Alaskan writer William Arthur Hanson, aka Bill Hanson, fell in love with Alaska as a 12-year-old while reading Outdoor Life magazines in his bedroom in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He dreamed of homesteading, as his grandfather, Billy Hanson, had in Wyoming in 1903. He dreamed of hunting moose and living off the land.
After completing a Master of Forest Science (wildlife biology) at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 1977, he finagled his girlfriend and fellow graduate, Kate Troll, into accepting seasonal range technician jobs with him for the Bureau of Land Management in New Mexico. Near the end of a hot summer using their Masters Degrees to count cattle and check water troughs, he surprised Kate by receiving an offer for a job he hadn’t applied for in Alaska. Their decision to get married, buy a new pickup (Datsun wimp), and move to Alaska was clinched by a gas station attendant in Pie Town, NM, who took one look at the government pickup they used for work and said, “I see you got yourself a new pickup and a new wife” at the same moment that Johnny Horton’s “Goin’ to Alaska” rang out of the truck radio.
39 years later, Bill hasn’t shot a moose, hasn’t homesteaded, and lives very happily with Kate in suburban Douglas, Alaska also known by uninformed people as Juneau. Kate Troll is also an Alaskan writer and columnist. Bill has explored Alaska’s wild country, hunted Dall sheep on the north slope of the Brooks Range, mapped habitats along the Unalakleet River upstream of the Bering Sea, and kayaked the fjords of Southeast Alaska.
Alaskan Novelist and Blogger
Although his career included extensive writing and editing of business and government literature, Bill’s secret loves have always been fiction and creative nonfiction. Since retiring in 2015, he has completed a novel, Illusions of Memory, and is now developing his latest novel, Spinning Heart. He is the keeper of the Alaska Billy Blog, which unites his desires to produce immediately readable work, interact with other writers and interested readers, and conduct research for his novels in an entertaining way.
Bill draws from his professional knowledge of ecosystems, fish and wildlife habitats and land management policy to bring the natural world alive for the everyday reader with a commitment to scientific accuracy.
Exploring Alaska’s landscapes brings the joy of discovery and the humility of learning one’s standing on Earth.
This freedom carries the responsibility to protect the natural world, and to become a competent woodsman and mariner so as not to put others at risk unnecessarily. In turn, our connections to wild landscapes, sustenance from the land, and the dependence on natural resources shape our view of the world as surely as saltwater shapes the shore and the shore shapes the sea.
Bill loves to spend days with friends in the woods and on the saltwater. He also treasures solitude, time spent in personal communion with the natural world.
Bill’s Alaskan experience travels with him as he seeks inspiration in diverse landscapes and cultures. He has spent time in Vietnam, Russia, Mexico, Ecuador, Europe, Malaysia, and throughout the United States.
Work in The Last Frontier
Bill served his entire career in Alaska as a supervisory biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and for Alaska Department of Fish and Game, a forester for the Alaska Division of Forestry, and a fire effects specialist for the Bureau of Land Management. In another work life, he was a facility/operations manager for seafood companies that produced both traditional products, and also new high-end foods from fish previously considered “bait” or waste.