Prospera Place

Judas Priest is on a 32 date tour of North America

Restrictive policies affecting labour mobility for care aides in B.C.

‘I had to take two competency exams and pay over $1,400,’ said an Okanagan care aide

Kelowna fundraiser brings in almost $100,000 for diabetes research

2019 Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes fundraiser has been in Kelowna for 17 years

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Emerging artists given chance at Shuswap’s Roots Blues Festival

Chosen participants can perform two 40-minute sets on the Wednesday or Thursday night, and more.

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

Most Read