When Your Hometown Newspaper Recognizes You

New novel a unique pleasure for former Cornwallite Anna Dowdall

By Todd Hambleton, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

An author who grew up in Cornwall has had her first novel published.

Anna Dowdall, who was born in Montreal and currently lives in Toronto, has written After the Winter, a crime novel set in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

“I have many fond memories (of Cornwall), and I still have friends there,” said Dowdall, who lived in the Seaway City from the ages of one to 15.

Dowdall, who attended Ecole Saint Jean Bosco on Eighth Street, has been a reporter, a college lecturer and a horticultural advisor, as well as other things “too numerous to mention (and/or) best forgotten,” she said.

Dowdall was a semi-finalist for the U.S. Katherine Paterson YA prize, and for Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award in the unpublished category.

What’s it like to have a first book released?

“It fills your head with all kinds of unfamiliar thoughts and feelings, and at the same time it’s very pragmatic,” Dowdall said. “You have to work hard to get your name out there, and get some decent reviews.”

Dowdall has known for decades that she wanted to write books.

“(It goes back to) when I was a little kid growing up on Andre Avenue – and learning about the world through the Standard-Freeholder, I might add,” she said. “For all kinds of reasons this has taken a while. . . this somehow adds a unique pleasure to the whole thing.”

Known to read plenty of obscure fiction in English and French, Dowdall thinks Quebec is an under-recognized mise en scene for mystery and domestic suspense.

After the Winter has a wealthy young Montrealer, Sally Ryder, rudderless after a series of setbacks, discovering her dead mother had a secret life, and that she has a half-sister. Helena Lane has written to Sally, inviting her to Midwinter, an isolated estate in the Eastern Townships, but before they can meet, Helena and her husband die under disturbing circumstances.

Sally feels compelled to visit, though, to learn about the sister she never knew. But her first discovery is a shock: Howard Lane has left everything, including Midwinter, to his beautiful secretary Janine.

Unexpectedly snowed in with an assortment of Midwinter guests and locals, it isn’t long before Sally becomes entangled with a gruff young doctor from Boston in an effort to uncover the truth about her sister’s mysterious death — and life.

Meanwhile, the bodies pile up.

The novel has already received some critical acclaim, including from Joan Barfoot, an award-winning author who wrote in the London Free Press that After the Winter “has a nicely complicated, sinister plot, a gothic setting, romantic entanglements and some ambiguous characters.”

The best review has come from Dowdall’s daughter, Daisy.

“I suspect she may have been a tiny bit skeptical, (but) when she finished my book, she texted me: ‘Brava brava!! I can’t wait to read the next one now! You have yourself a loyal reader in me,’” Dowdall recounted.

“It’s not easy being a single parent, as every single parent knows, but when you can show your kid something you’ve done like that and they respond, it’s the best of feelings.”

After the Winter has been published by The Wild Rose Press, in New York.

For more information on author and the book, visit www.annadowdall.com.



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