Getting books to readers

Accomplished author Gail Bowen will be in Salmon Arm this weekend to present Ten Steps to Getting Your Manuscript out of the Bottom Drawer…

Prolific author: Gail Bowen is a presenter at the Word on the Lake Writers Festival

Prolific author: Gail Bowen is a presenter at the Word on the Lake Writers Festival

Accomplished author Gail Bowen will be in Salmon Arm this weekend to present Ten Steps to Getting Your Manuscript out of the Bottom Drawer and Onto Your Publisher’s Desk at the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival.

“I have one of those sun-kissed careers; I never made the decision, I was asked to write,” she laughs, pointing out she was 43-years-old and teaching at university when a family friend Ron Markham asked her to write a portion of An Easterner’s Guide to Western Canada.

Bowen, who was already leading an extremely busy life with her career, three children and an involvement in politics, declined.

But her husband  suggested it was important to respond favourably to a friend’s request – which she did.

“That very moment changed everything in my life,” she laughs.

The publisher liked it and asked Bowen and Markham to work together on another project, which they also did.

The result was Dancing in Poppies, which became a very successful play.

“At 46, it never occurred to me if I wrote something it wouldn’t be published,” laughs Bowen, who says luck remained on her side when she produced the first of her Joanne Kilbourn mysteries – Deadly Appearances.

The first three books in the series were published by Vancouver’s Douglas & McIntyre. When they closed their doors, Bowen moved to McClelland & Stewart where she has remained.

Now 25 years into the series, Bowen acknowledges her good fortune.

“I am well-aware of the fact the publishing industry is very tough,” she says. “I have a series, that’s what saves me.”

Like her creator, Kilbourn is a smart, savvy university professor and political analyst.

“Her essential take is mine, and her commitment to family is mine,  but she’s not me,” Bowen says, pointing out six of her books have been made into movies.

Bowen also writes for reluctant readers, something the former professor at First Nations University of Canada says has always been her dream.

“We lost the male students and I wanted to write something young men would like,” she says of the four books in the Charlie D series that sell well and are popular in prisons – which she likes. “If they’re reading they’re not doing something else.”

Bowen was bitten by the political bug at an early age and remains a self-confessed political junkie of both American and Canadian politics.

Unhappy with the state of Canadian affairs, she says federal cuts have made  Canada less than it was.

“It is a much leaner, meaner country and I think people have had enough,” she says. “The population is changing and becoming more engaged, more concerned, more compassionate. And  a government that is none of those things is a real recipe for disaster.”

Born in Toronto, Bowen was educated at the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo and the University of Saskatchewan.

For more information on Bowen, her workshop and other details on the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival hosted by the Shuswap Association of Writers, visit wordonthelakewritersfestival.com.