UPDATED: Gail Bowen coming to her "favourite festival” at Festival of Words

Lisa Goudy
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Regina's best-selling mystery novelist Gail Bowen will appear at the 2014 Saskatchewan Festival of Words taking place from July 17 to 20.

It’s been 14 adventures for Joanne Kilbourn, but she is showing no signs of slowing down.

As a widowed mother, university professor and political analyst, she always gets involved in criminal investigations in Saskatchewan.

Kilbourn’s creator is returning to the Saskatchewan Festival of Words this summer.

“It is, I think, my favourite festival. It really is. We go to lots and they’re all wonderful in a way, but I don’t know. There’s something especially good about the one in Moose Jaw,” said Gail Bowen, Regina’s best-selling mystery author most well known for her Kilbourn mysteries.

“Part of it is the setting. Part of it, I think, is there’s so many enthusiastic readers there and they always have a good line-up.”

Bowen appeared at the festival a few years ago. She said it was a wonderful experience. There is the chance for three appearances such as doing a reading or hosting a panel.

“You get a chance to stretch your literary muscles and change it up a bit for different audiences,” she said. “I’m going to read from a book that’s not published yet.”

The book, 12 Rose Street, is the 15th Kilbourn mystery novel. In it, her husband is running for mayor in Regina, but it is a dirty campaign. It also involves a betrayal. It will be published early in 2015.

“It’s always fun for me, too, to see what kind of response I get from the audience,” said Bowen. “I’ll be reading from something that nobody would’ve heard and that’s always kind of neat.”

Kilbourn first came to be after Bowen’s former partner decided he didn’t want to write anymore. At age 46, Bowen wrote the first Kilbourn book.

“I decided I would write the kind of book I like to read and I taught English at the university for 35 years and did graduate work in English, but mysteries were always sort of my summer pleasure,” said Bowen. “I knew what I wanted. I wanted to have a strong female protagonist and I wanted her to be middle-aged and I wanted her to live in Saskatchewan.”

The first Kilbourn book, Deadly Appearances, came out in 1990.

“I allowed Joanne to age and so I think that’s also given the books some longevity because she changes and her situation changes and her children grow up,” said Bowen. “I think readers have a sense that they are growing older and moving through life as Joanne does and people seem to like that.”

Bowen won the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award for A Colder Kind of Death (1994) and Reader's Digest named her Canada's Best Mystery Novelist in 2008. Her most recent book, The Gifted (2013) is the 14th Kilbourn novel.

She is currently working on the 16th Kilbourn book. She added she had “no idea” the series would’ve ever been this popular.

“Who would’ve guessed? I sure wouldn’t have,” said Bowen. “I realize even getting any book published is increasingly harder and really difficult. I am so lucky to have a series because there’s built-in audiences.”

The Saskatchewan Festival of Words will take place from July 17 to 20. Passes are $200. Flex passes for individual sessions are $100.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.


Organizations: Reader's Digest

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Regina, Moose Jaw 12 Rose Street Canada

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