Park warden’s job continues to inspire Penticton author
David Butler completes 3rd novel in award-winning Jenny Willson Mystery series, with its release set for September
Anovel recently named one of the best new environmental books is written by an award-winning author born and raised in Penticton. “No Place for Wolverines” is David Butler’s second novel in his award-winning Jenny Willson Mystery series and earned its most recent accolade of best environmental book from The Relevator website.
After graduating from Penticton Secondary School in 1976, Butler attended UBC and graduated with a degree in forestry and wildlife.
While Butler was whisked away to Banff, Alta., to work as a park warden after, his passion for photography opened up the world of writing when he attempted to sell photos to magazines.
“Editors and publishers of major magazines would say, ‘These are great photos, but then I have to hire a writer to do the story.’ So I started pitching them on stories and photographs,” he said.
Butler’s experience in non-fiction writing amasses roughly 20 years, as he spent his career working as a warden, an auxiliary RCMP officer and now for Canadian Mountain Holidays in Cranbrook.
“I’ve always had, like many people, I guess, that old, ‘Gee, I’d really like to write a novel one day,’” he said.
His knowledge of wildlife and tourism earned Butler the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012 after he helped set up the well-known Destination BC program.
It also inspired his Jenny Willson Mystery series.
“I took a travel-writing course with a woman who’s a well-established Canadian author, named Angie Abdou,” said Butler. “She phoned me up one day after the course and said, ‘I’m going to be doing this directed studies course and I’m only going to take 10 students, and you basically just have to write a chapter a week — that’s the course.’”
It was this moment that Butler knew it was time to put pen to paper, and the chapter he wrote each week became what’s now known as the series’ first novel, “Full Curl,” which was published in the fall of 2017 and is loosely inspired by Butler’s time in Banff.
“Full Curl” won the Arthur Ellis award for “best first crime novel in Canada” in early 2018.
“I used it as a bit of validation for the writing,” he said. “Even being shortlisted for an award like that made me think, ‘All right, I’m on the right track here.’”
His third novel has already been written and will be released in September.
The series follows the life of park warden Jenny Willson and tackles a variety of socioeconomic and political issues in the world today, as friends are turned against friends, family against family and small-town communities are threatened with being torn apart.
While “Full Curl” and “No Place for Wolverines” bring readers on a journey through B.C. and the United States, Butler’s third novel, “In Rhino We Trust,” will transport his audience all the way to Namibia, Africa.
“I started the first novel with a male main protagonist, and it just didn’t feel right somehow,” Butler explained.
Married with two daughters, Butler jokes that he had “experts” to work with as he created the life of Jenny Willson.
“I find myself now, whenever I’m in social or business situations . . . I spend a lot more time paying attention to what women are facing,” Butler added, saying these situations help him understand a woman’s perspective and his own character better.
Asked about the possibility of a movie deal, Butler said he wouldn’t turn the offer down and that he has been working with a screenwriter.