Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Writing-Is Norton Edwards an anti-hero? April 19, 2018

On a radio interview this week, I was asked about crafting anti-heroes, with the sub-text that Norton Edwards, the eponymous character of Murdering Mr. Edwards, is one.  I responded in a vague, general way, but I’ve been pondering more about this, so here is the extended answer to the question!  (It’s so much better when an interviewer tells you questions in advance, and you can put such thought into a response before it’s broadcast to the masses!)  :-S

So, here are my “Thoughts on crafting the anti-hero.”

I don’t think of Mr. Edwards as the protagonist of the tales, so he is not an anti-hero by the normal definition of the term: a protagonist lacking heroic qualities of nobility, morality, and courage (etc). I think of the staff as the protagonists of their individual tales, with Edwards as the antagonist in each.

Of course, Edwards is the protagonist of his own life, but he would certainly not think of himself as an anti-hero either.  He sees himself as the romantic lead.  He believes he is dashing, fascinating, handsome and absolutely heroic in his pursuit of intelligent discourse against the apathy and ignorance of society.  He imagines he is a great leader, inspiring the youth to connect to the great glories of literature.  He sees in himself all the heroic qualities.

He’s right, too.

He is all those things.  But just because he is charming and romantic when it suits him, does not mean that he is not also obnoxious, oblivious, and cruel.  He behaves abominably to the women he entrances each school year. He has unsavory habits.  In other words, Edwards, like most people, has negative qualities that he ignores or minimizes in the greater glory of his identity as hero of his own story.

As an anti-hero (if you must call him that) of the entire book, he is boring, pompous, and self-centred.  No one is cheering for Edwards in these stories.  We recognize him in the most irritating people we’ve ever worked with.  He’s a pathetic creature to the outside world, but he is content in his own class room demesne, well satisfied with his role as benign dictator (or minor nobility, if you prefer) over the students in his purview.  He is deluded about his nobility of purpose and his principles, but he is content.

In Murdering Mr. Edwards, this disconnect becomes the central conflict Edwards has between himself and each of the other members of the Canterbury High staff.  He is oblivious to how he is perceived by others, and if he were aware, he would discount their perception as foolishly, ignorantly, incorrect.

I was asked how one crafts an anti-hero.  My answer after consideration remains the same as I gave in the interview.  You craft an anti-hero as you craft everything else in a book.  You write the story in your head and then you edit to ensure what you see in your head matches what’s on the page.  In a larger work, If you craft your characters well, they are complex creatures whose positive and negative qualities cause conflict within the reader.  Even as they dislike the antagonist, they may find themselves feeling sorry for them, recognizing their fallible humanity.  We see some redeeming qualities.

After all, in the real world, we don’t actually murder those annoying co-workers, do we?


picket knit #Outlander infinity scarves! September 16, 2014

DSCN1259I have been knitting on the picket line, and have listed five scarves for sale on eBay.  They’re various lengths, widths, and colours, all based on the scarf Claire wears outdoors in episode 103 “The Gathering” of the Outlander TV series.  They each start at an auction price of $29.99, or a Buy-It-Now at $40.

As an added bonus, you can see me modelling the scarves in my belly dancing wig! 🙂  You know you want to see what I look like without white, fuchsia and blue hair, right? <g>

Here is the link to the scarves on my eBay seller’s page

So that ^ link has expired, but I still have some scarves for sale, so if you’re interested in one, drop me a line via either the ABOUT or CONTACT pages and I’ll get back to you.  Eventually I’ll try to upload photos to this page.

For you crafty types who end up on this page because you want to make one, most of mine were knit in garter stitch over 15-25 stitches (depending on whether you want a cowl that doesn’t wrap, or a scarf that does) using 25 mm needles.  To get Claire’s look above pick a chunky yarn of your choice, plus a coordinating worsted weight, use both together to cast on 15-18 (as you like), knit away until you run out of yarn (a meter to 1.5 meters), then whipstitch the ends together.  You can add a twist if you like for a mobius strip, which does lie nicely on the shoulders, I must say.

Very easy! The costuming department was in a real hurry when they commissioned all these scarves, and I’m not sure I’ve seen one on the show that couldn’t have been knit in a day. I chose fancy chunky yarns- nice German boucles or variegated types to go with a solid worsted.  You might prefer all solids like Claire has on.


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