The Gifted by Gail Bowen
- Reviewed by Angie Abdou for The Fernie Fix’s April 2014 Issue
The first season of Booked!, the new Fernie Heritage Library author series, has been a tremendous success. Fernie packed the library for Terry Fallis, Grant Lawrence, and Timothy Taylor. All three authors were entertaining, inspiring, and thought-provoking. Audiences buzzed with energy, discussing the authors’ books and ideas for weeks afterwards. Now comes the grand finale of the 2013-2014 season: award-winning, internationally-acclaimed mystery writer Gail Bowen will be at the Fernie Heritage Library May 2 (doors open at 7, event begins at 8).
Gail Bowen is the first writer I ever met in real life. It was 1990, and I was taking a feminist theory course at the University of Regina; Gail had just published her first Joanne Kilbourn mystery. She spoke to our class about creating her (now famous) female protagonist and about setting the story in Regina. I remember being amazed that someone could write a novel about a place as ordinary as Regina, Saskatchewan – a place I knew so well and, more importantly, a place that seemed, to me, not at all exotic or interesting. I also remember being equally amazed that Gail Bowen was so normal, accessible, and kind (there was no golden aura radiating off of her, she didn’t levitate). It was during Gail’s one-hour speech that I first thought that maybe plain old me from plain old Moose Jaw could also give this writing thing a shot. For that I will be forever grateful to her. I will also be forever grateful for the Joanne Kilbourn mystery series which kept me company on many stormy prairie nights and which I have since carted around the country to homes in three different provinces.
Back in 1990, in front of that class of undergraduate students, Gail seemed downright giddy at her initial success. She enthusiastically shared stories of the thrill of first seeing her name on a novel’s cover in a bookstore. She told us that her husband went to all the Regina stores and prominently displayed her book with its cover facing out. She laughed and blushed as she remembered him announcing her presence to the manager of one store: “Gail Bowen! The famous author!”
As it turns out, Gail Bowen has indeed gone on to become a famous author. Since that time, she has published fourteen books in the Joanne Kilbourn series. She has won the Crime Writers of Canada Author Ellis Award. Her books have appeared as made-for-television movies with worldwide distribution. In 2008, Reader’s Digest named Gail Bowen “Canada’s Best Mystery Novelist.” The Hamilton Spectator calls her novels “compulsively readable” and The Ottawa Citizen says “Bowen is a national treasure.”
On May 2, we will have that national treasure right here in Fernie, a perfect end to a perfect season. Join us at Fernie Heritage Library for an opportunity to meet Gail Bowen and hear her discuss her work and share with us the secret of keeping a single series going – and thriving! – for twenty-three years. As an added bonus, we will also announce the (very exciting) 2014-2015 Booked line-up.
Angie Abdou is a local fiction writer. Her fourth book will be available this summer. For more information on Angie’s books and upcoming speaking engagements, see this website.