From my Padded Cell…

I built it with my own hands, and now I’m gonna sweat inside it – standing room only – for hours and hours at a time.

Was this really a good idea?

No swinging of cats or swinging of any kind.

Last autumn I decided to look into turning my novels and stories into audiobooks. I began the process of requesting auditions and received a couple of great audio samples for Seven Graves, One Winter. Three things made me rethink the whole project.

The first thing was Greenlandic, more specifically the Greenlandic words I have used in the book(s). While my own grasp of Greenlandic is limited, I do have some experience, and at least know how I want to try and say the words I have used. My concern, is, was and will be, whether a non-native speaker is going to get their tongues around Greenlandic words and place names like Ittoqqortoormiit.

This got me thinking.

The second factor was cost, closely followed by the third factor (below). I simply don’t have the funds available to invest in audiobook production. Without a publisher footing the bill, I need to find ways of getting my books out there in as many formats as possible within a tight budget. The projected budget for Seven Graves, One Winter was prohibitive – not impossible, but it left no wiggle room.

Added to concerns about wiggling… yes, I know… there is the simple fact that I have been quite productive. Meaning I have a lot of novels, novellas and short stories under the name of Christoffer Petersen, many of them in series. If the cost of one audiobook production was prohibitive… well, have a quick look at the photo below, and you’ll see what I mean.

Twenty works, and counting (not including omnibus editions).

These things got me thinking a little more.

What if?

What if I recorded the books? What would that take and what would I need? And, more importantly, how much would it cost?

Without giving anything away, and not thinking of my “time” used now or during recording and editing, I can say that buying the equipment to record, and the materials needed to build my padded cell, ahem… “sound booth”, I spent about a quarter of what I would have spent to have someone else record Seven Graves, One Winter.

This gets better when I consider the twenty written “works” I want to turn into audiobooks.

So, today I got as far as installing the USB audio interface, the mic, the shock mount for the mic, the arm for the shock mount… yeah, a few new things. Then there’s software, and, well, it’s a good thing the cell is padded.

The result is a quick test for audio clarity, and you can hear that here. (About a year ago I made this recording with no booth and a crappy mic. So, yes, I am pleased with the investment… that acting though!)

Now I just need to learn how to act inside my sound booth. Considering that it’s not possible to swing an ant let alone a cat, the acting is going to be interesting.

There’s still a few holes to block, and a learning curve like no other to master, but, until then, stay tuned, this might just become something…

Research is Murder!

A murder… right here, in the middle of it all!

In April last year I spent a few bizarre hours discussing how to get rid of bodies in the local concert hall. The local concert hall is nothing less than Sønderborg’s Alsion, a very modern Danish building that shares facilities with the University of Southern Denmark. There’s a lot of glass, wood, and really long drops from the very top of the building, straight down to the actual concert hall.

Partners and co-conspirators!

Søren the Stage Manager and Stine from the Press and Communication office generously gave me time to explore all of Alsion’s darkest and deepest corners. Several times during the tour, I made them both show me that their mobiles were switched off… I mean, the things we were discussing… criminal, I tell you!

Lots of strange places to hide bodies – right at your feet!

The purpose of the tour was to give me an idea of just how one could get away with murder in one of Sønderborg’s most famous attractions. I say get away with it, but I’m not so sure about that. You see, I’ve put Detective Freja Hansen on the case.

I needed to get to know Freja before I could write the Sønderborg book, so I sent her on a run through the Highlands of Scotland – she was born in Scotland. Of course, fell running is tough at the best of times, but with a killer hidden among the runners, well… it got out of hand quite quickly.

The novella: Fell Runner, allowed me to get to know Freja, which is good, because she’s needed now, as there has been a murder in the concert hall.

I won’t give you all the details, but I will share a teaser of the cover. The building on the front is Alsion.

Blackout Ingénue – book 2 in the Detective Freja Hansen series.

Blackout Ingénue is scheduled for release on June 9th, and you can pre-order it for not a lot of money from Amazon US, UK, Canada and Australia. It will go up in price once the pre-order period is over.

That’s it for now.

Overhaulin’

Website needed a fix, and I am currently fixin’.

Talisman -coming soon

Not entirely sure how long this is going to take, but until then, here’s a “cover reveal” for the free Maratse “origins” short story: Talisman. It will be available free via sign up for the newsletter – all part of the overhaul, and available on paperback.

Talisman is set on Greenland’s east coast, and tells the story of how, when and perhaps even why Maratse joined the Greenland Police. Oh, and a talisman is involved.

Interested readers might like to know that I discovered the “talisman” on the cover in a hunter’s cabin I visited during a month-long solo kayak expedition in Greenland.

I won’t forget that cabin in a hurry.

There’s a bigger version of the cover on the page for Maratse’s stories.

Lost in the Woods

I left wildlife biologist Jon Østergård and his daughter, Emma, in an ambulance close to Thyrup Church in Denmark, last summer, but the story is not finished.

The real Danish wolves might have disappeared over the Danish-German border, but there are plenty more in Alaska, which is where the majority of Lost in the Woods is set.

Where Paint the Devil explored the political and social fallout surrounding the return of the wolf to Denmark, Lost in the Woods ramps up the drama and action in the backwoods of Alaska’s interior, with much of the story taking place in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

There is even more at stake this time around, when wolves are not the only predators.

Lost in the Woods is available for a limited pre-order price of 0.99, from Amazon US, UK, Canada and Australia.

Narko Tika

Click on the image
to add “Narkotika”
to Goodreads

It’s a struggle sometimes, deciding what to write and when, and I often use my characters to guide me into the next project. But while the character of Constable David Maratse is quietly insistent about the book projects revolving around him, the main character of “Narkotika” is downright evasive.

The idea has been kicking around for a while, and then I met Simon Kernick in Iceland – great guy and fantastic author. A member of the Iceland Noir audience asked him if it was difficult keeping things realistic and in-keeping with real life police practices. He said that a policeman once told him there aren’t really any rules for undercover work, so he could make stuff up. I like making stuff up, just like I am paraphrasing what was said during the panel, but I took careful note of that little nugget from Simon.

So, in keeping with making stuff up, I am excited about my new character, Eko Simigaq, an undercover Greenlandic cop with a talent to blend in with seriously unpleasant folk. That probably says more about Eko than I want to reveal at the moment. Suffice it to say, he’s pretty tough.

I’ll be revealing a little more about Eko and the plot and settings for “Narkotika” soon, but in the meantime, I need to fiddle with some link buttons so readers can actually discover “Narkotika”. The book will be available across all platforms, including Amazon, from August 1, 2019. Until then, “Narkotika” is available for pre-order from:

The Pen Name Apocalypse

I’ve been threatening to reveal a pen name or two for a little while and Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect opportunity.

One year after I was in Alaska, I had sudden withdrawal symptoms, together with a heavy injection of apocalyptic “things”, like the lawn, stuff that needing fixing around the house, more grass and everything that had nothing to do with what I like to think of adventure. As I struggled with my new status as house owner – first time in forty-four years (pause to contemplate) – my thoughts drifted to the end of the world.

I wasn’t quite ready to embrace a pandemic – not personally, so I chose a pen name: Zoe McGuire.

A year or so later, and I’m a little jealous that Zoe gets to have so much fun writing about the end of the world, so I’m claiming the book!

I’ll continue to write the Apocalyptic Romance(ish) stories as Zoe, but I’m going to make sure that the print is on my fingers too!

You can try Zoe’s book (it’s mine!) at

Amazon US, UK, Canada and Australia

and on KOBO.

“Working Titles”

It’s snowing. Again. This is a good thing. In fact, we get so little of it that… well, that’s another post.

“The Girl”, a concept drawing for a children’s book – A Moonlight Climb

This post comes hot on the tails of a lot of “sustainability” talks I have had with myself, as in how to be creative, not get bogged down in any one series or type of novel, story, or genre. The talks themselves were “interesting”, with plenty of “am I talking to myself?” moments. The answer is “yes”, but I got a lot done, and plenty sorted out.

So, I have plenty of “working titles” in the works, across all genres. Sure, I’ll stick with Greenland Crime Thrillers, but I need to mix it up some more.

“Mother’s Plane”, a concept drawing for a children’s book – A Moonlight Climb

Which brings me to A Moonlight Climb. It’s a children’s story about a young girl in Alaska, waiting for her mother to fly home, through the mountains. It’s a cloudy, stormy night, and the girl strikes a bargain with the moon to shine the way for her mother.

“Through the Mountains”, a concept drawing for a children’s book – A Moonlight Climb

I usually write storybeats when structuring my novels and novellas. This time though, storyboards are the key to getting it finished. The idea has been put on hold several times, perhaps this spring will see it come to light? I’m sharing the initial outlines here as a reminder to myself that I need to be finished soon.

Of course, if any real illustrators happen to see this post, and feel “inspired” to get involved, please feel free to drop me a line.

As for my inspiration, yeah, that would be Alaska… again.

Fun Year Ahead!

I know, I know, it was 2016 when I was in Alaska, but hey, photos from Alaska make me seriously happy, so I’m just going to go with it… plans for 2020 are in development though, and Alaska, yeah, #gonnahappen!

So, last year was crazy. I quit my job in December 2017 and decided to “become” a full-time writer from January 1st, 2018. Several sleepless nights ensued as I tried to get my head around slashing my income by about 90% and staring a hungry mortgage right in the face! It was “fun” for the first quarter of 2018, but then things started to change, and people started to buy my books, and quite a lot of people liked them.

A golden moment, right there, and especially when one reader in particular compared my novellas to Jack London! Yes, right there, sold! And suddenly those pictures of the Yukon and Alaska are totally relevant. Phew!

My modest (read, practically nothing) income doubled within the first few months and quadrupled by the end of the year. Still modest, still low (poverty bracket in Denmark!) But damn, if it ain’t fun!

Other things happened in the course of the year, too.

I needed a book agent all of a sudden, because the bigger publishers still deal with agents. So, I found a very reputable agent in Copenhagen and went from Indie author to Hybrid almost overnight.

By the last quarter of the year I was on a high as Seven Graves, One Winter was picked up for translation in three territories. I went to Iceland Noir and met a whole bunch of amazing people – authors, publishers and not least readers!

Amazing, as in Yukon/Alaska amazing.

December too was a fantastic month for sales, best ever, and the word is getting out there, about my books, but also about Greenland, including how to help Greenlandic kids and students improve their lives, studies, and their future.

So, what’s next?

The short answer is plenty, and lots of it. But that makes no sense. What might make sense is the “going wide” approach to my books in 2019, i.e. finding other distributors, not just Amazon. I have no problems with Amazon, and I look forward to continuing to release books via the KDP platform, but I need to spread the love, as they say – some people do, I’m sure of it! Today is a bit of a landmark with the release of Piteraq on Kobo, available via Walmart and Kobo’s own store. More books will follow soon…

I have other plans and a whole lot of book projects to be written, not least Maratse 4, PolarPol 2, and even a Fenna 4 somewhere in the works. But short stories are on the way too, starting with Spirit Hunting (imagine more Jack London in Greenland!) A short story of about 25 minutes reading time. There will be more.

But 2019 involves plans for so much more.

Dare I say that audiobooks are in the works, and some gritty, longer books that are screaming to be written, then there’s other pen names to be revealed – still working on that one, trying to convince myself it is a good idea to reveal all!

That’s it for now though… too excited to type!

I hope everyone’s 2019 started well, and not with a broken boiler and no heating for four days just when your parents arrived!

More soon!

Giving Back to Greenland

 

It’s no secret, I write about Greenland, and as a full-time writer I make a modest living from my Greenland stories. So, it’s time to give something back. Starting in January 2019, I’m going to give 100% of my royalties for the sale of my novella The Heart that was a Wild Garden, including paperbacks and eBooks (and audio when I get that far), to charity.

Why and to whom?

The why is really easy. I draw on a lot of my own personal experiences from when I lived and worked in Greenland, and I try to incorporate the culture and traditions of an amazing people living in an amazing country in my stories. Greenland is out-of-this-world interesting, and, if you ask me, Greenlanders are some of the most amazing people in the world. I worked with many incredible Greenlanders, and I worked with even more incredible Greenlandic children, teens, and young men and women, in schools, at A-level college, and at the Police Academy in Nuuk.

Sawing blocks of snow in Qaanaaq, Greenland, app. 800 miles from the North Pole.

As a teacher living and working in small, remote communities – and even in the capital city – you discover the importance of education very quickly, especially when many traditional ways of living and working, such as hunting and fishing in the north and east, are under threat from climate change and globalisation. Graduating from school, and learning a trade or studying subjects at a higher level can make all the difference. Which is why I want to support the Association for Greenlandic Children (website in Greenlandic and Danish, only).

As mentioned above, the who is the Association for Greenlandic Children. They work hard to ensure that children in Greenland grow up in a safe environment. Furthermore, the association support children and young Greenlanders through school and into further education. According to the association’s website, there are just under 56,000 people living in Greenland, and roughly 15,000 of them are children aged 0-18. While there are many strong, well-functioning families in Greenland, there are also many others who struggle and need help to cope with the challenges of daily life. Often, as in many countries, it is the children who face the greatest challenges in life. The Association for Greenlandic Children does what it can to help children in Greenland, and in Denmark, through summer camps and outreach family support services, to name but a few of their programmes. There are lots of Greenlanders living in Denmark, and the challenges facing those families can be, in some ways, even more difficult due to cultural differences and the challenges associated with language.

The igloo is on the beach close to the “sea”. Herbert Island is in the distance.

The main character in The Heart that was a Wild Garden is a young girl, and Constable David Maratse finds himself in a parental role, all of a sudden. It’s a challenge for him, to say the least. But I have no sympathy. 🙂 As a teacher, with no kids of my own, I received a baptism of fire (or was it ice?) in Greenland, working with the most amazing kids I have ever met, and am likely to ever meet. I used to describe my job as if I was a paratrooper – parachuting into a community (I did arrive by helicopter), and teaching your way out. So, when I gave Maratse the task of looking after nine-year-old Iiluuna, I had to chuckle every time she surprised and confounded him. I left Maratse scratching his head in despair a few times, as I often did.

The temperature in our “classroom” is about -20 degrees Celsius.

I suppose the purpose of my books, besides entertainment, is to share something of what I learned and love about Greenland and the Greenlandic people. I hope you, dear reader, enjoy my books, and I look forward to giving something back to the kids that truly shaped my years as a teacher, and as a human being. It is possible to support the Association for Greenlandic Children directly via this link to their donation page, or you can buy The Heart that was a Wild Garden from Amazon (and other stores from January, 2019).

The Association for Greenlandic Children also has a Facebook page. Check it out for fun photos and video, and give them a “like” while you’re there. The page is in Greenlandic and Danish, but likes are universal!

It’s December!

In anticipation of an end-of-year post, December brings its own news with the sale of the Spanish translation rights of Seven Graves One Winter, that’s in addition to the translations sold to publishers in Portugal and the Czech Republic. It’s all happening very quickly, or it seems to be. There are the usual periods of “hurry up and wait”, but there’s plenty to be written in the intervals.

Talking of writing, 2018 has been a huge year with lots of releases, including We Shall Be Monsters and The Calendar Man at the end of November, ready for the Christmas period. Yep, I mentioned Christmas again as I’m looking forward to a break during the holidays. But it’s not over yet, the first release of 2019 will be The Twelfth Night scheduled for release on January 6th, the same day as the Greenlandic tradition of Mitaartut when people dress up in masks and padded tops to scare away evil spirits – or do they? Find out more in The Twelfth Night, book 2 of the Dark Advent series picking up where The Calendar Man left off.

As for 2019 projects, I don’t want to give too much away, but here’s a teaser image for the cover of Narkotika scheduled for an early release. Narkotika introduces undercover Greenland cop Eko Simigaq in a darker, grittier (yes, that’s possible) Greenland Crime series set in modern Greenland.

That’s it for now. More later in December.

Oh, and if you’re enjoying the iceberg images on the covers as much as I am, do check out the work of Annie Spratt.