“I never would have read that book if I wasn’t involved in this,” said Geoff Bowes of his experience with Grey County Reads and Steal Away Home by Karolyn Smardz-Frost. “It was an extraordinary book,” he said, happy to have had the chance to add this one to his library.
It’s a familiar comment from Grey County Reads panelists who often discover high quality Canadian-authored works such as this one for the very first time. There is a wealth of homegrown talent just waiting for you to discover. Smardz-Frost is one such revelation.
Although according to Bowes, Karolyn Smardz-Frost’s descriptions can venture into the excessive, Steal Away Home is a fascinating study of life in slave times. For Geoff, it was an true awakening.
Enamoured with writing and fresh off his foray into the literary realm with Open Up the Wall, the inside story of the reno biz that you won’t see on any HGTV home renovation show, Geoff has been heavily involved with the translation of his work into audio format. “It’s been flying off the e-shelves,” he said, tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
Often hilarious and occasionally heartbreaking, his book chronicles jobs and jobsites, unforgettable characters and mind boggling situations. When asked if there might be another book in the offing, Bowes looks slyly optimistic.
A witness to a few unattractive publishing deals, he has witnessed the undervalued world that authors are sometimes forced to inhabit. It’s a situation that he claims actors have had to overcome for themselves. He cites one-sided publishing deals, an unattractive life on the road to promote your book and inadequate compensation as some of the many foibles that befall inexperienced authors. Sounds like fodder for another exposé!
Geoff continues to consult on a few construction jobs but for the most part, he is retired.
A graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, Geoff Bowes worked as an actor on stages across the country including the Stratford Festival, Theatre Calgary, The Shaw Festival, CanStage and a host of Toronto theatres. His TV and film work has taken him from LA to Thunder Bay, working with Bruce Dern, Ann Margaret, Paul Gross, James Woods, and Sarah Polley, to name his favourites.
Abruptly changing careers when his children were little, Mr. Bowes opened his own construction company, and spent seventeen years beautifying southern Ontario one house at a time.
He recently published the hilarious and insightful book Open up the Wall - Revelations of a Renovation Contractor chronicling his transition from actor to tradesmen, and celebrating the astonishing collection of crazy characters that he encountered on both sides of the toolbelt.
Mr. Bowes lives outside Markdale with his beloved wife, his devoted dog, and a herd of indifferent cows.
A Senior Research Fellow at the Harriet Tubman Institute at York University, Karolyn Smardz-Frost is a Canadian historian, archaeologist and professor of history. She won the Governor General's Award for English-language non-fiction in 2007 for I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad and her most recent book Steal Away Home has received critical praise throughout the literary world for it's unique blend of archaeological and historical research, mixed with compelling and descriptive story-telling.
Grey County Reads is a county-wide reading program involving seven local libraries, including Grey Highlands, Hanover, Meaford, Owen Sound, Southgate, Town of Blue Mountains and West Grey. Five local celebrities will advocate for five Canadian books beginning in January.
Readers are encouraged to follow along with the contest, consider each book and it’s celebrity endorsement. Pick up your own copy of one or more of these books and give us your opinion too. Books are available in limited quantities from your local public library or may be purchased from your favourite local bookstore.
Read any or all of the Grey County Reads books and/or read each of the book synopses and celebrity installments posted on SouthGrey.ca starting January, 2019.
Grey County Reads is supported through advertising by these local businesses:
The Bicycle Café
Chapman's Ice Cream
The Colour Jar
ColourPix Graphic Design Services
Grey County Public Libraries
Grey Roots Museum and Archives
John Tamming Law
Larry Miller, MP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound
Nature's Path Osteopathy and Alternative Healing
Owen Sound Transportation Company
The Restaurant - Leela's Villa Inn
Speaking Volumes Books and Audio
Bill Walker, MPP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound
West Grey Chamber of Commerce