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Game Over: NYM children's book author pens first adult fiction novel

MARY DUBOIS, who authored several children's books under the pen name of Mary B. Koski, has now written her first fiction novel for adults. She will be doing two book signings in Detroit Lakes on Tuesday, June 14. The first will be at the M State Student Life Center from 1 to 3 p.m., and the second at Book World from 3:30 to 4 p.m.

Though she is an award-winning author of children's books, Mary DuBois' latest release, Game Over, is her first foray into adult fiction -- and in fact, she started writing it before her children's series became a success.

Under the name Mary B. Koski -- which was her married name -- DuBois wrote a series of children's books, several of them centered around the character of Impatient Pamela.

Those children's books have been translated into five languages, and have won numerous accolades including the American Library Association's Children's Choice Award; the National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval; and a Writer's Choice Award.

For Game Over, her first work of fiction geared toward adults, Mary chose to use the pen name of Bernie DuBois.

"I took my great grandmother's married name, DuBois, when I got my divorce several years ago," Mary said. "I added my middle name, Bernie. It seemed like a nice, strong name for adventure."

Though most of the work for Game Over was completed in the past couple of years, Mary said she got the idea for the novel and started writing it many years earlier.

"I started the story several years ago, and kept it in my top drawer," she said.

"I was so inspired by what happened to a member of my family when she became a compulsive gambler," Mary said. "She committed crimes to support her gaming habit.

"She was finally able to stop gambling, but what strength she needed to be able to do that!"

So Mary started writing a novel that centered on twin themes of compulsive gambling and Native American tribal sovereignty.

When the tribal sovereignty issue began coming to the forefront of the public eye again a couple of years ago, Mary was inspired to take that old manuscript out of the drawer.

"It just seemed like it was time to dust it off, rewrite and update it, and bring it to the world," she said.

"I have many other (writing) ideas, and I wanted to bring this book to fruition so I could move on to my next story."

The central plot of Game Over is about a compulsive gambler overcoming her addictions while raising a family, interwoven with a parallel story about a Native American man who is struggling to find his role within his tribe and dealing with issues of tribal sovereignty.

The two characters eventually meet at the college where they are both enrolled in law school -- and a romance slowly unfolds.

Though Mary struggled a bit with the romantic aspect -- most people in the throes of addiction are not looking to embark on a relationship, she emphasized -- the final manuscript actually turned out "even better than I'd hoped," she said.

"It's a little unlikely," Mary said of the romance that springs up between her two main characters, Debbie Walker and Craig Two Horses. "But it worked out really well in this case... they came together at the perfect time in both of their lives."

In fact, it's the characters' romance that serves to mesh the story's two main themes together, Mary added.

Quite a lot of research went into the finished novel, as becomes apparent when Mary is asked to discuss the issue of compulsive gambling.

"Five percent of our population in Minnesota has problems with gambling -- either compulsive, or problem gambling," she said. "That's a lot."

People of college age are particularly susceptible, according to the statistics. "They have a higher percentage than 5 percent," Mary said. "Part of that comes from online gambling."

College students can access online gambling sites directly from their dorm rooms, she added --and televised Texas Hold 'Em poker tournaments have given this form of entertainment "celebrity status."

"Gambling has become totally socially acceptable, where it used to be considered a sin," she said.

Of course, the advent of Indian gaming casinos has also brought temptation much closer to home for many people -- particularly the elderly, who can often find a bus that will pick them up directly at their home or assisted living facility and bring them to the casino for the day, then bring them home at night.

"A recent study in Wisconsin showed that out of every seven senior citizens getting Social Security, three of them would spend some (not necessarily all) of it at a local casino," Mary said.

Gaming has been a major economic development tool for many Native American tribes across the country, helping them raise funds to improve health care and education, and increase employment opportunities as well.

But it has its down side as well, Mary noted. For those people who become addicted, having a casino so close to home makes gaming "much more invasive in their daily lives," she added.

And then there's the politically charged issue of gaming revenue as it pertains to tribal sovereignty. In Minnesota, the state does not have legal access to any tribal gaming revenue -- prompting some lawmakers to propose that gaming be made legal outside reservation land, on a limited basis.

"That's where our future struggles are going to be -- what is fair, and what is just," Mary said.

In her book, she added, she tries to give balance to both issues.

For instance, while Debbie struggles with her addiction in one scene, in another, an elderly couple has just won a casino jackpot and is trying to decide how to spend it.

"I myself love to gamble," Mary said, adding that she did "quite a bit of it" as research for her book. "I can see why it's such a great part of our entertainment industry.

"I thought I was able to bring those two issues (gambling and tribal sovereignty) together with romance, and it worked really well -- but readers will have the ultimate say as to whether it works or not."

For those who would like to read Game Over, Mary "Bernie" DuBois will be signing copies of her book at two separate locations in Detroit Lakes on Tuesday, June 14.

She will be at the Student Life Center on the campus of Minnesota State Community & Technical College-Detroit Lakes from 1 to 3 p.m., and at Book World from 3:30 to 4 p.m.

Some of the proceeds from DuBois' M State book signing will be donated to the Detroit Lakes Area College Foundation.

If you can't be present for the book signings, however, copies are also available at most area booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and Game Over is available in e-book form as well.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454