How did Thor’s Tale come about?
I have always been interested in the Shackleton story, and sceptical about the claims made for Shackleton’s leadershp. When I found the ship’s carpenter’s grave in Wellington cemetary I thought it was time to write something.
What did you do to ensure you captured the time and events in Thor’s Tale as accurately as possible?
Lots of research. I’m meticulous about detail and read widely. People who live on South Georgia during the summer (tourist boat) season assumed I had visited the place. I felt pleased about that. All the research was done in Wellington Public Library. I am a big fan of libraries.
Have you ever been, even remotely, in similar harsh conditions to the ones Thor would have experienced? If not what techniques did you use to help create the feelings of intense cold, wild oceans and back breaking work, not to mention the horror of whale slaughter?
No. Only my attic where I write. No heating. Very cold. Also, re the whales, it just takes empathy and imagination, things writers have a lot of.
What other experiences of your own, if any, were you able to draw on when writing the book?
Just the emotional experiences of the characters.
What would be your top tip for writing students?
Write with plenty of detail. Be accurate and specifc. Never be vague. Never write lots of generalisations. Good writing is vivid and memorable because it is precise.
What writing project are you working on in 2012?
I’m taking time off to be a grandma.
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