Keery spent his teaching career in high school tech departments, including eight years at the former Orillia District Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
He continues to advocate for investment in programs that encourage students to pursue skilled trades and eliminate the stigma around them.
“We used to have, at one time, 14 shops between Park Street and OD,” Keery said. “They knocked down both schools, and do you know how many shops we have now? Three.”
Geared for high school students, his novel began as a gem of an idea more than a decade ago, while travelling to Espanola for a job teaching construction skills.
“The radio dies on you after a while, and you’ve got nothing but yourself and your imagination,” he said.
Later, as he sat down to flesh out the story, Keery would draw extensively on his time in teaching to give readers a sense of “what kids are, what they are like.
“A lot of people sell kids short,” he added. “In many cases, they are beautiful kids, they are smart and they are doing well. The system needs to support all of them, and maybe not just some of them.”
As enjoyable as the process was, writing a book is a formidable undertaking that can, at times, prove discouraging.
For Keery, it was his son, Rob, an adult with special needs and longtime volunteer with the OPP, who provided the inspiration to continue moving forward.
“He has been such an influence on my life,” he added. “I got [the book], I’d say, 80 per cent done, but I couldn’t leave it and not finish it.”
Bobby Kane is available at Manticore Books.