One day when Michelle was in Grade 8, her English teacher asked her to stay behind after class. Michelle sat at her desk with her heart pounding in her ears – she was terrified he’d found the smutty note she and her friends had been passing during class. Her teacher closed the door behind the other students, walked back to front of the classroom, and picked some loose-leaf off his desk. His voice (and Michelle’s words) echoed in the empty classroom as he read aloud from an assignment she’d written. He set the paper down, folded his arms, and said, “If you become anything but a writer, it will be a waste.”
Those words have hung over her like a curse since 1985.
Since then, Michelle’s earned a degree in journalism from King’s and a Master of Social Work from Dal. She’s worked across Canada as a freelance journalist, and her writing has appeared in The Coast, Mothering magazine, New Maritimes, and various small-town newspapers. She’s also written and recorded documentaries and audio essays for CBC radio. Sometimes, she’s supported herself by writing prosaic but useful reports for governments and community organizations. Her book Enriched by Catastrophe: Social Work and Social Conflict After the Halifax Explosion was published by Fernwood in 2007. She was a presenting author at Word on the Street in 2009. She really wanted to phone her old English teacher to let him know.
Michelle lives with PTSD. This has slowed her writing progress over the years, but it’s also given her a unique perspective and resilience. She’s recently completed a novel about generational trauma, superstition, and what happens when everything we believe in fails us.
Michelle lives in Halifax with her two teenagers, four cats, and a dog.