Gail Bowen visits southern Ontario

gbowenAttention Gail Bowen fans! The award-winning Canadian mystery writer will be reading from 12 Rose Street, her 15th Joanne Kilbourn mystery, just outside of Toronto next week.

  • Monday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m. Northview Branch, Oshawa Public Library, 250 Beatrice St. East, Oshawa.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2:30 p.m., Garden Hill Branch, Port Hope Public Library, 3609 Ganaraska Road in the village of Garden Hill.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m., Mary J. Benson Branch, Port Hope Public Library, 31 Queen Street, Port Hope.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 29, 7: 30 p.m., East Gwillimbury Civic Centre, 19,000 Leslie St., Sharon, Ont. (presented by the East Gwillimbury Public Library.)
  • At Monora Park Pavilion (presented by BookLore), 500 Monora Park Pavilion Road, Mono, Ont., north of Orangeville., 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m. Reading with Catherine Gildner and Ian Hamilton.

I plan to be at one of these events—which one, I haven’t yet decided—because Gail has had a big impact on my writing career.

Early in 2009, I entered an early draft of Safe Harbor, my first Pat Tierney mystery, in Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger competition. The contest is open to English-language writers around the world who haven’t had a novel published. The CWA didn’t get back to me, which meant, in a competition that attracts hundreds of entries, that the manuscript hadn’t made its shortlist.

A few months later, Gail was in Toronto doing a stint as writer-in-residence at the Toronto Reference Library. I submitted the first 20 pages of Safe Harbor for a manuscript evaluation and met with Gail a few weeks later. “This book needs to written in the first person,” she said. “We need to know what your protagonist Pat Tierney is thinking and feeling every step of the way.”

I felt like a light had been switched on in my head. Safe Harbor is a murder mystery, but it’s also the story of Pat’s personal journey. I rewrote the book in the first person. And right from the start, I knew I’d made the right decision.

I entered the rewrite in the 2010 Debut Dagger competition. Same title and same storyline as my previous submission, but this time told in the first person. That year Safe Harbor emerged as one of 11 novels—out of about 1,100 submissions—that were shortlisted for the award. Being on that shortlist has been one of the highlights of my writing life.


Gail Bowen’s first Joanne Kilbourn mystery, Deadly Appearances (1990), was nominated for the Smithbooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award. A Colder Kind of Death (1995) won the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel. In 2008, Reader’s Digest named Gail Canada’s Best Mystery Novelist, and the following year she received the Derrick Murdoch Award from Crime Writers of Canada.

12 Rose Street will be released in March 2015.

Now retired from teaching at First Nations University, she lives in Regina, Sask.

About rosemarymccracken

Rosemary McCracken is a Toronto-based fiction writer.
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