CBC Literary Prizes

The Last Temptation of Walter by Karen Kemlo

Karen Kemlo has made the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for The Last Temptation of Walter.

2018 CBC Short Story Prize longlist

Karen Kemlo is a freelance journalist and author based in Toronto. (Luke Galati)

Karen Kemlo has made the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for The Last Temptation of Walter

About Karen

Karen Kemlo was born in Alberta and grew up in Ontario and British Columbia She received a BA from the University of Victoria and moved to Toronto where she graduated in journalism from Ryerson. She has worked for many years as a freelance journalist in print and in documentary television. 

Entry in five-ish words

Lost in the desert. 

The story's source of inspiration

"The inspiration behind the story was a long ago summer vacation with my father who was a minister and my mother, a teacher. We drove from Ontario to Utah and then into the Nevada desert. When we returned, my father made the drastic decision to leave the Church. I decided to write about the trip because I was haunted by the memory of the time we spent in the desert. It was as if we'd gone into space and crash landed on the moon. I was an adolescent and it deeply affected me. And once we returned, nothing was ever the same again. I wanted to convey that sense of alienation and loss."

First lines

I was 12 years old when my father decided to take our family to the Nevada desert from our home in Ontario. He said it was a vacation, but we left so quickly I didn't have time to pack. I had just the clothes I was wearing — a red T-shirt, blue shorts and white sneakers, along with the stuffed yellow rabbit I always slept with.

When I wondered if we were going to Disneyland, he said we were going some place even better.

"You're going to see amazing things Tilda, all kinds of good and evil up close." When I asked him why, he said it would teach me "to spurn all temptation and live a pure life."

After he said that I was scared. He'd been acting strange for a long time, but this kind of talk unnerved me.

About the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize

The winner of the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, will have their story published on CBC Books and will have the opportunity to attend a 10-day writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their story published on CBC Books


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