Book Talk: John Verdon uses retirement to hone new skills

Wed Jul 7, 2010 6:01am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - When advertising executive John Verdon retired 15 years ago at the age of 53, he was looking forward to trying something new so first turned his hand to making furniture then three years ago started to write a novel.

Little did Verdon realize that his debut book, a thriller called "Think of a Number," would receive rave reviews and be translated into 19 languages with $1 million of advance sales before its official release this month.

Verdon, now 68, wrote "Think of a Number" after he and his wife packed up their lives in New York City and moved to rural upstate New York -- rather like his novel's protagonist, retired NYPD homicide investigator Dave Gurney.

Gurney and his wife are starting out on a new life when letters start arriving to people in the mail that end with a simple declaration: "Think of any number ... picture it ... now see how well I know your secret."

Those who comply find the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly and the letters quickly ignite a massive serial murder investigation.

Verdon spoke to Reuters about his life's sea-change:

Q: You've certainly kept busy since retiring?

A: "For me the idea of retirement and stopping work never had much appeal but I saw it as a chance to do something completely different. I had never really done anything with my hands before and I wanted to do something completely different so I made furniture for a number of years but after 10 years of doing that I decided to try something else. I had always had this desire to write a novel in the back of my head."   Continued...