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.

The Calendar Man – just in time for Christmas!

Once again, the paperback version of my pre-order book is available before the day of release, but this time it’s a good thing! If you’re curious about reading The Calendar Man as an advent calendar, and you prefer a physical copy, then if you order soon it should arrive in time for December 1st.

The Calendar Man is a dark advent story. It is set about twenty years into the future, just to make things interesting, but it is not science fiction. Without giving anything away, I should add that it features many of the characters from my Greenland crime books and thrillers, and refers to some upcoming stories, with no spoilers.

The very nature of an advent calendar story is that it should be read one day at a time. While The Calendar Man can be read in one sitting, I would urge you not to. It’s an advent after all.

The paperback version (English) of The Calendar Man can be found on Amazon:

US, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT, Canada, and Australia

The kindle version is still available for pre-order from Amazon

– currently at 0.99

Oh, and here’s the village Christmas tree from Qaanaaq, Greenland, 2010.

Iceland Noir

After what has to have been one of the wettest November weekends in Iceland – ever, I’m back in Denmark and trying to process what I experienced during four criminally exhausting fun-filled days at Iceland Noir.

I have to start with the Arctic Noir panel, as it was my first, and I was in such good hands. Moderated by Dr Noir herself, the forty-five minutes breezed by with laughs and loads of criminal insight into the works of Óskar Guðmundsson, Quentin Bates and Michael Ridpath – fantastic crime authors with gripping books set in Iceland. They are serious fun too! Mary Picken captured a fun moment during the panel – thanks!

There were tons of panels and it’s probably easier to check out the programme for Iceland Noir 2018 at the website to see what you missed. 😉 But the atmosphere and the chatting around the panels was even more interesting as I got to know authors whose work I have read and a ton of others that I must read.

The mystery tour was a mystery, and I believe Quentin might be responsible for the incredible amount of interest/fangirling that took place around a petrol pump! I’ve never really got into petrol pumps, and I’m not entirely sure it’s an Icelandic thing, but, you know … I have to read the book. 🙂

I think it’s easier to catch up on the Drunken Author’s Panel and the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers via Iceland Noir’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. Suffice it to say, there’s a whole other side to crime writing that has to be seen and heard to be believed.

Ultimately, it was Iceland itself – the wind and the rain – that stole the show when we got to see it between the clouds. It reminded me of Greenland, and yet, not so much, although the rain in Nuuk and Reykjavík is pretty much the same in intensity.

Bottom line is, I have to go back! There’s too many good reasons and good people not to. Thanks to everyone for making Iceland Noir 2018 such a memorable event.

If Jack London wrote Arctic Crime Stories

Constable David Maratse debuted in The Ice Star, rocked the Scandinavian (Amazon) charts in Seven Graves, One Winter, but I really got to know him through his early adventures as a Police Constable in Greenland. Compared to Jack London stories by one Goodreads reader, Maratse’s short stories include themes that are current and relevant in Greenland, and are drawn from my own experiences when I lived and worked in remote towns, villages and settlements on the west coast and in the far north of Greenland.

These are very personal stories. They are fiction, but there is a lot of truth between the pages; some of it is difficult to think about, but important to remember. I used to blog (private for family only) about my time in Greenland – the good, the bad, and the out-of-this-world-once-in-a-million experiences. Shoveling my own experiences into Maratse’s past brings Greenland that bit closer, and allows me to explore the country, and revisit the people that shaped me during a very intense seven years.

At the same time, they are tons of fun to write, and I am very fond of Constable David Maratse. So, I am excited to say that there will be more short stories set in Greenland coming next year, 2019.

Here’s the reading order if you, like certain members of my family, are losing track:

  1. Katabatic
  2. Container
  3. Tupilaq
  4. The Last Flight
  5. The Heart that was a Wild Garden
  6. Qivittoq (2019)
  7. The Thunder Spirits (2019)
  8. Iluliaq (2019)

followed by the novels

  1. Seven Graves, One Winter
  2. Blood Floe
  3. We Shall Be Monsters
  4. Untitled WIP
  5. Untitled WIP
  6. Untitled WIP

Monster Paperback

This has taken an age, but The Greenland Trilogy is finally in paperback with a whopping 632 pages. #loveit

There are several polar bear sequences in the story, and it makes sense – for me – to link to another Nanook song about the polar bear, and a shaman taking on polar bear form. Greenland is rich with shamanic culture and tradition, so, naturally, book three my trilogy is called The Shaman’s House.

The Greenland Trilogy is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon USA, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find out more about Nanook on their Facebook page.

Reaching for the Moon

Copenhagen Literary Agency

First things first, I cried in First Man, I honestly can’t remember how many times. It’s good. Ryan Gosling was amazing, Claire Foy was even better. See it, you won’t regret it.

Second thing, and I’ve been waiting to mention this, but Seven Graves, One Winter has been acquired by publishers in Portugal and the Czech Republic. This’ll be a short post as I really don’t know what to say about it, other than YES!

Right, gotta build a rocket ‘cos we’re going to the moon!