My Interview With Steve Burrows: Author of Birder Murder Mysteries!
Updated: Sep 17, 2022
I'm excited to share my interview with Steve Burrows, the creator of the best-selling Birder Murder Mystery Series featuring DCI Domenic Jejeune.
Steve emigrated to Canada from the UK and now lives in Oshawa, Ontario.
The seventh book in the series, A Foreboding of Petrels, has just been released!
1. Which came first for you: birding or writing?
I probably developed an interest in both at around the same time, which is
to say my pre-teens. But I pursued birding in my youth whereas I didn’t
really take up writing until I was in my thirties.
2. What inspired your interest in birds?
My interest in birds came from walks around the local parks with my
parents as a child. We lived in an urban neighbourhood and these small
oases of greenery gave me a window into the natural world that I found
3. Do you have a favourite bird or birds? What makes it/them so special?
While I have been lucky enough to see rare and exotic birds around the
world, I also have an appreciation for backyard birds like Black-capped
Chickadees. I think familiar, endearing species like this can really help to
engage ‘urban’ birders.
4. When did you start writing fiction?
I’d been dabbling all through my days as a freelance travel and nature
writer, but I actually sat down for the first time to seriously begin a novel in
5. Are you a full-time writer? And how do you manage your time?
I try to set aside a few hours each day for writing, so in that sense, I suppose
I am a professional, but I do still work part-time and pursue a number of
other interests and activities, so I certainly wouldn’t consider writing to be
my full-time activity.
6. I think you’ve said the role of a detective is similar to a birder’s? In what way?
Both activities rely on paying attention to detail, and also on piecing
together information. If I’m confused about which bird I might be looking
at, I’ll consider the possibilities based on habitat, behavior, season etc. and
try to come up with an answer based on that.
7. What prompted you to develop the interesting character of DCI Domenic Jejeune?
I wanted a character who defied the literary conventions of a detective who
was older (Jejeune is young), lonely (Jejeune is in a stable, loving
relationship) and at odds with authority (Jejeune is feted by his superiors).
In pushing back against the standard ‘profile’ of a detective, the character of
Domenic Jejeune gradually emerged.
8. You’ve travelled extensively and pursued your birdwatching hobby on eight
continents. So, why did you choose the village of Saltmarsh on the North Norfolk
coast in England as the primary setting for your books? And does Saltmarsh exist?
Saltmarsh is a fictional amalgamation of a number of villages and towns on
the North Norfolk coast in the U.K. I chose the area as it’s rich in birdlife
and has plenty of varied habitats in which I could set scenes. I wanted an
‘English Village’ feel for the series, and an area where birding was such a
predominant activity seemed to be an excellent fit.
9. In 'A Cast of Falcons' some of the book is set in Scotland. Did you visit Scotland as
part of your research for the book?
My wife and I spent a couple of weeks driving around Scotland, checking
out the locations that appear in the book, and many others. I also visited a
couple of single-malt whisky distilleries, but sadly, I wasn’t able to work any
distillery scenes into the storyline.
10. There is an intriguing backstory in the series. Where did the ideas for this come from?
I thought it might be interesting to shroud the personal life of the main
character in mystery when we meet him, and then gradually reveal his
family history through a series of inter-related backstories.
11. Does one have to read all the books in the series to appreciate your new book (and in
the correct order!)?
Each story is a stand-alone mystery that is solved by the end of the book.
There is some continuity in the backstories, but even then, each new aspect
constitutes a separate episode, so the books definitely do not have to be
read in order.
12. Please give a brief description of A Foreboding of Petrels. I think the petrel’s habitat is
the southern oceans? Does this mean that Jejeune has left Norfolk?
I try to introduce an exotic locale in each of the books, while still centering
the action around North Norfolk. In A Foreboding of Petrels, Jejeune is
suspended from duties temporarily, so he has time to investigate a
suspicious death that has taken place at an Antarctic research station.
13. When and where is your book
launch? Are we all invited?
The book has already been
published in the U.K. and was
released in North America on
September 13th. We will be
holding a launch party at
Different Drummer Books in
Burlington on Saturday,
October 1st at 4:00. All are most
definitely welcome, and as an
added enticement, I can tell you
our launches always feature
14. What other events will you be attending to promote your book?
I am on an author panel at the Headwaters Arts Festival near Orangeville on
Sunday Oct 2nd, and I’ll be giving a presentation at the Burlington Public
Library on Nov 10th as part of the Burlington Literary Festival.
15. I hear there is a competition that independent bookstores can participate in. Where
can they find out more information?
Readers who buy a copy of the new book from an independent bookstore
before October 15th, will be entered into a draw to win a signed set of the
entire Birder Murder mystery series. Your local independent bookstore will
have all the details, but they can also be found on my web site
16. There are plans to develop a television series based on your books. Congratulations!
When will we be able to watch this on tv?
The TV series has been in the planning stages for a long time, but the last
update I received a couple of months ago suggested the producers were
getting closer to beginning production. I have no television industry
experience whatsoever, so I’m afraid I couldn't even begin to guess at the
timeline from production to broadcast. As soon as I have any updates,
though, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.
17. What genre of books do you enjoy reading? And do you have a couple of favourites
you’d like to tell us about?
I’ve always enjoyed spy thrillers and legal thrillers. I’d consider John le Carre
and Scott Turow to be on the leading edge of their respective fields, and I
have rarely been disappointed by either.
18. For me and my writer colleagues, what writing advice can you share?
Get something written down. Having a wonderful concept in your head is
one thing, but until the words are actually on a document, you can’t really
begin the process of editing and refining those raw ideas into a polished
19. Will there be an eighth book in the series? If so, can you give us a teaser?
I am currently working on the eighth Birder Murder, and my contract calls
for at least one more after that. In the eighth installment, Jejeune is having
to adjust to some personnel changes within the department. I can’t reveal
too much other than to say all is not going smoothly.
20. Where can readers buy your books?
The books are available in all major retailers and independent bookstores,
as well as Amazon, Google Books, Kobo etc. The entire series (including the
new one) is also available as an audiobook.
A big 'thank you' to Steve for taking time to answer these questions!
And, by the way, I recommend his books!
For more information, check out Steve’s website: https://www.steveburrows.org
PS I'm way behind Steve Burrows - I'm only on my 5th book in the Meg Sheppard
Mystery Series: I've almost finished the first draft!