Saskatchewan author Gail Bowen releases new book at age 72




I am an inveterate reader and I love mysteries so if I find an author I like with a huge back list, I feel like I’ve won the lottery. That’s what happened this fall when I discovered Regina Saskatchewan author Gail Bowen who at age 72 is releasing her 20th book in the Joanne Kilbourn series.

Bowen was an associate professor of English at First Nations University of Saskatchewan raising three small children when she reluctantly responded a friend’s request to write for “An Easterner’s Guide to Western Canada/A Westerner’s Guide to Eastern Canada.”

“After that project I was asked by the publisher if I would be interested in writing a mystery. So my writing career started when I was around 45,” Bowen says.

Her protagonist is a widowed mother, political analyst and university professor who gets involved in frequent criminal investigations. While she says Joanne is not her alter ego, she thinks of her as a very Canadian protagonist.

“Joanne is really someone who, when she sees injustice or inequity, rolls up her sleeves and tries to do what she can to right what she perceives as wrong. I see that as a very Canadian attitude,” she says.

Bowen was determined from the start that the hero in her books would be a middle-aged woman and grow older in the book. Because Joanne has aged, she says it has been relatively easy to keep her stories fresh and come up with new and evolving plot lines.

“Her children grow and bring new people into their lives and Joanne herself has changed over the years,” Bowen says. “She also becomes more aware that nothing is forever, so she really cherishes the moments she has while plowing through times that are not so good.”

Each book takes about two years to write, and she finds time for the creative process by “writing in the cracks.” “I really am very disciplined. If I have five minutes, I’ll write for five minutes. It’s the only way I can get anything done,” she says.

And although she has retired from her university position, Bowen is hard at work on several new books and has no plans to retire Joanne Kilbourn in the forseeable future.

“I’m having fun. That’s why I keep writing at age 72. So I think as long as I’m excited about what I’m doing, I will continue to do it. But the one thing I’ve promised myself from the beginning is that I don’t want to write a series that goes on too long where the margins get bigger and the plots get thinner.”

In addition to writing the award-winning Joanne Kilbourn series, Bowen has had several plays produced, and she wrote a radio play, “The World According to Charlie D,” based on a character in her books. Many of the Joanne Kilbourn stories have also adapted as television movies by Shaftesbury Films, the company that currently produces the Murdoch Mysteries.


Gail Bowen’s newest book 12 Rose Street will be released March 3, 2015. Back copies are also available for purchase and from public libraries across the country.

This is an excerpt from the podcast interview and edited transcript that will be posted on in early March 2015.



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