1,000s of things!

dsc_7874I’ve just done the math… including eBooks, paperbacks and “pages read” via the Kindle Unlimited programme, The Ice Star has just topped the 1,000 books sold mark!

I am overwhelmed by the sales. Perhaps small in comparison, but 1,000 sales in the first month feels so good. The Ice Star was never meant to be. In December 2014, when I finally submitted my first 15,000 words to my supervisor at Falmouth University, I was so done with the project. I had rewritten the entire novel twice, polished the first five chapters at least eight times, changed POV twice, I even changed the sex of the main character – yes, Fenna started out as Ravn. (Thanks, Sarah Acton!) In short, I never wanted to see The Ice Star again, and I never thought it would amount to much.

I was done.

But, Sarah wouldn’t let it lie.

Neither would my supervisor, Tom. He mentioned it was a shame not to finish it. He thought it had promise, not least for the setting.

I did pick up the manuscript – a mess of rewritten chapters, notes, and a hundred different copies of different versions – several times, but I never did anything with it. I chose to write fantasy novels instead. Then Alaska happened. I quit my job, and Jane and I joined our friends on the Yukon River. The last thing I did was load the latest mess of chapters onto my tablet computer, and imagined that one day I might look at it, just out of interest – for old time’s sake.

After two months on the Yukon River, and a lifetime’s worth of unique experiences, Jane and I got off the river and spent a week in Fairbanks, AK. The Ice Star was silent, it didn’t so much as creak as we explored the town and made plans to visit Denali National Park. But, in the park we saw a wolf, and there was a murmur and a hint of something that I remembered from a long lost passage in a fragmented chapter. I ignored it, choosing instead to squint at the fuzzy, grainy, bleary photos of a wolf’s behind.

We took the train to Anchorage, and I took a few hundred photos of Denali as it finally broke through the clouds. Jane got sick, and I celebrated my birthday, alone, at the movies. I spent $10 on a movie ticket and a cup of coffee, and indulged in a brain-dead couple of hours with Jason Bourne. Predictable? Yes. Familiar? Very. Enjoyable? You bet.

And The Ice Star was forgotten once more.

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Until, that is, we boarded the ferry in Whittier. A pod of orca swam around the bow of the MV Kennicott before the ferry slipped anchor and we began our journey to Juneau. I found a table in the lounge as Jane slept and I opened the folder on my computer, and started reading, editing, shaping and listening to the characters of The Ice Star, and the story they wanted to tell.

And that was that.

The Ice Star would never have happened without the support of great friends and colleagues. No matter what happens next, and whatever the future holds for The Ice Star and its sequels, I will forever be grateful for the help and support of friends like Sarah Acton and Isabel Dennis-Muir, and the people and nature of Greenland.

Qujanaq!

Curious? The Ice Star is available in paperback and on Kindle or for Kindle apps from Amazon:

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In the Shadow of the Mountain

mtn-shadow-100pctThe planning, scribbling of notes, and plot development is firmly underway for book two in the Greenland Trilogy: In the Shadow of the Mountain. But one of the things I enjoy most about writing the book is working on the cover – even before the drafts and redrafts are done. Having a cover is like seeing the finish line in the distance; it’s something to work toward.

While I don’t want to say very much at all about what happens to Fenna, and the decisions she is forced to make in book two, I can reveal that it opens in the USA as Konstabel Fenna Brongaard prepares for her next mission in Greenland. No spoilers here, lots of people have yet to read The Ice Star.

But, with the finish line in sight, there is plenty to keep me motivated and working hard to get Fenna’s story down on the page as the deadlines loom and the shadow of the mountain grows.

Have you arrived at this page by mistake? Are you looking for book one? The Ice Star is available in paperback and on Kindle or for Kindle apps from Amazon:

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Beg leave to inform, proceeding South

Chris and Ninja on the mountain, Uummannaq

One of my favourite and most battered books is Roland Huntford’s The Last Place on Earth. When I inherited my team of dogs in Uummannaq, Greenland, I experienced a sharp learning curve, and even sharper canine teeth. Along with the seven dogs, the hunter threw a frozen seal into the bargain. The deal was I would look after his dogs for the winter, learn to drive a team, and he would pick them up again in the summer.

He never came back.

That seal though… the idea was I could cut chunks out of it, and feed the blubber to the dogs when the temperature dipped below minus 17 celsius. This happened a lot, but not before the seal knocked me off my feet every time I opened the shed door. Seals are very streamlined, and, with its flippers frozen to its sides, my seal shot out of the shed like a torpedo every time I braved the weather to feed the dogs. Something had to be done.

I found the answer in Huntford’s book. Amundsen and his men shot seals in Antarctica when preparing food caches for their race to the pole. The trick was waiting until the seal was frozen and sawing off the flippers to make a flat base. The Norwegians made a food depot, using the seals – noses up, flippers at their sides – as the walls of the cache. I read this passage three times before I put down the book and grabbed my saw.

The dogs howled as I went about my work, turning my torpedo into a four foot high popsicle with long, leathery whiskers. I rolled the seal into the shed and slid it into the corner. The dogs chewed on the flippers and blubbery chunks after dinner.

Life in the Arctic is all about firsts. This was the first time I had owned a team, the first time I sawed through a seal, and the first time I truly felt I was following in the famous Norwegian’s footsteps.

Curious or horrified? You can get a flavour of Greenland by reading The Ice Star, available for Kindle eReaders, Kindle apps, and in paperback from Amazon:

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The Sands of Sacrifice

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I am not the only writer with a “good luck tradition”, but I might be one of the few where the tradition can potentially lead to the complete destruction of the manuscript. When I have my final rough draft I stick it in my backpack and drive to the beach. The West Coast of Denmark has one long, broad, fantastic beach, with plenty of waves. The tradition involves tossing the manuscript onto the sand at the surf line and grabbing it before the waves surge onto the beach. If I manage to get it before it is sucked out to sea, then I presume the story to be good enough to edit. If I get wet, and a struggle ensues, then I know that I am invested in the story, and will do what it takes to get it ready for publication.

It took me about three and a half years to reach the point where I was ready to toss The Ice Star into the sea, I am pleased to say it only took a few seconds to decide to grab it!

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If you just want to sample the book, you can find it on Amazon:

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