North Okanagan author completes first novel during COVID-19 pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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North Okanagan author completes first novel during COVID-19 pandemic

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Kristin Froneman
June 18, 2020 - 12:00 PM

It took him 18 years, but a global pandemic finally gave a North Okanagan author the time and motivation he needed to finish his first novel.

M.F. McDowell’s Open City, Closed Set is a Hollywood thriller set during the Second World War and was published when the writer found himself with some free time due to COVID-19.

“I’d written this as a thesis for a master’s of creative writing at UBC and it was just sitting around,” he said, adding that he now had the time to spruce it up. “If it wasn’t for this lockdown, I’m not sure I would have had the wherewithal or the idea to put it out there.”

The novel follows Roberto Balio, an Italian spy sent to the California coast to investigate his predecessor’s disappearance.

The Lavington resident got the idea for what was originally a screenplay 18 years earlier when he was on a trip in Santa Monica. He saw a spooky staircase off of a cliff in the wilderness that lead to a secret Nazi-sympathizer bunker used to send secret messages to Germany during the Second World War.

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“I wanted to make something more comic than Nazis, because that sounds pretty dark so I thought that an Italian spy (would work),” he said,

McDowell always had a particular attachment to Hollywood, having been a screenwriter for 20 years, and from California originally, and said it was fun to write.

“One of the more difficult things about this particular process was turning it into an audiobook... to read the book out loud is one thing, but to listen to it back and get rid of your ‘ums’ and your clicks was a totally different thing. So that was quite a challenging thing, turning into an audiobook,” McDowell said.

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He hopes to continue the series If the book generates enough interest.

When not introducing films for Okanagan Screen Arts at the Vernon Towne Theatre, McDowell instructs guitar, yoga and film classes, acts in local musical theatre productions and produces videos for local businesses and organizations.

The novel was published May 3 and is available on here, Kindle and Audible here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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