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Works done and in progress

Requiem Shark

When an aging surfer is killed by a big bull shark off the Florida coast, an odd collection of footloose misfits is drawn to the beach where he died—two friends who served with him in Vietnam, two 30-something wildlife journalists drawn by the chance of a story to jumpstart their careers, and Kelli Ryder, a seventeen-year-old dropout with high school behind her and an uncertain future ahead, whose heroic attempt to take the shark’s victim away from it makes front-page news.

Together they become an uneasy and contentious fellowship on a mission of revenge or redemption or renewal—none of them is sure which. And as they set out aboard a barely seaworthy 45-foot research vessel to hunt sharks, Kelli’s selfless courage and obdurate optimism rekindle long-extinguished fires in her older companions.

She leads them on an odyssey down the Indian River Lagoon through one of the most diverse coastal ecosystems in the world, westward on the Okeechobee Waterway into a hurricane clawing its way ashore on the Gulf Coast, and onto a sun-blasted inland sea on the edge of the Everglades where they confront—in the form of the very shark that Kelli has already faced once—their pasts, their problems, and their destinies.

The Long Roll

Praise for The Long Roll

"At times somber, frequently stirring, occasionally funny, always captivating, Burnette's prose transports you to other times and places almost as if by magic."
–Daniel James Brown, author of
The Boys in the Boat

Christmas in Sunny California

The parents were nestled all snug in their beds. And the children were up well past midnight, with toys to deliver. At least that’s the way it was for one family, one Christmas morning in sunny California where it never looks a lot like Christmas. Well, almost never. Christmas in Sunny California is a warm-hearted and light-hearted story—and a quick, fun read for the busy holiday season.

Summer Haven Bridge (in progress)

Summer Haven Bridge carries you across Bee Tree Creek to a narrow gravel road that tunnels through overhanging hemlock and pitch pine with mountains crowding close on either side. A road where shadows fall early in the afternoon and small lights glimmer through the trees at night and things rustle in the brush along the roadside.

It is a road out of the past, and into it, where long-lost things are lamented and things not long for this world linger a while. The whippoorwill and the chestnut tree. The trillium and the dulcimer. Fireflies and kerosene lanterns, ginseng and butter churns, panthers and haints. And stories told down the generations since the first Scotts Irish brought their numinous imaginings and fey visions with them to the otherworldly mists of the Smoky Mountains.

This story is the story of two men—an aged former governor of North Carolina, living in genteel seclusion at the very end of Summer Haven Road, and a young researcher come to the Blue Ridge to see for himself how the haunting landscape shapes the mind of the story teller. They are enlightened skeptics, these two, men who have seen technology's relentless triumph over myth, but both admit that beneath the intellectual veneer lies a yearning for things that cannot be explained.

The governor agrees to become the researcher’s guide, but what starts out as a summer of growing friendship and a carefree jaunt through the land where the mountains meet the sky turns into a summer of tragedy, grief, and darkness.

For hovering around them is something more frightening than the ghosts of the old tales, the woman in grey who walks across plowed fields and leaves no tracks and the spectral servant who wanders the laurel-tangled mountain slopes with a lantern in search of his lost master. Something powerful. Something angry. Something that can be everywhere and see everything, that can harm but can't be harmed.