Regina man becomes author at 70 years old, publishes 5 books during pandemic

Keith Landry had always dreamed of writing. When the pandemic hit, he had nothing but time.

Keith Landry had always dreamed of writing

Keith Landry is a Regina-based author who has published multiple books during the pandemic. (Submitted by Keith Landry)

Keith Landry had always dreamed of writing. When the pandemic hit, he had nothing but time. 

The Regina man has spent the pandemic poring over newspapers from the 1920s and has now published six true crime books. He doesn't plan to slow down. 

Landry started writing just before the pandemic. Sixty-nine-years-old at the time, Landry had decided it was time to write about the stories that fascinated him for years. It started with hearing stories from his grandfather, a Quebec high constable.  

"When I was about 10 or 11 years of age, my grandfather had told me about a story that he had been involved in. It was a mass murder that took place in 1933," Landry told The Morning Edition. "Since then, you know, those sorts of events always stayed with me."

Landry's first book Allumette Island Massacre and Three Other Canadian Crime Stories was released on Amazon on Dec. 16, 2019, just after his 70th birthday. According to Amazon, the first printing of the novel sold out within three weeks. It currently has a 4.5 star rating. 

It become a spectacle in that part of the country.- Keith Landry

In it, Landry tells the story of Michael Bradley, who during the Great Depression was having trouble with his father and family over the land they had bought during good years. Landry said the man killed his entire family over arguments about how the farm should be run. 

"It became a spectacle in that part of the country and such a big story at the time," Landry said.

Landry said he had been imagining writing stories for most of his adult life, but due to a busy career in public service he only wrote two short stories in the late 1980s. He said retirement is a chance to do the things he always wanted to. Soon after his first book published, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Landry was confined in his home. 

"There wasn't a lot to do, so I just started writing and writing and writing, and that's what I do most days now," he said. 

Dalpe and the Communist Spies is one of the books Keith Landry wrote during the pandemic. (Submitted by Keith Landry)

Landry's work is part non-fiction and part fiction. He said he takes documented events — such as the trial — verbatim and then he builds around them. There are also some Saskatchewan connections in Landry's books. 

One book — The Boarding School at the end of the dirt road —  is about a father sending his two teenage boys away after their mother dies. It's based partly on Landry's own experience at Athol Murray's Notre Dame College at Wilcox, Sask. 

The Boarding School at the end of the dirt road is a book by Keith Landry. While the book is fiction, much of it is taken from Landry's own time at the Athol Murray Notre Dame boarding school in Wilcox, Sask. (Submitted by Keith Landry)

Murder Tales from the Archives is a true crime book set partially in the province. It chronicles eight true crime stories found in daily newspapers, historically retold in the book. It is currently top 50 in True Crime in the Kindle Store and in 95th place in the top 100 list in True Crime Books.

One part is about a Sask. farmer who is afflicted by periods of dark moods and murders his stepson. Another chronicles a young Sask. trooper killing another with a knife over a young school teacher. 

Landry's books are a family effort. His wife is his editor and in his Amazon biography he thanks his niece for her illustrations in the books. Landry said following the dream of writing and publishing is fabulous. 

"It's just fabulous. Just having one person read my book and give a review is an unbelievable feeling for a man 70 years of age."

With files from The Morning Edition