Alice Henderson’s love of the wilderness brought her into the career of wildlife researcher. It’s also the impetus for her new thriller series which starts with A Solitude of Wolverines.Other writing credits include media-tie in novels, including official novels for the TV shows Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Interview by Elise Cooper
Q. Where did you get your idea for the story?
Alice: For each book in the series, I chose to pick a species in dire straits. Polar Bears have become the face of climate change. Before the lockdown I spent some time in the Canadian Arctic. I was enchanted by it and inspired to set a story here. I hope readers are also enchanted with these animals I write about and get actively involved.
Q. Are we talking wolverines like the Marvel Superhero?
Alice: No. LOL. I have heard from readers they did not know Wolverines were real animals. They are members of the weasel family. Now in the US there are only 300 left. They have been trapped and hunted into extinction. They are hardy creatures that can power straight up a mountain. In the winter they help other animals find food because of their powerful jaws. They eat anything including teeth. I call them “cleaners of the forest.”
Q. Professionally, do you work with animals?
Alice: I am a wildlife researcher and do wildlife surveys to determine what species are present on lands set aside for conservation. I try to come up with ways to improve habitat and design wildlife corridors to record audio. Some of the animals I surveyed are spotted owls, wolverines, and jaguars. I got the idea for the wolverine story while in Montana setting up remote cameras.
Q. How would describe Alex?
Alice: Passionate, resourceful, driven, a fighter, and a handyperson. She can think herself out of situations. She is a loner. Because she helps wildlife, she goes to very remote places where she has little human contact.
Q. Did you become interested in polar bears after watching the Coke commercials?
Alice: I always have been fascinated with them and all wildlife ever since I was little. I read every book I could get my hands on and volunteered at the local rescue wildlife rehabilitation center. It fascinated me how the Polar Bears live out on the ice. My very first stuffed animal was a Polar Bear that I named Poly. I still have Poly. My parents took my sister and myself on these epic camping trips along the western US and Canada.
Q. Where did your interest in Vikings in North America come from?
Alice: I wanted to work shipwrecks into the story. I was fascinated how far west the Vikings did go. It seems likely to me that their adventurous spirit took them farther west. I thought that Hudson Bay would be how the Vikings accessed Minnesota. I worked that in this story.
Q. How would you describe Sasha?
Alice: She is quite a bit different than Alex except for her adventurous spirit. She is not in the next book. She is curious and dedicated her life to marine archeology.
Q. Tell us about the role of the Arctic?
Alice: It is changing so fast and heating up three times faster than the rest of the planet. I wanted to show what Polar Bears are experiencing. It is represented on what can happen across the US.
Q. What’s next?
Alice: It is about Mountain Caribou that live only in small herds. They are called the “Gray Ghosts of the Forest.” I titled it A Ghost of Caribou coming out this time next year. They live off lichen that lives in trees, a combination of algae and moss. They went extinct in the lower 48 in 2019. Alex is asked to confirm a possible Mountain Caribou sighting in Washington State. There will be all kinds of drama including a murdered ranger found hung.
Review by Elise Cooper
A Blizzard of Polar Bears by Alice Henderson delves into conservation efforts and animals on the brink of extinction. This plot combines nature, environmental problems, a riveting mystery, and strong characters.
The story opens with a sub-plot. Rex Tildesen, a marine archaeologist, is trying to prove that the Vikings had made it to the Hudson Bay. Spotting a shipwreck, Rex dives down, despite his partner not being on board the boat. It’ll be the last his partner, Sasha, hears from him since he was brutally murdered.
The main plot has wildlife biologist Alex Carter finishing her study of Wolverines in Montana. She has agreed to travel to the Canadian Arctic to study the threatened population of Polar Bears. But things go awry. Her helicopter pilot quits unexpectedly, equipment goes missing, and a late-night intruder breaks into her lab, stealing the samples she’s collected. After hiring a new pilot their helicopter catches fire in midflight, and after they landed armed assailants try to shoot them. Between the theft, poaching, and murder Alex realizes someone is trying to deter her from completing the study.
Alex is a strong character who is independent, knowledgeable, determined, and an animal lover.
This thriller is fast-paced and the added tidbit about the Polar Bears makes for an interesting story. Anyone who wants more information on wildlife animals should read these books.
Alice Henderson's Latest
A Blizzard of Polar Bears
Fresh off her wolverine study in Montana, wildlife biologist Alex Carter lands a job studying a threatened population of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic. Embedded with a small team of Arctic researchers, she tracks the majestic bears by air, following them over vast, snowy terrain, spending days leaning precariously out of a helicopter with a tranquilizer gun, until she can get down on the ice to examine them up close.
But as her study progresses, and she gathers data on the health of individual bears, things start to go awry. Her helicopter pilot quits unexpectedly, equipment goes missing, and a late-night intruder breaks into her lab and steals the samples she’s collected. She realizes that someone doesn’t want her to complete her study, but Alex is not easily deterred.
Managing to find a replacement pilot, she returns to the icy expanses of Hudson Bay. But the helicopter catches fire in midflight, forcing the team to land on a vast sheet of white far from civilization. Surviving on the frozen landscape is difficult enough, but as armed assailants close in on snowmobiles, Alex must rely on her skills and tenacity to survive this onslaught and carry out her mission.th.
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