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History textbooks are full of names and stories – most of them male – but women were not bystanders in the building of our communities.
Polar bear attacks strike Cartwright, parts of island, in new fictional novel
In November, professional zoologist Susan Crockford released her first novel Eaten.
A new book from Victoria, B.C. writer Susan Crockford offers a terrifying look into the future, where violent polar bears encroach upon unsuspecting Newfoundland and Labrador citizens.
Crockford describes it as something comparable to the 1975 film Jaws.
Set in 2025, numerous communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador are under siege from polar bear attacks. Of much interest is that many of the communities are in the Northern Peninsula. Included are: St. Anthony, Goose Cove, L’Anse aux Meadows, Main Brook, Conche, Croque, French Shore Trail, Graois Island, and Cartwright in Labrador. Most prominently featured are St. Anthony and Goose Cove.
When writing her story, the professional zoologist considered where mass polar bears attacks would likely geographically take place if such a thing were possible.
She said the biology of the bears, the movement of the sea ice, and the availability of food, all determined why she chose Newfoundland and Labrador.
“That looked like the most plausible location for that to take place,” said Crockford.
She then did research into the province where her novel would be set.
“I wouldn’t say I put in extraordinary time into researching Newfoundland particularly, but more in relation to ‘what is the landscape like in some of these different locations,’ in relation to what the sea ice would be like at certain times of year and where bears and seals might be,” she explained.
In the course of her research, it surprised her to see the variation in landscape throughout the province.
“Sort of more woodland in the western area and I would almost describe it as more tundra like towards the northeastern island areas, in the sense of there being more bare rock” she said.
Crockford has gotten feedback from readers, saying it would make a good thriller, like Jaws. And she believes a lot of her readership would love to be able to visually see the Newfoundland and Labrador landscape within such a film.
“It’s a new location for a lot of readers that they may have heard about but they don’t necessarily know much of anything about it,” she explained.
In terms of cultural influence on the story, Crockford saw Newfoundland and Labrador as a place currently undergoing a shift from focusing on sealing and fishing to art and tourism. She took the idea that this shift might actually continue during the next 10 years.
“So thinking more along the lines of fewer people having guns than they might have, say, 20 years ago,” she explained. “And it has to do with the whole scenario happening to a population of people who really were less prepared to protect themselves, both in the sense of fewer people having guns but also some of the measures that people living in the high Arctic take as a matter of course.”
Also touched upon, she said, is the history of the province. Crockford explains that as Newfoundland and Labrador was one of the first British colonies settled, there’s a really long tradition of settlement in the area and, therefore, produced very unique communities within this interesting landscape.
Crockford has not yet been able to visit Newfoundland and Labrador. Writing from afar, she believes you don’t get emotionally involved in places and therefore it brings a different tone to the novel.
And she hopes to visit because she doesn’t believe she’s finished writing about the province.
“I’m basically a science writer, so writing my first novel was kind of challenging,” she said. “But it wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be and I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.”
Crockford knew the premise of the book would grab people’s attention. She said if something like this were to actually happen, it is something that would attract tremendous media attention. But, as a zoologist, she was also thinking of a way in which she could incorporate science about polar bears into a book that someone who might never pick up a science book would enjoy reading.
“The whole development of the story is really dependent on the science,” she said.
Readers can check her book website www.susancrockford.com for notification of giveaway deals for free copies of the book.
Paperback and electronic versions of the book are available online on Amazon.ca and Barnes and Noble. Electronic versions are also available on iTunes and Kobo bookstore. Crockford has recently reached out to Grenfell Handicrafts in St. Anthony, as well, where she is hoping the book will be available for purchase.
“I hope [Newfoundlanders and Labradorians] really enjoy it,” said Crockford. “My intention was for it to be a fun book for them to read, to see their own landscape represented.”
In this tale, the occupants of 100s of small towns and isolated outports spread across northern Newfoundland are quite unprepared for an early spring onslaught of hungry polar bears. People haven’t just been killed, they’ve been eaten. As the attacks multiply, people find they are not safe even in their own homes.
Local residents, Mounties, and biologists struggle with a disturbing new reality: they have a huge polar bear problem on their hands, and if they don’t find a solution quickly, dozens more people will die gruesome deaths, and hundreds more polar bears will be shot.
A Newfoundland seal biologist gets help from an expat Alaskan carnivore specialist as they team up with officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to address the threat. Stopping the carnage and the relentless terror will be the biggest challenge they’ve ever faced as they struggle to prevent this from being the most horrifying disaster in Newfoundland’s history.