Tony Berryman longed to be a writer ever since he was in middle school. Now that he released his first novel The Night Nurse decades later, he’s filled with a youthful exuberance.

“I’m bursting into maniacal laughter on a regular basis and am just absolutely excited to wake up each day,” he said. “I can’t sleep: I’m just so excited.”

Berryman had all kinds of plans for “a big old fashioned rah-rah book launch” with events across B.C. and into Alberta.

“This interesting world situation that we find ourselves in has definitely thrown a few chinks into my plans,” he said.

While his book tour and readings are on hold for now, he’s sticking with the adage that – COVID-19 or not – the best time to release a book is when it’s ready.

“I am excited to have this block of time to send The Night Nurse out into the world. I’m not able to do in-person readings like I’d planned, but that time will come,” he said. “These past couple of months have been very busy with formatting, editing, marketing and business details. These days at home are pretty handy.”

Berryman’s novel is a massage-therapy thriller in which Jackson – a massage therapist with an obsession for patterns – notices similarities in the deaths of his elderly patients. Meanwhile Wendy – a nurse “who cares far too much about her patients’ pain and knows a hundred ways to move them beyond it” and who heads west every time someone begins to suspect her – is tired of running.

“These two start spiralling towards each other and they can let each other go. They’re both totally committed to their paths,” he said.

Berryman, a former massage therapist himself, thought his previous profession needed a hero. He was also struck by how much access he had to clients and their homes as a travelling massage therapist.

“I got a sneak peak at the insides of people’s lives,” he said. “For me one of the best things about it was I got to look at people’s bookshelves. It was a tremendously rewarding career and I have very fond memories of that time.”

Berryman said COVID-19 hasn’t changed much for him beyond his book launch plans.

“I tend to be a stay-home introvert, and I was already between jobs, so the biggest changes I see are not being able to visit friends and no cafe coffee,” he said.

Berryman’s book is available online or readers in the valley can reach out to him to order a physical copy at nightnurse@tonyberryman.com. While book launches may not be allowed in this time of social distancing, reading certainly is.

The Pioneer is not responsible for any creepy-crawlies or shivers the story may induce.