Bockstael releases debut novel


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/07/2022 (253 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


After a career spent entertaining audiences on the stage and screen, St. Boniface native Robert Bockstael has now also turned his hand to another creative pursuit — writing his first novel.

Published by Pender Lake Press, Willow’s Run is about protagonist Alcima (The Willow) Willoughby, an Olympic volleyball player on the run from her sadistic husband in a multi-million dollar RV she stole from him.

Willoughby is in withdrawal from pain medication and battling a crippling injury. She almost makes it across the country; running on empty, on the outskirts of a half-forgotten tourist town, she’s forced to make a hard moral choice — a choice that turns her world upside down.

“She steals the RV, drives across the U.S. as she’s withdrawing, and rolls it. The local people come to her aid and they hide her, as her husband is coming for her. She meets people that have secrets of their own, who have a past and who might be on the run, which is an overriding theme. It’s fun, very fast-paced and all the characters are smart,” Bockstael said.

“It’s the book that I wanted to read. I’m an avid reader and books have always been a huge part of my life. No matter how many times I read this book, I continue to be entertained by it. I get lost in the story. Although it’s not a kids’ book, there’s something for everyone else, I think. There are characters everyone can identify with. Some people have told me they didn’t want to go to work when they were reading it as they couldn’t put it down.”

Bockstael said the book was whittled down to about 450 pages after numerous drafts over a number of years. He’s thankful for the contributions of everyone that played a part in the creation of Willow’s Run, including the editing support of Tim Wynne-Jones, as well as Bockstael’s son, Henry, whose contributions include coming up with the name of the book.

Now living in Ottawa, Bockstael was born and raised in St. Boniface, and then lived in Southdale before eventually moving east. His father, Joe Bockstael, was a city engineer and also served as an alderman, and some of his cousins continue to run Bockstael Construction. His godfather, and namesake, was the Liberal MP for Winnipeg Centre during Pierre Trudeau’s years at the helm.

In addition to acting, Bockstael includes writing, directing, and voice work on his resume,. His acting roles include a part in the television drama North of 60. He was also recently featured in the film Fatman, appearing opposite Mel Gibson.

The novel is available in physical and digital formats. Visit at for more information.

Simon Fuller

Simon Fuller
Community Journalist

Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at or call him at 204-697-7111.

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