Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Let It Snow

It’s cold at the moment, as you’ve probably noticed. Everyone else has, understandably enough, been moaning about the weather. But when you are half way through writing a book called ‘Ice Force’ it does have certain advantages. When I need to get in the mood for another description of snow storms swirling through the Arctic glaciers, all I have to do is step out into the garden.

One of the things you have to do as writer is create a believable atmosphere. Books vary, of course. Some are set in very, ordinary everyday locations -- the suburbs, for example. I like to set my books in fairly exotic places. I think that is part of the appeal of the adventure-action thriller genre. There is a big element of escapism in these books. Nobody wants to escape to Swindon. They want the book to take them somewhere exciting, and preferably dangerous as well.

That does, of course, mean the writer has to create believable detail. You need to make it real, without overdoing the travelogues. The best way is to focus on little things. When I was writing about Helmand in Afghanistan for Death Force, for example, I mentioned the smell of the wild irises that grow in the mountains along the Afghan-Pakistan border. In Ice Force, I’ve mentioned the grinding noise that the plates of ice moving beneath you make as you trudge towards the North Pole.

The atmosphere has to be woven into every sentence you write.

And, of course, it helps if it is snowing outside while you are doing it.

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