The Next Chapter

Steve Burrows loves birdwatching and mysteries — and has made careers in both

In this 2015 interview, the mystery writer spoke with Shelagh Rogers about his Birder Murder Mystery series, which will soon to be adapted for television.
A Dance of Cranes is a mystery novel by Steve Burrows. (Dundurn Press)

This interview originally aired on March 28, 2020.

Steve Burrows has travelled the world on birdwatching adventures. The author and birding enthusiast from Oshawa, Ont., has turned his passion into an award-winning crime series.

A Dance of Cranes is the sixth book in his Birder Murder Mystery series featuring detective Domenic Jejeune. In 2020, it was announced that the series will be brought to television in a British-Canadian co-production. 

In 2015, Burrows spoke with Shelagh Rogers about his love of nature and writing the crime series.

Nature watch

"I've always had an interest in nature. One of the universal things, no matter where you go, is birdwatching societies and areas where birds congregate. It's very transferable as a hobby. 

The more birdwatching you do, the more you're encouraged to do what you feel like doing.​​​​​​

"The more birdwatching you do, the more you're encouraged to do what you feel like doing. Gradually it becomes a case of, 'Can I see this bird in this continent, or am I gonna be fortunate enough to go to this place and see these birds?' It's kind of built over the years."

Rather be birding

"The detective in the series, Domenic Jejeune, feels in some ways trapped into this line of detective work, because of all the support from his superiors and everyone telling him how well he does his job and how important it is. He feels a responsibility to stay with his job but he doesn't enjoy the work.

It constantly reminds him that, instead of solving murders, he could be out birding.

"There's a real contrast between being out in nature — the positivity and the exhilaration of being out in the wilderness and just enjoying watching birds — and then to come into these areas where there's so much sorrow and despair and anguish is very jarring for him. 

"It constantly reminds him that, instead of solving murders, he could be out birding."

Word counts

"I am an ex-English teacher so I have that pedant in me who likes to have the right word. I have been known on occasion to correct my wife for the choice of the wrong word here and there. Language is so rich, and has so many ways to express certain things, that it's important to me to choose a word that is appropriate. 

Language is so rich, and has so many ways to express certain things, that it's important to me to choose a word that is appropriate.

"Unfortunately, with social media there's a tendency to take the quick route to expression rather than the correct one. If there's not some people protecting the language, which sounds a bit presumptuous, I think there's a real danger that we can get to a situation where people are saying things and being misinterpreted far more often than they are now."

Steve Burrows's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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