Someone asked me how I came up with the idea for my first full length Novel, Polar Bear Dawn. It was easy I said. I had a fear of being eaten by Polar Bears.
I visited Alaska’s Arctic from 1995 until 2009, and in that time I flew to the far north of the Arctic Ocean some 15 times. My trips were always in the dead of winter. And I mean a winter that looked like death could creep up on you.
I’d get off the plane and it would be minus 45F with a 20 mile an hour wind chill. They talk about frost bite up there – well this stuff felt like teeth marks on your skin.
The Arctic is flat. No trees. The sky is a leaden grey in the winter for the few hours the sun almost comes up, and for a few months, the sun doesn’t show at all. Total darkness.
In all of this, the Polar Bear roams. This magnificent animal has adapted to the presence of man. He’s figured out that he can hide out under stairs – because all the buildings are raised off the ground – he has a natural hiding place. A natural hunting place. His prey is humans.
The oil camps I visited on my sales calls had Polar Bear alerts on their TV Screens. Just like you’d see a warning of a shark off a beach, you’d get the warning of the Polar Bear lurking around the camp. He could be anywhere in the dark Arctic night. This was his domain, not ours.
There were signs posted at doors to the outside LOOK UNDER THS STEPS BEFORE GOING DOWN THE STARIS!!! Sometimes a person would draw big teeth to get the message across.
You see, a Polar Bear was accustomed to waiting by a seal hole for hours or days for seal to surface. Waiting under stairs for a human wasn’t much trouble for them at all. If the reward was warm meat. Sorry if that sounds crass – but the conditions are harsh, and we are in their territory. To a Polar Bear, it’s not personal, it’s just survival.
So, after all these trips up to the Arctic, I had this vision one cold Arctic night. A body lying at the base of the stairs, with a Polar Bear feasting on it.
A scene that looks like an accident. An accident of a human having an unfortunate meeting with a Polar Bear. But then I thought – what if the Polar bear didn’t do it. What if this was a murder?
And that was how I came upon the start of my first Novel. If you get a chance to read it, I would love to hear you comments. You’ll find the book POLAR BEAR DAWN on Amazon, Kindle and KOBO.