His first book is barely off the press and Red Deer author John Burnham has already started on its sequel.
On Thursday, the retired bush pilot and former member of the United States Navy will read from his mystery novel The Kitten Burglar and talk about the twisting path that brought him to his new career.
His talk is a pilot for a new lecture series, the Time of your Life, being proposed by people who have found new vocations in their retirement.
Burnham, 70, moved to Red Deer from Dawson Creek, B.C., in 2002, seeking treatment options for Mary-Lee, his wife of 36 years.
Diagnosed with cancer, Mary Lee needed a series of second-line chemotherapy treatments that were not available in Dawson Creek.
“Our choices were Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Red Deer,” Burnham said.
They came to Red Deer because the cancer clinic is as good as any of the others, but the trip between the hospital and their home on Forest Close would be much shorter and easier than in the larger cities.
Mary Lee died in 2003, leaving Burnham to pursue a new career and to find a new sweetheart.
He learned a few years after his wife’s death that Rochelle, a woman he had dated when they were 19 and living in Colorado Springs, had become a widow. Burnham got in touch with his first love, the flames were ignited anew and Rochelle moved to Canada to marry her former sweetheart.
Burnham said his first piece of fiction came about after years spent in various aspects of wordsmithing.
“I’ve done a lot of writing and a lot of technical writing in my time, and did some writing for political people and I did a column for a newspaper (Alaska Highway News) for awhile. When it became apparent that I was going to retire, I just thought I’d get serious about writing.”
The Kitten Burglar tells the tale of a cat burglar who has the goods on the mob and needs to decide whether to carry on a life of crime or accept an offer to change her identity and become a crime fighter.
In the sequel, she has made her choice but finds her new career somewhat lacking, so moves on to become a private investigator.
Sunworks in Red Deer is now carrying the book and it is also available online from Chapters, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Thursday’s reading and associated events are set for 6 p.m. in the Waskasoo-Kiwanis meeting room on the second floor of the library’s downtown branch.