Bio

IAnna Dowdall’m Montréalaise by birth, identity and current address, although I’ve called other parts of Canada and the United States my home: Ontario, Nova Scotia, the Yukon and, yes, New Jersey.

I’ve always loved to write. I have a clear memory, during an unremarkable working class upbringing in the proverbial gritty milltown, of writing derivative melodramas on waste paper brought home from the papermill.

I grew up, and life seized me. I was a nurse’s aide and a graphic artist for a while, then a journalist with United Press International. I translated shirtless laird romances, and was in and out of school like a repeat offender. I ended up studying for a doctoral degree at Princeton, where I specialized in long bicycle rides and watching Oprah, but did enjoy writing academic satires involving my profs in the style of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast.

I returned to Canada to face the music. I taught in the English Department at Dalhousie University for a bit, then lit out for the Yukon territory. In the frozen North I did a little of it all–dogsledding, piloting a small plane, cross-country skiing, the Kluane international bike relay. Little did I know I was so sporty. I’ve had a few jobs in government along the way. When I worked in Toronto, one fine day at the office my boss said, you’ve led such an interesting life, Anna. I figured I wasn’t long for government after that.

During this time I began to write again. I have two unpublished young adult fantasy books.  Book one was a semi-finalist for the American Katherine Paterson Prize, and book two, in a mystery vein, made the long list for the Crime Writers of Canada’s unpublished novel prize. After being told my words were too “big,” I shifted to adult fiction.

AFTER THE WINTER is my first published novel. Its sequel, THE AU PAIR, was released in October 2017. Book 3, APRIL ON PARIS STREET, will be out with Guernica Editions in October 2021. All three are set in Québec, although in book 3 private investigator Ashley Smeeton heads for Paris on a case.

My books are stories about women in danger, and what they do about it. I hope readers will recognize and love the classic suspense elements. Then I bend things in the ending. But the evocative landscapes, the secrets, the slightly sinister houses on a hill, they’re all there. And of course the intrepid protagonist herself. In AFTER THE WINTER, Sally Ryder’s irresistible curiosity is the small bright flame that drives the plot. You’ll also meet PI Ashley Arabella Smeeton as a pigtailed nine-year-old with an addiction to Nancy Drew. Grown up in THE AU PAIR, Ashley is a down-to-earth and unsentimental PI and, despite her emotional aloofness, a strange propensity for entanglement in domestic suspense cases. APRIL ON PARIS STREET is a partial departure from these books, a hybrid literary mystery with some genre and narrative twists.  It’s set in Montreal and Paris and mixes a serious murder plot with black humour.