As you plan your Amazon Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping (see the deals in the US here, in Canada here, in the UK here), don’t forget to add a few polar bear books to your order to give as gifts to relatives, friends, and local libraries. Although price cuts don’t appear to extend to my books, there are other good book offers and free shipping deals, and I’ve designed a special bonus offer to brighten your gift package.
Special bonus: I’ve made two polar bear bookmarks and a postcard-sized personal note signed by me to include with your gift. Find the bookmark for kids here and one for adults here (both three per page), and the person note here (four per page) as downloadable pdfs to print out on heavy photo paper or card stock.
My thriller (EATEN: A novel) couldn’t be more relevant this year: remember that while 2016 had the second lowest coverage of summer sea ice since 1979, the East Coast of Canada had much thicker spring ice than average this year. As a result, Newfoundland and Labrador in particular experienced heavy ice conditions and were inundated with polar bears.
And as described in my novel under similar circumstances, Newfoundland in 2017 had the most sightings ever recorded and was a wakup call that polar bears really could become the kind of wildlife problem that EATEN describes. This food-for-thought thriller is a great gift for teenagers and adults alike.
Don’t forget the science! Polar bear science got a recent boost with my books for kids and adults that relays facts without fearmongering. Expand the minds of those around you and give them something to think about. Both are perfect library donations.
There’s even a preschooler picture book version (Polar Bears Have Big Feet) so they don’t feel left out if older siblings or parents have their age-appropriate books (Polar Bear Facts & Myths for ages 7 and up — the first ever for this age group, which is also available in French and German — and Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change for adults and teens).
Would EATEN make a good movie? What do other scary predator attack films tell us (if anything) about the probability of EATEN becoming a successful motion picture?
In June 1975 (one year after the book was published), JAWS the movie became a huge box office hit. Fast forward to June 2016, when another shark-attack film called THE SHALLOWS was released (now considered a “sleeper success.”)
Compare the posters for these two films below:
Hmmm….menacing teeth vs. half-naked blonde. Is this natural evolution acting on 40-odd years of marketing styles or a reflection of the fact that THE SHALLOWS is more survivor thriller than pure predator attack film? I’m thinking a bit of both but more of the latter. I happen to think the parallels between these two shark attack films and the EATEN story line are stronger than for other predators-gone-bad thrillers, even grizzly attack movies. Perhaps it’s the premise of people living and having fun within shouting distance of the beach, which becomes such a fine, dangerous line of interface with these predators.
Other films of this genre that had varying levels of box office success include Alfred Hitchcock’s classic THE BIRDS (1963) and Stephen King’s CUJO (1983), two serious crocodile thrillers from 2007 (ROGUE and BLACKWATER), a survival thriller involving a pack of wolves called THE GREY , and two bear attack thrillers, BACKCOUNTRY (2014) and THE EDGE (1997) – see descriptions and some original trailers here.
Less successful offerings depend on mutant or otherwise farfetched versions of real predators, which suggest that making attacking animals larger-and-more-ferocious-than-life backfires at the box office, like the two below: Continue Reading »
I watched an episode of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week last Friday and I have to admit, it gave me a terrifying déjà vu moment.
Specifically, it was the episode called “Shark Bait” (1 July 2016) – about the potentially explosive problem of booming populations of grey seals around Cape Cod (NE US, Massachusetts), the increasing numbers of great white sharks that are moving in to hunt them (see trailers here and here), and the thousands of relatively blasé humans that play and surf in the shallows nearby. UPDATE: entire episode now on Youtube, see below:
What could possibly go wrong?
I’ve already imagined what could go wrong – just read my polar bear attack thriller, EATEN. The parallels of EATEN with this developing shark situation are more than a little unnerving and makes it clear that my piece of speculative fiction may apply to more than polar bears.
See the details on the great white shark/seal conundrum below and decide for yourself.
Today I’d like to highlight a wonderfully unbiased review of my novel written by a prominent Canadian polar bear researcher who is utterly convinced that future sea ice loss is the biggest threat to the species (and a former student of the grand-daddy of all polar bear researchers, Ian Stirling).
Here is what polar bear-human interaction specialist Douglas Clark had to say about my novel in his Amazon review (note I did not send Doug a review copy because he did not request one – he bought it himself – so I had no idea this was coming):
This is the usual time for polar bear visits to northern Newfoundland but this one had a sad ending. The bear that came ashore at Deep Cove (where some of the action in EATEN takes place, near the artist studio pictured in the CTV report shown above) on Fogo Island (map below) had to be shot by RCMP due to fears for public safety.
Maps and quotes from the CTV report below: Continue reading
This post has been reblogged from PolarBearScience.
Incidents of polar bears causing problems onshore this winter (January & February) – including one that killed a horse in Greenland and another that threatened a resident in western Hudson Bay (only weeks after several incidents in southern Labrador) may be the tip of a very scary iceberg. I’ve taken a look at what records exist of this phenomenon, which in the past often involved deadly attacks. The large number of reports this winter appears to be a real increase, which is a rather terrifying prospect indeed.
In winter, all polar bears except females in dens nursing newborn cubs are presumed by biologists to be on the sea ice hunting but it turns out that is not quite true. Although relatively rare over the last twenty years or so, it appears that in some areas, bears are now coming ashore in winter.
The photo above shows a polar bear photographed by a remote camera installed at Broad River Camp, Wapusk National Park, western Hudson Bay on 7 February 2013. It was visible to the camera for 40 minutes but apparently caused no trouble (camera installed and maintained by associate professor Doug Clark from the University of Saskatchewan and colleagues).
Given the fact that there are now many more polar bears than there were in the 1970s as well as more people living in many coastal Arctic communities, problems with bears in winter are likely to increase, as this winter’s events show. More bears out on the ice in winter (January-March) will almost certainly create more competition for the little bit of food that’s available (seals are hard to catch in winter), which means some bears might increasingly be looking for alternate sources of food onshore.
This post has been reblogged from PolarBearScience.
The harp seal is the most abundant seal species in the northern hemisphere (estimated to number more than 9 million animals – that’s more harps than ringed seals) but are found only in the North Atlantic. Partly because they give birth on mobile pack ice, harps have their pups earlier in the season than all other Arctic seals, which means that in some regions, they are a critical food source for polar bears that have eaten little over the winter months.
Although young ringed seals are considered the primary prey of polar bears throughout the Arctic, young harp seals undoubtedly represent an increasingly important resource for populations of Davis Strait, East Greenland and Kara Sea bears.
Most of the harp seals in the NW Atlantic/Atlantic Canada (about 80% of them) have their pups off Newfoundland and Labrador, an area known as the “Front” (the location of my polar bear attack novel, EATEN). Harps seals at the Front now provide a huge prey base for polar bears of the large (and possibly still growing) Davis Strait subpopulation (photo below courtesy DFO Canada).
There are an estimated 7.4 million harps in Atlantic Canada today (range 6.5-8.3m), an exponential increase over the early 1980s, when perhaps only half a million so remained. Pagophilus groenlandicus was assigned a conservation status of ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN Red List in June last year (Kovacs 2015), when it was estimated that the global population size of the harp seal was greater than 9 million animals and probably growing1, 2 due to reduced human hunting:
“…harp seals have been harvested for thousands of years but currently the population is large and the number of animals harvested is declining.” [my bold]
Photographers and animial rights activists love cute, fluffy harp seal pups and rarely mention the carnage that goes on in spring as polar bears devour the naive youngsters. See the video below (from 2008), for an example of the cuteness factor.