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Like the protagonist of her first novel, When Fenelon Falls, (Coach House, 2010), Dorothy Ellen Palmer was illicitly conceived during Hurricane Hazel and adopted at age three. She grew up in Alderwood, Toronto, and spent her childhood summers at a three-generation cottage on Balsam Lake near the very real Fenelon Falls.

For twenty-three years, she worked as a high school English/Drama teacher, teaching on a Mennonite Colony, a four room school, an Adult Learning Centre attached to a prison, and a highly diverse new high school in Pickering, where she created the only high school improv program in Canada and coached for The Canadian Improv Games. Elected to her union executive each year for fifteen years, she created staff and student workshops to fight bullying, racism, sexism, sexual harassment, homophobia, and ableism.

Her semi-autobiographical novel, When Fenelon Falls (Coach House Press, 2010), features a disabled teen adoptee in the Moonwalk-Woodstock summer of 1969. Begun during her full scholarship to the Banff Writers’ Colony and completed at the Humber School for Writers, it earned favorable reviews from Quill and Quire, Publishers Weekly, and was long-listed for the ReLit Award.

Written with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council, her second novel, Kerfuffle, also features a disabled protagonist. Set in another hot summer, it follows a diverse Toronto improv troupe making sense and nonsense of the 2010 G20 protests. Having recently graduated from a crutch to a walker, she is currently completing a memoir, So Lame: My Sixty Years in the Disabled Closet.