Beginnings

The New Greenland Literary Expedition

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Where to begin?

I can only speak for myself at this point – Sarah’s journey is different – but to begin at the beginning, while studying at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, I leafed through a copy of National Geographic in the library and discovered the Danish Sirius Sledge Patrol featured in an advert for Rolex watches. As a teen I had devoured Jack London stories, and read as much as I could about dogs, sledges and the Arctic. I knew I had to go there, to live in the Arctic, and to have my own dogs.

Nine years later, I did.

Rolex1So began my life in Greenland and my interest in Danish polar expeditions, with a particular interest in Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen’s Danish Literary Expedition (1902-04), information about which we will explore here on the website.

Erichsen was inspired by Greenland, recording his travels and experiences in poetry, journals…

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Withdrawal Symptoms!

I confess, this song was my ringtone for about 4 years! The song is called Seqinitta Qinngorpaatit and the band is Nanook. At one point I taught the new drummer when I was teaching at the A level college in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital.

I don’t know if this is throwback Thursday, but it is a great song.

Find out more about Nanook here.

Christoffer Petersen Interview: “I think the setting for my books helps to define their style”

The Dorset Book Detective

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the Beast from the East continues to keep the UK cold and damp, I talk to someone who knows the true meaning of tough weather; Denmark based Arctic explorer Christoffer Petersen, whose novels are set against a backdrop of the harsh Greenlandic landscape. He talks to me about his books and how they are enhanced by their unique setting.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction?

I think the setting for my books helps to define their style, especially the crime books. Before I lived in the Arctic, I read a lot of Jack London stories and became fascinated with how the environment was just as much a character as the characters themselves. It’s like the ring in The Lord of the Rings; it has a voice, and I’d like to think I capture that in my style…

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Poems from a Polar Night

The Author Lab

The Last Glimpse of the Sun before the Long Polar Night, Qaanaaq, Greenland, 2011)

The clock is ticking before the publication of my second short story featuring Constable David Maratse from East Greenland. I have made a point of including poems from the collection called Isblink, by Ludvig Mylius-Erichsen (1872-1907), to set the scene. He died leading the Danmark Ekspedition in 1907, and his poems from a previous expedition help frame my stories. But, I don’t want to talk too much about Ludvig, as Sarah Acton – resident poet – and I have exciting news about him to be announced at a later date. Rather, I want to talk about containment.

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It’s Emotional

Okay, I admit, I made my wife cry. Normally I wouldn’t be proud of such a thing, but in this instance it is justified. Before you click away in disgust, allow me to explain myself.

Jane is an avid reader.

I wrote a book.

She cried when she read it.

We’ve been on lots of adventures together, but the time after the Yukon River, when we were touring around Alaska – with a quick visit to Seattle – was important to us. What’s more, when waiting on an Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver, I saw a poster for another train: The Coast Starlight, and was inspired to write a book.

I literally plotted the whole thing on the train journey, beat it out chapter by chapter, and sent a copy to my mail as a back-up. When we arrived in England in early September, 2016, I wrote the story that has become The Starlighter. Then I waited a year, sat on it – content with the fact that I had a whole story in the drawer, something I could dust off at a later date. Well, this September, I did just that, and now it is being edited for release.

So this book is personal. The others are too, but this book was meant to be something else. I was meant to write a book about our expedition on the Yukon River, but I wasn’t ready for that. I was, however, inspired by Naomi Klein’s book: This Changes Everything, and the idea that we are all very good at “looking away”. I decided that I was tired of looking away, and I wrote about Jayla Cooper, a twelve-year-old girl who does anything but look away.

Instead of writing an account of the Yukon, I wrote about the places we visited after the Yukon. The action takes place in Fairbanks, Alaska, and in Seattle, Washington, two places that have always been of interest to me, and are now important for Jane and I. So, The Starlighter is personal, just like Greenland is personal, and reading connects the dots. And sometimes connecting those dots makes us cry.

I got emotional when editing the first and second draft of The Starlighter. It makes me wonder, will other people find it emotional too?