Posts Tagged With: Norway

A Spot of Novel-gazing

A chance to finish me next novel before the Ice Hotel melts again!

Memories are made of Ice… the Ice Bar at the Kirkenes SnowHotel in 2013

As a famous contortionist once said, the end is in sight.

My second novel, Kirkenes Blue, is almost ready to be published so I thought I would show off the cover art as it will almost certainly look (perhaps the text will be tweaked between now and publication, but only tweaked a little, honest).

The original picture is one I took at the Kirkenes SnowHotel, on arrival at its Ice Bar – although it looks like an x-ray of teeth, it is actually a row of glasses in the eerie blue of the under-bar LED lighting.

The lower half of the picture has been copied and mirrored to remove the black area which I liked but caused too big a headache when it came to placing text.

It's a cover up...

It’s a cover up…

More news soon about publication!


Categories: Artwork, Writing | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Return to Kirkenes

Kirkenes - in handy mural form

Kirkenes – in handy mural form (the bike is real though)

What seems like a million years ago, but was probably only half a million at most, I started writing my second novel, Kirkenes Blue. As happens so often, the stuff of life that makes up life and occasionally stuffs it up came along and more than eighteen months have passed.

In a way this turned out to be a good thing, because this hiatus allowed me, through no actual planning, to revisit the Arctic town of Kirkenes in Spring to see what it looked like in full daylight. When I was last here, it was polar night so I never quite had a feel for the place.

Frozen in time...well, Kirkenes

Frozen in time…well, Kirkenes

What a difference a season makes! Well, it’s light for starters and the air is crystal clear. And the grassy park in front of the library turns out to be, well, a concrete park in front of the library. At least I remembered what the statue was of.

To the Mothers of World War Two

To the Mothers of World War Two

The church proving my suspicions about time in Kirkenes

The church proving my suspicions about time in Kirkenes

Here’s an excerpt of a bit I have actually written, from the first chapter:

There are many unusual people who live in Kirkenes. Most are not born there but are carried by car, ferry, train or aircraft to a Norwegian town that nestles between Finland and Russia, on one edge of the mighty Varangerfjorden. In winter, the darkness arrives and stays, digging its heels in and resisting the sun until spring when it is kicked out and replaced by, according to some, an unwelcome light that too insists on outstaying its welcome. It is maybe because of this phenomenon that so little in the town is done by halves or half-heartedly. It is, for the most part, all or nothing in Kirkenes.

Time has no real meaning here. Given the stubbornness of the sun to stay or go most of the year, there is already a precedence by which to ignore “natural” time. The problem is that the artificial, man-measured time is also a miscreant.

If you walk westwards, you should move the clocks backwards. Except that west of Kirkenes is Finland, a country with a different time zone to that of Norway, one hour ahead in fact. So move west from Kirkenes and the clocks go forward an hour. Move east and cross the Russian border, just five miles from the centre of town, and the clocks move forward two or three hours. It is as if Kirkenes is trapped between time zone layers, like a temperature inversion but with time. A temporal inversion, if you like.

The average warmth of the local people is, however, far higher than the average warmth of the climate. The mean temperature in January is −11.5 °C and +12.6 °C in July. It once reached +16.9 °C and the first case of heat stroke was recorded in a hundred years although it later turned out that, in fact, the patient was suffering from a combination of insufficient fluid intake and more than sufficient stupidity rather than the effects of sun in isolation.

Unless you are born with the Arctic Circle gene, how you react to the cycle of cold and the dark followed by not-so-cold and ridiculously light is unpredictable. Many who come to stay, don’t. Every now and again, there are those who stay who really shouldn’t.

I find trying to pick up the story after such a break challenging. For one thing, I have had to read everything I have written from start to finish, in order to remind myself of details that I may have either not remembered or, worse still, remembered completely wrongly. Then, the next task is to fit in new material and that is tricky without disturbing the cadence of the existing writing. My next novel, I am just going to write from beginning to end without stopping, honest!*

I’m aiming to complete the writing by the end of this month and publish October-time. That’s if life lets me!

A chance to finish me next novel before the Ice Hotel melts again!

Do you want ice with that drink?


* Never gonna happen…

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Hiding in Plain Sight

Hammerfest - not a nail-driving implement in sight

Hammerfest – not a nail-driving implement in sight

It seems likes a long time ago I was in Norway, sliding serenely up, and then down, the fjords between Bergen and Kirkenes. I was trying to think of something to write tonight, as I prepare for the end of my “other life”, at least for the time being. Another week and I will be back at home during the week as well as weekends, enjoying the delights of our soon-to-be-completed Limery (see thesnailofhappiness’s post here about that).

My thoughts wandered to Hammerfest and how, sometimes, taking a little time out to just look, to really look at the world can make a difference.

Look at the building – the one with the clock. The Snail and I did. What we saw, what we focussed on, was the mural:

Here be, er, dragons

Here be, er, dragons

What was a Welsh-looking dragon doing here, so far North of anywhere? What was it doing trying to breathe fire AND sword-swallow at the same time? The guy with the beard seems pretty nonplussed about the whole thing. We had no idea what this was about.

To be honest, we still don’t.

And to be even more honest, it was only after we were back on board the ship, looking over our pictures, that we noticed that this odd-looking rock formation was in fact, a thing (not just an odd-looking rock formation next to a clock):

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

As I prepare to leave Reading, I wonder what I have missed by looking, but not seeing. Perhaps I should go on a “sight-seeing” tour before I leave! Watch this space… but don’t look too hard.

There are times when you can’t see for looking – and when you can’t see the cat for the dragon.


Categories: General silliness, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Slow Boat to Kirkenes



The Snail, Auguste and I are on a boat, heading for the North Pole. We will, of course, turn and miss by a few hundred miles but it still has that feeling of adventure, of entering into the unknown, the exact unknown we went to two and a half years ago (but not Auguste, his passport wasn’t ready for that trip). Then, it was polar night, the sun was shy to shine and it was the type of cold that makes your bones snuggle down under your skin, trying to remember the feel of warmer climes.

Now it is spring and the sun is like that guest at a party that, whilst great to have there, insists on staying until every other guest has left, drinks the last of the decent whisky and then demands breakfast, before deciding to move in for 6 months*.

Sunset...well, nearly

Sunset…well, nearly

Actually, we are going to Kirkenes, somewhere I hope we don’t miss by a hundred miles, or even one. We won’t, unlike the sun, stay there long but it gives me a chance to check out the feel of the place again as I try to finish Kirkenes Blue. The novel was supposed to be done and dusted by now; indeed Auguste was going to be leaving a copy of that in the library of the MS Trollfjord instead of BATDIG as he is going to do very soon – he just has to finish reading it first.

Now for a good book...oh, this'll do...

Now for a good book…oh, this’ll do…

Although it is becoming colder as we head further North, the days are becoming longer which means that, by the time we reach Kirkenes, there will be about 22 hours of usable daylight every day. Already, the sun isn’t really setting as such, just going through the motions.

No rush

No rush

So, the three of us slowly head towards the point where we turn around and head south again, with the sun slowly realising there are no more twiglets to be had, no more rum to be punched.

Slow is good**. We like slow.


* It happens. I’ll say no more.

**Except possibly when you’re trying to upload a blog post from the middle of a fjord via a damp piece of string.

Categories: Auguste, BATDIG, General silliness, ships, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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