Trigger warning: this article contains mentions of death and rape.
On Oct. 6, Emily Pohl-Weary hosted the book launch for her new young-adult novel, How to Be Found, at Another Story Bookshop.
Pohl-Weary currently teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia, and is the author of eight books, as well as a play based on Baba Yaga. She also graduated from York with a BA in translation. “It was the 90s and life was different — no cell phones, bad fashion choices, giant desktop computers, good music,” she notes.
“My favourite memories include downloading wire stories on activist issues from difficult to use online bulletin boards and using the computer lab to design and print my zines (they didn’t charge for copies back then), which had titles like We Have Lives! and Title Here, Name Here. It was a heady time,” adds Pohl-Weary.
In Parkdale, where she grew up, Pohl-Weary has been facilitating writing workshops for youth for over a decade. “I absolutely love the energy of teen writers and they inspire me to write young adult fiction. They inspire me constantly to be brave and engage with the world, when my tendency is to hide behind my computer and write.”
She expresses that challenges were often related to barriers faced outside of the workshop, and that growing up in Toronto doesn’t come without obstacles, especially for racialized and/or impoverished kids.
“It’s hard enough to survive the teen years, but when I was growing up, Paul Bernardo was raping and killing girls around Toronto, and Alison Parrott was kidnapped not far from where I lived and [was] later found dead. There were other young girls killed, too. It felt like an especially confusing and scary time to be a girl. That didn’t stop me from doing the usual things teens do, but it added a backdrop of tension,” explains Pohl-Weary.
Her new book, How to Be Found, follows the lives of two metropolitan teens who grew up like sisters. The story reveals secrets and shady characters when one of the friends goes missing, all while exploring the importance of our chosen families.
“While we were told “girls can do anything,” we were also terrified to walk alone at night. And having worked with teens for many years, I know that girls and trans people are just as vulnerable these days, so I tried to imagine girls like me and my friends living in 2023,” adds Pohl-Weary, relating her personal experiences to her new book.
To learn more about Pohl-Weary and How to Be Found, click here.