Wolf Summer!

After 199 years, the wolf has returned to Denmark. Big wolves, similar in size to Timber Wolves, cross the border from Germany. The first was spotted back in 2012, which was interesting, as I was living way north – practically in white wolf country – in Qaanaaq, at the top of Greenland. I did live in polar bear country, and bought a shotgun at the supermarket – as you do – at the suggestion of a local hunter. The area around Qaanaaq is a denning area for bears. But, despite bears coming in the night, I didn’t see one, and no wolves in the two years I lived there. But, wolves were in Denmark, and it made the move back a little more palatable.

The Danish nature was/is rewilding.

But wolves have a habit of stirring up trouble, regardless of statistics, and that got me wondering. The idea of Paint the Devil was born, and as the debate really kicked off earlier this year, the book started to write itself.

There are always two sides to a story, but Paint the Devil has a third – the story of the wolves, something the main character: wildlife biologist Jon Østergård has to take into consideration as he navigates through the heated debates and opinions dividing the community of Thyrup, a small (fictive) village on Denmark’s west coast.

So, without further ado, here’s the blurb, the links, and the cover for Paint the Devil, available for pre-order and scheduled for release in October.

As the wolf debate heats up during Denmark’s hottest and driest summer on record, wildlife biologist Jon Østergård and his teenage daughter relocate to the West Jutland village of Thyrup, to study problem wolves in a community divided by fear, belief, opinions and violence.

Jon quickly discovers that his experience of wolves in Greenland means nothing in a farming community fighting to have their voice heard in an increasingly divisive national debate.

Pressed by politicians demanding an objective report on one side, and locals on the other, Jon risks losing his way as the debate turns ugly, and his daughter is drawn into a family convinced that extreme action is necessary to protect their livelihood. 

Sporadic wildfires flare up in the surrounding countryside, and the flames force a small pack of wolves closer and closer to the village.

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Of bears, wolves, and men

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“I want the facts as they are fresh, so that I can compare them with the British version of events.”
“Burwardsley,” Fenna said. She struggled to stop her bottom lip from curling. “Who is he anyway?”
“We’ll get to that,” he said and picked up his notebook. He turned to a fresh page and nodded for Fenna to continue. “The wolf then. If we must.”

The men in The Ice Star are predators, at least some of them, the ones chasing Fenna across the ice. But the real wolves of Greenland, the Arctic wolf, conjure images of strength and resilience, character attributes that Fenna will need to survive and complete her mission.

I never saw a wolf during my time in Greenland, not even when we lived as far north as Qaanaaq. But I clearly remember the time when a polar bear came into town and starting making trouble. It had been seen at the graveyard, and again at the dump. On both occasions it was looking for food. My wife, Jane, told me about the sighting late one night.

I leaped out of bed and started pulling on clothes, grabbing my camera on the way out of the bedroom.

“Stop,” she said.

“What?”

“It was yesterday.”

Right there… grounds for divorce! Clearly, we had a very different appreciation of what was newsworthy, and when.

We’re still married, and, funnily enough, living in Denmark, we now have a greater chance of seeing a wolf than we did in Greenland. they cross the border from Germany – our new backyard.

The Ice Star is available for pre-order from Amazon at a reduced price. Spoiler(ish) alert – bears and wolves feature in the story.

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