Cold Research

I write about a lot of things in my stories about which I have thankfully no experience, but there are some things I have done, and when I write about them I have a wealth of memories to inspire me. I had a team of dogs in Greenland, and, while it may have taken us a few years, we finally found our sledging mojo and made some tracks on the sea ice. We had plenty of misadventures too, but always got home safely, even in the dark.

The dogs were built for the Arctic, but I wasn’t. Every day was a learning curve. But I do miss it, and I miss my dogs. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have a team again. Until then, I’ll keep writing.

January Updates

I have finished updating the webpage – for today at least. I will add content and generally fiddle with the pages through the course of the year. The main changes reflect a focus on writing and being an author. They include:

An EVENTS page with a calendar of dates when I will be speaking, reading, or just generally hanging out in person.

I have added a READS page, and I intend to mention some of the key polar books that have inspired me as a reader, writer, and adventurer (of sorts).

I have also tried to distinguish between works of FICTION and NONFICTION.

That’s it for now. I’ll leave you with a photo of Uummannaq in January. The yellow building in the centre is the hospital, and figures heavily in The Ice Star.

A Bloody New Year

It’s been a bloody year. I have lost count of the bodies I have buried in the mountains, pushed beneath the ice, incinerated in tents, impaled, drowned, and executed. Yeah, I’ve been busy.

2017 was a veritable writing roller-coaster, starting with the launch of The Ice Star, the story featuring Konstabel Fenna Brongaard of the Danish Sirius Sledge Patrol. There was a time, back in 2015, when it was unlikely she was ever going to be published. I was quite happy for her story never to be told.

Ever.

But after two months on the Yukon River, paddling from Canada into Alaska, I took a chance on Fenna, tidied up the mess of chapters while on a ferry cruising past glaciers in Prince William Sound, drafted yet another draft, edited her story for the umpteenth time, and finally decided to just be done with her in January last year.

It was the best thing I ever did.

Twelve months later, and Fenna’s story has spawned two more books in The Greenland Trilogy, with plans for another two follow-on series, the first of which should be released this April. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that Fenna will return in Blood Spoor, the first book in The Canadian Quartet.

Fenna’s story gave me other characters to work with and develop. Constable David Maratse turned up in two short stories: Katabatic and Container, and will soon return in a third called Tupilaq, before launching his own series with Seven Graves, One Winter. Whereas Fenna takes a Jason Bourne-like approach to solving conspiracies, Maratse will focus on solving crimes with a more methodical and sombre approach. His story picks up where Fenna’s ended in The Shaman’s House.

The Ice Star introduced another character in the form of RCMP Inspector Nicklas Fischer. He also gets his own series in 2018. The first book returns to a time when he was a sergeant, before he started his shadowy career that set him on a collision course with Fenna. It should come out in time for the summer.

I hope then that readers might find something of interest within the course of 2018. The likelihood of more blood and bullets is high, and, so long as the body count makes sense to the story, I’ll be sure to let Fenna pull the trigger. As for Nicklas and Maratse’s approach to solving crimes and exposing cover-ups, you’ll just have to wait and see.

Here’s wishing all of you the best for 2018, and thanks for making 2017 a great year for Fenna and me.

Chris

Sneak Preview

I am useless at keeping secrets, so here’s a sneak preview of the cover of Piteraq.

It’s “in development”, which means exactly that. If, like me, you were sad when a certain Sirius Sledge Patrol member was killed in The Ice Star, then you’re in luck – Oversergent Mikael Gregersen returns in Piteraq, a stand-alone novel set in Greenland’s High Arctic.

He won’t be the only character to get his own series after The Ice Star. Greenlandic policeman David Maratse returns with his own purely crime series in 2018. But, if you’re curious, you can find out more about his early career before he met Fenna in two short stories set in Greenland: Katabatic and Container – available later this year.

I know, I’m teasing, but if you like the north, the Arctic, stories about snow, storms, and survival, you’ll like Piteraq.

Adventurous Spines: Slaven’s Roadhouse

Stayed two nights at Slaven’s Roadhouse. Received an incredibly warm welcome from Randy, Cindy, and Shaelyn. Amazing service in an amazing place. We started in Whitehorse and we’re on our way to Emmonak, as long as it’s safe and fun, we’ll keep paddling! We have two children in our party: Tiuri (9) and Liva (7), and the Rangers made them feel right at home. Keep up the excellent work – we appreciate it so much!
Best regards: Lars, Suzi, Tiuri, Liva, Jane and Chris
www.lifeisgoodfollowus.com

Slaven’s Roadhouse is a halfway house, a little patch of heaven in the Yukon Charley Rivers National Preserve. It was also our home for a couple of days and nights, time to recharge before pushing on deeper into Alaska. The Rangers were supercharged with humour, compassion and hospitality. They received us, our gear, and our kids with open arms. They were our heroes.

A little too dramatic for you?

Try a month on the Yukon River, through lightning, forest fires, heatwaves, rainstorms, and mud… lots of mud. Sure, we were having a great time, but a little home comfort was no small thing, and we found heaps of it at Slaven’s.

Slaven’s was also, for me, the culmination of a teenage dream. I had devoured all of Jack London’s books and stories about the Yukon, Klondike, and all things Canada and Alaska, when I should have been studying for my exams – all of them, over several years of school, high school, and university. When I put London to one side, it was only to pick up books about dogsled racing on the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. Dreams of the North took me to Alta, Norway, where I worked as a sled dog kennel helper for the very first time, but it was at Slaven’s, as an emerging writer, that I sat in one of the places I had read about, without realising it. There, on the wall, was a Yukon Quest poster signed by the dog drivers, and I realised I had arrived, and that dreams, once again, can come true, albeit not quite how one imagined them.

The kids had fun too. Tiuri and Liva explored the cabin, the outhouses, the woods, the dredge. They panned for gold, got nailed by mosquitoes the size of small aircraft, and we talked about bears – good eatin’, apparently. Or was it the skins that were good? It didn’t matter. We were on an adventure, staying at a roadhouse built for the purpose.

Suzi and Lars chilled out too, although the sting of a Yellowjacket almost ended Suzi’s Yukon adventure. We had talked about bee stings back in Denmark, before the trip. We had not talked about wasps. Suzi was stung earlier in the trip, with no reaction, but these Yellowjackets – about twice the size of a “normal” wasp – well, it took her out of the game for a while. Once again, the Rangers were on the case. She couldn’t have been stung at a better location.

Jane and I enjoyed Slaven’s too, although Lars’ boots introduced a percussive element to the experience that we had not prepared for – damn big boots, mate! But the Roadhouse was a chance to spread out and dry out. We hung our gear on the same lines with the same pegs used by dog drivers. We sat at the same table, slept in the same beds, and lived the Alaskan life I had talked about on trips in Scotland, in our home in Greenland. This was everything Greenland was supposed to have been – that is, an Arctic environment, with trees!

Adventurous spines drive one to find adventure in far-out, remote, and exciting places. I sent a copy of The Ice Star to the Rangers in Eagle, Alaska, and hope they can wedge it alongside their gear to leave it on the bookshelf at Slaven’s. I found adventure there, in the wilds. The thought of a dog driver dipping into my book during a layover… well, that’s another dream come true.

Time in Australia RIGHT NOW

Following The Ice Star down under, I find myself regularly asking Google what time it is in Australia “right now”. And right now, The Ice Star is moving up the charts for International Mystery and Crime on Amazon.

So, as a crazy thank you to the sudden boost in readers taking a chance on my book, I dug around for an Aussie song from my childhood… I was 10 at the time. Right now, well, I’m a little older.

Thanks again to Aussie readers! Have a great day/evening.

Adventurous Spines

A lot of books get an awful lot of abuse, but the best-loved and most abused, in my opinion, are the ones squeezed onto hastily-erected shelves in frostbitten huts plunged into darkness for three to four months each year. The Ice Star has yet to join the hallowed spines of polar greats, but it is on its way to the Arctic, in the library of an Aurora Expeditions adventure cruise ship – they just posted about it on their Facebook page.

I have discovered interesting books in remote cabins in the far north of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. Tracing a finger down the cracked and splintered spine of a much-read, and much-abused book evokes a sense of adventure for it takes an adventurous spirit to reach such cabins in the wilds.

In the same way that frost can often eat into a book in a remote cabin, books can eat into the miles taken to reach such places. When the stove is burning, your wool socks are thawing on the line looped between the rafters, and you’re kicking back in a bruised-wood chair, a sleeping bag wrapped around your knees, a cup of cocoa in one hand and a book in the other, well … you get the picture. There’s nothing better after a long trek, paddle, climb, or ski than following the path of another adventurer through the pages of a book.

I plan on sending more books into the wilds, perhaps you’ll find one someday.

Photo of Shackleton’s bookshelf from The Smithsonian.