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Guest blogger: Lisa Walker

22 July 2018

The romance of Antarctica

I know that writers are usually told to write what they know, but as I started writing my fifth novel I realised that I’ve pretty much run out of things that I know. From now on, I decided, I’m going to go crazy and just make things up! My new novel, Melt, is a fish-out-of-water romantic comedy about a production assistant who is forced to impersonate a TV science superstar in Antarctica.

And no, I’ve never been to Antarctica. It’s exerted a mysterious attraction, but has remained elusive. Sometimes though, I think that the places we don’t see are more powerful than the ones we do. They maintain an almost mythical status, like Narnia or Hobbiton. Antarctica is a mystical place for me, a snowy dreamscape.

I so loved being in my protagonist, Summer’s head as she sees Antarctica for the first time …

The plane drops lower and that vast whiteness becomes more defined. There are mountains—huge mountains. I hadn’t expected that. For some reason I’d thought it would be flat. The sea edge is rimmed with turquoise cliffs of ice. They are brilliant, luminous. I hadn’t dreamed they’d be that colour. My mouth is hanging open again. I shut it. We drop lower and I see black dots on the white. ‘Penguins,’ I squeal.

Rory jabs me hard this time.

‘Ow. Penguins,’ I repeat in a more subdued manner. ‘As you’d expect.’

In writing Melt, it helped that I’ve spent a lot of time in snowy places. I could visualise the hardships and the beauty of that environment. I’ve done many different jobs in my life—bar tender, reef guide, ranger—but the one that always gets people’s attention is the igloo building instructor. Yes, it’s true. And what’s more, I did this in Australia. I led snow survival courses in which we built—and slept in—igloos and snow caves.

Igloo building is quite a job. A snow cave can be whipped up in a couple of hours, but an igloo takes more commitment and preferably a team of willing builders. Sleeping in one is warmer than you would expect, and rather lovely. At night, a candle will light up the whole igloo and during the day a beautiful blue glow comes through the snow. In Melt I set Summer the job of building an igloo all by herself, which she finds extremely challenging.

This is going to be fun! I can already picture the jolly time we will have inside the igloo on Christmas Day. There will be presents and candles and maybe some hot mulled wine. And when Adrian sees me on TV, he will be so impressed at what I’ve achieved he will realise I am the girl for him. I can’t wait. Now, I just need to remember what to do …

One and a half hours later, I sink to the snow, panting, and survey my creation—a ring of crumbling snow blocks about two metres in diameter. You couldn’t call it a shelter, although if you lay in the middle it might cut the wind.

Summer also gets to spend a sultry night in a snow cave with a strangely attractive bearded Norwegian scientist, Lucas. The romantic possibilities of this situation are thwarted by their multiple layers of puffy clothing. Having met my husband in just this situation, I can vouch for the difficulty. While Summer has never been a fan of hairy men, Lucas’s beard starts to grow on her. Pulling the wool over his eyes isn’t easy, however. Especially when everything she knows about Antarctica she’s learnt from a website called Polar Fun for Kids.

Melt features a killer seal, a politician who thinks he’s Scott of the Antarctic, and hordes of cute penguins. I had a lot of fun writing it, I hope you enjoy reading it too.

You can find Lisa here: Website | Blog | Facebook | Instagram

Melt

Antarctica is getting hotter …

Summer Wright, hippie turned TV production assistant, organises her life down to the minute. And when her project-management-guru boyfriend, Adrian, proposes marriage—right on schedule—she will reach the peak of The Cone of Certainty.

At least, that’s the plan—until adventure-show queen Cougar Gale intervenes. Suddenly Summer is impersonating Cougar in Antarctica: learning glaciology and climate science on the fly, building a secret igloo, improvising scripts based on Dynasty, and above all trying not to be revealed as an impostor.

‘Melt’ is published by Lacuna and is widely available, including at Amazon.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 30 July 2018 11:04 am

    Hi Penelope, thanks so much for that, glad you enjoyed it! I loved In at the Deep End too. Harriet is so much fun. I look forward to reading On the Right Track. Best wishes, Lisa

  2. 22 July 2018 10:50 am

    Hi Lisa, Well timed! I’ve just finished your book and have been meaning to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Lots of laughter and some serious moments as well, which made it a wonderful read. Now I know how you know so much about igloo building! And the penguins? I have a soft spot for them too – and their rituals around courtship are lovely! Penelope

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