PERSONAL: Born in Chicago, IL; married; children: two. Education: University of Utah, B.S. (biology); University of Illinois, graduate study in veterinary medicine; Gonzaga University Law School, J.D.
CAREER: Attorney in entertainment and biotech industries, Seattle, WA. North Idaho College, adjunct instructor.
After the Dance, Peanut Butte Pub. (Seattle, WA), 1994.
Edgewater, Forge (New York, NY), 1998.
The Protocol, Forge (New York, NY), 1999.
Clinical Trial, Forge (New York, NY), 2000.
Patent to Kill, Forge (New York, NY, 2003.
Buffalo Medicine, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.
Also author of unproduced screenplay Alpha Female.
SIDELIGHTS: April Christofferson blends insider knowledge gained from her former career as an attorney representing biotech companies together with university studies in biology and veterinary medicine to come up with medical thrillers that have been compared to the work of popular novelists Michael Crichton and Robin Cook. "My stories reflect the things I both cherish and despise," Christofferson wrote on her Web site. "On the 'cherish' side: the fabulous wild places remaining on this earth, human kindness and courage, our capacity for love, all the earth's creatures, and a rapidly advancing bi-technology that has the capability to improve, prolong and save lives." Christofferson also went on to list the things she despises: "corporate greed; that same bio-technology which, unchecked, has the capability of wreaking unequaled devastation; people who disregard the consequences of their actions to others, and to the earth." These are the themes Christofferson has woven into a handful of novels, including The Protocol, Clinical Trial, Patent to Kill, and the 2004 novel Buffalo Medicine.
After the Dance and Edgewater deal with the movie industry and the real estate industry respectively. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly felt that Edgewater, although billed as a thriller, is "in fact a romance." For this same contributor, the love interest between the two main characters takes center stage ahead of the mystery plot: "Romance readers may appreciate this," the reviewer wrote, "but the average thriller fan won't."
More successful was Christofferson's first medical thriller, The Protocol. Inspired by the first news of the cloning of the sheep Dolly, this debut medical thriller deals with the real possibility that biotech laboratories might pursue human cloning despite international prohibitions. In this case, BioGentech is a Seattle-based bio-engineering firm that Jennifer Rockhill blames for her husband's death. A lawyer, Jennifer begins to search for clues and comes up with a secret lab run by the dastardly Dr. Sherwood Fielding. Meanwhile, ex-CIA agent Matthew Place, now a corporate spy, also discovers Fielding's secret genetic experiments, and Place and Jennifer go from being guarded rivals to lovers as they battle the corporate powers. A contributor for Publishers Weekly praised Christofferson's "complex and fallible characters" in what the critic called a "expertly paced and tautly woven" thriller. Similarly, Linda M. G. Katz, writing in Library Journal, called the work "fast-paced, suspenseful, and frightening," while William Beatty and Gilbert Taylor, reviewing The Protocol in Booklist, wrote that Christofferson presents "one of the most despicable characters in recent medical thrillers" in the character Fielding.
Christofferson moves her action from Seattle to the Blackfoot Reservation of Montana for Clinical Trial, a novel that explores the dangers in the lucrative clinical trial business. Featuring Dr. Isabel McLain, who leaves her Seattle practice to work on the reservation, the book posits a virus that is killing Blackfoot tribal members. When an Oregon-based biotech company wants to try out its vaccine, McLain wonders if they are not actually using the Native Americans as pawns in their medical experimentation. A critic for Publishers Weekly lauded the "fine cast of heroes and villains" in what it dubbed a "well-constructed" thriller, while Katz in Library Journal found Clinical Trial a "deftly woven thriller" that is both "substantial and intriguing." Beatty, reviewing the same novel for Booklist, commented that Christofferson "develops her yarn intriguingly and her characters believably, producing another gripper."
With Patent to Kill, Christofferson takes on biopiracy, with biotech companies raiding the genetics of the Amazon for new drugs. Jake Scully is caught in a personal dilemma: on the one hand he wants to restore his son's eyesight, lost by a genetic imperfection, and on the other hand he feels he must protect the Amazonian tribe his biotech employers want to exploit for this same gene therapy. Romance comes Jake's way in the form of an activist out to protect the tribe from biopiracy in this "fascinating medical thriller," as Harriet Klausner described Patent to Kill in AllReaders.com. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly was not so positive, however, finding the novel be an "overwrought thriller" containing "cloying heroes."
Christofferson's 2004 title, Buffalo Medicine, focuses on another medical and environmental hot topic: brucellosis. Able to devastate a cattle herd, brucellosis is thought to be transmitted by bison. The cattle industry uses this argument to slaughter wild bison that make their way out of Yellowstone National Park, but as Christofferson maintained on her Web site, "the brucellosis fear is a myth." "It's never happened," she explained. "After decades and decades of cattle and bison intermingling, there's never been a single documented case of transmission between the species. It's almost a scientific impossibility." Christofferson uses this little-known fact to create a story around ranch veterinarian Jed MacCane, who is working on a vaccine for brucellosis. His potential cure, however is not welcomed by all, especially local ranchers—including Jed's fiancée—who see park species such as bison and wolves as a natural threat to their existence. Kliatt contributor Claire Rosser found Buffalo Medicine "frightening and believable."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 1999, William Beatty and Gilbert Taylor, review of The Protocol, p. 342; November 1, 2000, William Beatty, review of Clinical Trial, p. 518.
Drood Review of Mystery, July, 2000, review of TheProtocol and Clinical Trial, p. 15.
Kliatt, November, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of Buffalo Medicine, p. 15.
Library Journal, October 1, 1999, Linda M. G. Katz, review of The Protocol, p. 132; October 1, 2000, Linda M. G. Katz, review of Clinical Trial, p. 146.
Publishers Weekly, February 16, 1998, review of Edgewater, p. 208; September 13, 1999, review of The Protocol, p. 62; September 18, 2000, review of Clinical Trial, p. 88; July 28, 2003, review of Patent to Kill, p. 80.
AllReaders.com,http://www.allreaders.com/ (December 10, 2004), Harriet Klausner, review of Patent to Kill.
Fantastic Fiction Web site,http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (December 10, 2004), "April Christofferson."
Offıcial April Christofferson Web site,http://www.aprilchristofferson.com (December 10, 2004).*