#YEG: Edmo: Literary Photo-Bomber

A certain city keeps working itself into this author's works.

December 1, 2017

illustration by Robert Carter

A transplanted Easterner, I intended to move to Edmonton for three years. That was 24 years ago, yet somehow here I remain — with no intention of leaving. I am definitely under Edmonton’s loving spell: for the outstanding education my daughters received; for the career opportunities my family enjoys; and for Edmonton’s natural beauty. When I eventually reinvented myself from junior-high teacher into a young-adult author, Edmonton’s arts community sprang to my support. By that time, my love affair with Edmonton was in full bloom.

In looking back, I wish my love life had always been this straightforward. The stab of unrequited love from my earlier years makes me extra grateful that my love of Edmonton — or of “Edmo,” as I affectionately say — is mutual. Or at least, I am mostly grateful, because Edmo’s love for me sometimes shines through in unexpected ways. For example, Edmonton somehow pushed itself into my first two books, becoming the default setting where the stories take place. In my third, newly released young-adult novel, Edmo again morphed into the exuberant kid who couldn’t resist photo-bombing its way into my well-planned picture… or rather, into my book.

With our romance possibly bordering on obsession, it seemed time for a heart-to-heart chat with Edmo about this behaviour and about our relationship in general. Here is how the conversation unfolded:

Me: So Edmo, the inspiration for my first book came from an incident that happened in Toronto. Yet I had barely started writing the first draft when you were all, like, Whyte Avenue! Then Butterdome-this and Kinsmen Sports Centre-that.

EDMO: (Laughs) And don’t forget Hub Mall and the Strathcona
Farmers’ Market, and…

Me: …Parkallen, and the university campus.

EDMO: That’s the spirit! How about the river valley — and Hawrelak Park for “Pets In The Park?” God, I love that event! Ditto for Queen Alexandra neighbourhood in your second book, and —

Me: See, Edmo? That’s exactly what I mean! And what was with you insisting that a key scene from my third book happen at the Stanley Milner Library — and in Churchill Square? Honestly, you are shameless. Can you curb your enthusiasm even a little? You’re freaking me out.

EDMO: Have I told you lately that I love you?

Me: (Sighs) Believe me, I already know.

EDMO: Is it possible you’re overreacting? You know, with you being the high-strung, artistic type?

Me: (Puts on my most stern face)

EDMO: Okay, sorry. So just answer me this: Is it a problem that I like to flaunt my fascinating sides in your books — or as you say, to photo-bomb your books? Am I ruining them?

Me: Well, no.

EDMO: Am I possibly making your books even a titch better?

Me: Umm…maybe. (Hesitates) I kind of enjoy showcasing your finer attributes, Edmo. You’re actually pretty cute. And kind of hot.

EDMO: (Gives a smug nod) So what are you writing now? Anything I need to know about?

Me: We can talk about that later, shall we?

EDMO: It’s a date.

Karen Spafford-Fitz is the author of three teen novels: Saving Grad, Vanish and Dog Walker—all of which are set in Edmonton. Her next novel, Not On My Street, will be released in fall 2018. Karen is not surprised that Edmo has photo-bombed her fourth book too.

This article appears in the December 2017 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.


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