WARNING: Spoilers spoken here. 4 – Ivory Otter The votes are in, and the object from the forth Kate Shugak novel, A Cold-Blooded Business, is the little ivory otter (although I was tempted to make it the turtle). Kate bought her otter at Alaska Native Arts & Crafts, which was a real store at the Sunshine Mall on Fourth Avenue in Anchorage. The store is no longer there, alas, but the proprietor, Pauline, was a lovely woman from Southeast who always wore a frog pin as she was a member of the Tlingit Frog Clan. I liked visiting with her so much that I put her in the book.
Wilson Oozeva, who carved Kate’s otter, was a real Alaska Native artist from Gambell. You can see more of his work here. There are a lot of amazingly talented carvers but he was one of the best.
…an ivory otter caught her eye. Up on his hind legs in the midst of a menagerie sculpted from soapstone, antler, jade and wood, tiny paws held just so, thick tail disposed in a graceful curve, whiskers immaculately groomed, he stood just three inches high, black eyes bright with curiosity, every detail faithfully and exquisitely rendered. He was irresistible.
This as you can see from the description in the quotation above, is not Kate’s otter, but he is the inspiration for him and, like Kate’s otter, he was carved by Wilson Oozeva. He lives with my friends Bob and Mary. I house-sat for them when they went Outside for three weeks, and this otter sat on the desk next to me as I worked on A Cold-Blooded Business. We totally bonded, and his spiritual child wound up in Kate’s pocket.
Here’s the otter who does live with me, a gift from my friends Kathy and Kevin. He doesn’t fit in my pocket.