Researching Ghost Hunter

For GHOST HUNTER, I needed inspiration for the Mountain of Ghosts, and to refresh my memory on what the Forest is like in winter.

I visited Finnish Lapland in midwinter, where, in the Urkho Kekkonen National Park, I snowshoed for miles through the silent forest, following the tracks of a female elk, and watching reindeer happily pawing the snow off lichen in temperatures of minus 18 Celsius.

I also spent some time wandering the mountains of Dovrefjell National Park in Norway, where on many solo hikes I got the feel of the fells, and experienced that strange, haunting feeling of being alone in the mountains.

On several occasions while in Doverfjell, I tried (and sometimes failed) to avoid the musk-oxen: which resemble extremely shaggy bison, but are in fact related to sheep, although they have an unsettling tendency to charge when annoyed.  I also spent hours gathering their amazingly light, warm wool, which had got snagged on bushes (I brought a small bag home with me, to show to children at book signings).

Also in Dovrefjell, I climbed most of the way to the summit of Mount Snøhetta.  Its sudden fogs, eerie crags and treacherous boulderfield gave me much inspiration for the Mountain of Ghosts.  And on the way down, I fell and bashed my cheekbone in the boulderfield – which told me just how Torak feels when he falls down the stone waterfall in the story.