My Books

HANGMAN: The true story of Canada’s first official executioner, October, 2022, Tidewater Press

Front cover: Hangman by Julie Burtinshaw

Is delivering a swift death really a higher calling? Or is it just government-sanctioned murder?

John Radclive hates being called Hangman. He is no murderous thug; he is a highly trained executioner who relies on science to bring God’s mercy to condemned criminals. As Canada’s first official executioner, he revels in the salary, status and perks that come with the job. In his off hours, he enjoys masquerading as Thomas Ratley, steward at Toronto’s prestigious Sunnyside Rowing Club where he secretly sneers at the hypocrisy of the Canadian elite. 

But dispensing mercy presumes that the condemned are guilty. The more convicted felons he meets, the more Radclive begins to question the Canadian justice system and his role within it—perhaps he is a hangman after all. 

The Perfect Cut

The Darkness Between the Stars (Fall 2010 Release)
The Freedom of Jenny
How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth (essay in anthology)
Romantic Ghost Stories
Dead Reckoning


Saying Goodbye to London, 2018

The story has moments of sweet romance along with gritty realism, and teens will be drawn into what feels like a true story…. Though teen pregnancy is declining throughout the industrialized world, it is still a challenging reality. Saying Goodbye to London provides an unvarnished look at that reality through the eyes of two believable young adults. (CM: Canadian Review of Materials)

Buy my books on Indigo or Amazon


The Perfect Cut

The freedom of Jenny

Teen Fiction:

The Darkness Between the Stars, BENJAMIN brown books, 2010

While Kate and her brother are very close to each other, there is one large difference between them – a chasm that widens over time – and threatens to destroy both of them. Will Kate be able to save her brother from himself or will his increasingly dark outlook on life take him to a place where nobody will ever be able to reach him?

The Perfect Cut, Raincoast Publishing 2008

What do you do when you find yourself not caring about anything? How do you handle being so detached from your life that you choose feeling pain over feeling absolutely nothing at all?
After the death of his tough, guitar-playing, beloved sister, Michelle, Bryan finds it increasingly difficult to feel anything. He doesn’t care about his parents. He doesn’t care about his friends. Or school. Or anything. The only time he comes alive these days is during the few seconds it takes for the razor to cut his skin. He hasn’t cut deep enough to cause any real damage. Not yet.

Adrift, Raincoast Publishing, 2002

At 14, David Garrett lives in an unhappy house. His mother is acting strangely, retreating to bed and pleading for time alone. His father buries himself in his work. When his mother is checked into an institution for clinical depression, David and his 10-year-old sister Laura are shipped from Toronto to their Aunt Jenn’s home in Desolation Sound, B.C. Soon it looks like their situation might be permanent. The brother-sister team steal a dinghy and head for the deserted caves on Dragon Island, intent on calling their father’s bluff. A stormy sea and an accident on the cliffs turn defiance into desperation — and David’s “crazy family” is the only hope for rescue.

Historical Fiction:

The Freedom of Jenny, Raincoast Publishing 2005

After Jenny and her family earn their freedom, the idealistic former slaves journey from Missouri to California. Their initially warm reception quickly cools, so they participate in a mass emigration of free blacks to a wild British Columbia island, where Jenny – only 14 – helps her tragically diminished family forge a homestead.

Dead Reckoning, Raincoast Publishing, 2000

When 14-year-old James boards the steamship Valencia in San Francisco’s harbour in 1906 he knows his nightmares are omens of an ill-fated passage. Apprehensively, he explores the ship with Alex, a fellow traveller who introduces him to oblivious passengers and crew. When a violent storm and thick fog reduce the navigators to dead reckoning, James braces himself for the worst. The vessel runs aground in the Juan de Fuca Strait, 50 metres from shore, in seas too rocky for rescue. While victims cling to the masts in the gale, the boys board the last lifeboat … Only 20 people survive and over 200 passengers and crew are killed–a sea disaster as horrible as the sinking of the Titanic–as the Valencia sinks to its watery grave off what is now the West Coast Trail

Essays and Excerpts:

How to Achieve Heaven on Earth, “Ending Poverty One Loan at a Time,” Pelican Publishing, 2010,

This collection of inspirational essays from 101 of the world’s leading thinkers, statesmen, artists, and theologians addresses the question of how to make the world a better place. Contributors include Al Gore, David Brooks, Tony Blair, Thomas L. Friedman, George Bush, Nicholas D. Kristoff, Leonard Pitts Jr., James K. Glassman, Ted Turner, and many more.

Literacy in Action: On the Move, Excerpt; Freedom of Jenny, Pearson Education Canada, Grade 8 English Program, 2009


OLA, White Pine Award Nominee (2010)
Canadian Children’s Book Centre – Best Books for Teens (2009)
Stellar Book Award (2008)
Canadian Library Association, Book of the Year (2002)
Chocolate Lilly (British Columbia, 2003)
CanWest Global’s Raise-a-Reader Club (2003)
Reader’s Choice Award (2002)
Red Cedar (British Columbia, 2003-2004)
Diamond Willow (Saskatchewan, 2002)


17 responses to “My Books

  1. Tracey Murray/Smith

    Hi. I am wondering how to get my children’s book I wrote and illustrated published. I have been surfing the web trying to find answers. It’s overwelming and I just really want to know how to get started. I’m finding most of the publishers want a big chunck of money which I don’t have and the big publishers don’t take unsolicited manuscripts. So how does an unestablished author, like myself, get started? Thank you.

  2. Laura Valvasori-Black

    Hi, Julie-

    I’m an aspiring teen-fiction writer, currently living in Moncton, and I just finished reading “The Perfect Cut”, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Some of the themes are similar to those in my own novel; it’s been in the works for several years; and I’m wondering who your agent is/was. From one Canadian to another, I trust that you know what the market is like, for our genre, and can give the best advice to an unpublished writer, like myself, on how to proceed.

    Thanks for your time, and looking forward to reading more of your work. Happy new year!


    Laura VB.

    • Hi Laura,
      Sorry about taking such a long time to reply – Christmas craziness. Anyway, my publisher, Raincoast Books stopped publishing and now is a distributor – that seems to be the way of the publishing world these days and most of the big houses are in Toronto. Books like the Perfect Cut are difficult to publish – the subject is not necessarily parent friendly and certainly the religious right wouldn’t want to see it in their schools. It’s the kids who love these real-life, edgy stories about the issues they are dealing with on a daily basis. So my advice to you is to find a small, local publisher who is willing to take a bit of a risk. Keep sending out the manuscript and eventually, with a little luck and perseverance, it will be published. When that happens, let me know!

    • Julie

      Hi Laura,
      I should have mentioned that when somebody like you (a reader) sends somebody like me (a writer) a note like this one, it is the very best part of writing a book 🙂
      Thank you,
      My next book is coming soon and I really hope that it touches you in the same way.

  3. Pingback: Heaven on Earth… If I had a Magic Wand | Conquer The Invisible

  4. Rebecca Jessop

    Hello I just finished “The Perfect Cut” and fell in love with it. I don’t read much because I can’t find books I like but this book is my new favorite. I hope I can find or you write more books like this.:)

    New fan

    Rebecca J

  5. Shannon

    Hi! I read “The Perfect Cut” a little while ago, and almost as if on purpose, it came to my attention that my friend was cutting. It affected me greatly because we’re both experiencing lots of problems. Anyways, I love that book and I was just wondering how you got the idea or inspiration for a book like this?? 🙂

    • Julie

      Hi Shannon,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to write to me, and I’m thrilled you liked The Perfect Cut and that maybe it helped your friend. I first got the idea for this book when I heard a song by Nine Inch Nails (originally by Johnny Cash) called Hurt. I didn’t really get the lyrics and when I looked them up, I discovered cutting and the world of self-hurt. Kids knew all about this, but adults didn’t, so I started looking into it and pretty soon I had some interesting characters in my head!
      That’s usually how it goes,

  6. Tristan. S

    Hello i read the book “The perfect cut” back in highschool and i thought it was an incredible story. Back then i was deep in the blues because i was in a new school and i was all alone but after reading that book it inspired me to find happyness in my new school, thank you Julie for writing that book and I hope to read more of your novels in the future :).


  7. Ariel

    I’m reading The Freedom Of Jenny right now. I looked up your name to seeif you’d written other books and I saw a bunch of other books! Awesome! 🙂

  8. Ariel

    The Freedom Of Jenny is a really REAL good book!!!! 😛

  9. Barbra-Jean Jennings

    hey Julie
    first off i love your book called “the perfect cut” when i was readin it, it was like it was speakin to me i really enjoyed it 🙂 I’m also doing my English assingment on you and was wondering if i had any questions that you would be willing to awnser them for me? plz reply
    your new fan
    Barbra-Jean Lyn Jennings

    • Hi, Of course I would be happy to answer any questions you might like to send my way thank you so much for taking the time to let me know how you felt about Perfect Cut — thoughts and comments like yours are one of the biggest reasons for me to keep writing! Julie

      Julie Burtinshaw

      Author The Darkness Between the Stars Dead Reckoning Adrift Romantic Ghost Stories The Freedom of Jenny The Perfect Cut (2008) How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth

  10. Max Philips

    I loved your Book “The Perfect Cut” and I loved it so much at the start I read the entire book in about 10 hours. I am 14 and don’t like a lot of books but this one is one I will reread over and over.
    Go Canada. -Max Phillips

  11. very impressed with your work and hope to read some of your books, my grandaughter Dana, has started writing, she is 14 and loves it….

    might run in the family,,,,,,,regards jan palmer (nee burtinshaw) i also like writing but find it extremely difficult to words to papaer……

  12. Heather

    My name is Heather and I live with your son James in Victoria…I just found out that you are an author! How exciting, I look forward to reading some of your work soon!

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