The Haunting Inspiration for Shallow End

The Haunting Inspiration for Shallow End

Posted on March 30 by Brenda Chapman in Mystery
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Every crime novel begins with a disquieting event, whether in the news or observed, that ferments in the author’s imagination, sometimes, for years before appearing on the pages. The germ of the idea for Shallow End, fourth in the Stonechild and Rouleau police procedural series, came from my earlier years working as a special education teacher.

During a teacher development day, a male supply teacher stood in front of the room and spoke about being accused of sexual misconduct by two female high school students. He was eventually cleared of the charges and the girls later confessed to making up the story simply because they felt he had slighted them in some way. This man, still traumatized by his experience, told us that the allegations ruined his career and nearly destroyed his family.

His story haunted me.

Lately, it seems that more and more often, the media are reporting on cases of female teachers or teachers’ aides who’ve been charged with having sexual relationships with students. In some cases, the women are married. Some have children. Most say that they never considered the impact of their actions on the victim or their families. In all cases, lives have been forever altered and healing has been difficult.

In Shallow End, grade eight teacher Jane Thompson refuses to admit her guilt in corrupting her student until a year into her three-year prison sentence. Upon release, she has lost everything: her husband, her children, her career, and her reputation. She doesn’t believe her life could get any worse — that is, until the boy’s body is found in Kingston on the shore of Lake Ontario a month later.

Shallow End is both a mystery and an exploration of evil — its impact on families and friends and the community — and the way evil can hide in plain sight while destroying the lives of those it touches.