Gail Lee CowdinThe Suitcase
I have always believed that one’s life events shape the person they become. Each person has a suitcase filled with life’s experiences, memories, successes, and failures that each in some way contribute to his or her personality. When creating my characters, I think about the suitcase the characters have that make them behave the way they do. My personal suitcase contributes to my writing. Namely, in this case, my history as a native Minnesotan and my love of reading adventure and mystery novels all make for a very packed bag.

Being born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has never been my claim to fame. The rivalry between Minnesota and Iowa has always meant that I don’t publicize my birth location. (That’s not meant as an insult to Iowans. It’s just a fact of Minnesota life. I think any Iowan would say the same about Minnesotans.) However, the world events of my early life meant that I would call another state home before settling in Minnesota.

World War II brought my parents to California shortly after I was born in Iowa. My father was a native Minnesotan, but trained in the Army Air Corps in Cedar Rapids, Then the Army decided he needed to move. So I left Iowa as a newborn baby when our small family moved to California so Dad could serve in the Army Air Corps there. We stayed in California until after the War and then returned to Minnesota to be with my father’s family in a rural community in Southern Minnesota. Janesville was my home from the time I was four until I graduated from high school. My brother Ralph Peterson came along when I was ten years old. (He’s the webmaster for my author page.) We share varied, but happy, memories of our hometown.

Janesville MN, David Osborne photo

Janesville MN circa 1960’s,
David Osborne photo


Small Town Life
Janesville was the stereotypical small town of the 50’s and 60’s. Everyone knew the children of everyone else (and what they were doing). My protective grandfather walked a block behind me on my first day of school, and several local business owners reported that I’d made it safely. Winters were spent at the local skating rink, cross-country skiing, and sledding at the Lake Elysian park just outside of town, or meeting friends at the local youth center.

The small town life provided a backdrop for my love for Minnesota. Because I graduated with a class of 32 students, I was able to take part in almost all of the school extra-curricular activities. I headed up my school newspaper with a friend, wrote articles and columns, and also helped publish the school yearbook. I have memories of taking part in student council activities, Friday night sports events, Friday night dances at the high school, and stops at the soda shop in the local drugstore after school, and of course hanging out at the hamburger joint after Friday night high school games.

I began my first job in high school as a waitress at the town bakery. This was the meeting place for morning coffee and lunch for many of the local businessmen and farmers.

My small town roots also shaped much of my future life. My husband grew up just a couple blocks away. We were high school buddies. Obviously, we decided to become better friends. We were married just after I completed my bachelor’s degree at Mankato State University.

City Life and Up North
After college, we moved to the Twin Cities where I taught English to middle level students and English as a Second Language to a bounty of students from all over the world including students in kindergarten to high school who were new arrivals from South East Asia as refugees from the Vietnam War.

We have two children, Michelle and Matthew. We raised them in a northern suburb. Our home was on a small, secluded lake. We made many happy memories there with the kids and our golden retrievers Tigger and Pooh. After spending a couple memorable vacations at a resort on the Gunflint Trail, we decided that we needed more of the up north life, so we bought a cabin in the Brainerd Lakes resort area in North Central Minnesota. Ten years on the lake ‘up north’ cemented our love for Minnesota: lakes, loons, trees, fishing, and even those darn mosquitoes!

Graduate Work
I decided to complete my Master’s Degree at Hamline University in St. Paul before the kids went off to college. My adviser for my thesis was a wonderful man named Quay Grigg. He taught me how to map out the details in my writing. It was a logical choice to use his name as a character in my first novel. Throughout the years, I have shared my love of writing with my students and encouraged them to publish their work. Quay encouraged me to put my words and thoughts in print and publish them.

So after writing two novels and a number of short articles and stories, I decided I needed to get moving. I wanted to leave some sort of footprint behind, even if it was just my story. I never thought “Deception and Redemption” would be as well received as it has been. I know now that the best part of writing is in knowing that someone else has enjoyed reading your work.

The First BookDeception and Redemption book cover
“Deception and Redemption” was crafted based on my love of mystery and adventure novels and my love of my native home, Minnesota. I am always looking for possible plot ideas. When the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an article about PETA protests at a local research lab and violence erupting around the protest, I knew I had my story. Bringing my background ‘baggage’ of my Minnesota experiences made the story-telling easy.

We enjoy our time with family in Minnesota. But when we retired we moved to the Ozarks of Arkansas to enjoy the Natural State. We still have three grandchildren ‘up north’ with our daughter, and three in Missouri with our son. Our son Matthew is in law enforcement, and my brother-in-law Dean is a retired police officer. I turn to them when I want advice on making my stories as true to life as possible. That’s not to say I don’t fictionalize a bit, too. Our daughter Michelle in Minnesota has followed my footsteps into education. Both our children make us so proud and we love being able to spend time with them.

I continue to find writing both relaxing and stimulating. I am presently at work on the sequel to “Deception and Redemption”. You’ll find out what happens in the next book… Another Deception novel that will also introduce a golden retriever (what else?) named Chip.

Look for my book on the following Websites: (Kindle) (Paperback)