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)

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Public input on the City of Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget is open until 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, 2021. (City of Enderby photo)
Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget open for public input

The proposed spending plan includes a 2.2 per cent tax increase; public input open until Monday

Coldstream students took over the Your Letters page in the April 9, 2021, edition of the Vernon Morning Star to offer advice to adults about COVID-19. Interior Health took notice and offered their praise. (Vernon Morning Star)
Coldstream students’ COVID advice praised by Interior Health

Grade 2 and 3 classes from Coldstream Elementary took over the Morning Star’s Letters page April 9

Members of the Okanagan Screen Arts Society received a cheque for $1,500 Thursday, April 15, 2021. The funds are to help the society’s efforts as they prepare take over operation of the Vernon Towne Cinema at the end of July. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon dealership gives Towne Cinema a lift

Vernon Watkin Motor Ford, in business for more than 100 years, donated to the theatre with nearly as long a history

Interior Health’s overdose prevention site in Vernon is saving lives. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon’s controversial overdose prevention site saving lives

Site sees fewer problems than expected, but some still want it moved

Vernon Jubilee Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Vernon Jubilee Hospital

The outbreak affected four staff, 10 patients and led to three deaths in just over two weeks

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Old English design elements can be seen in the sign of the Summerland Farm and Garden Centre in 1993. The guidelines are no longer in place, but some downtown businesses still show aspects of the days when Summerland had a theme in place. This photo was taken by Summerland photographer Dan Dorotich. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Old English theme has been abandoned

From the 1980s until the early 2000s, Summerland had design guidelines in its downtown

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Most Read