Sunday, 9 September 2012

How the Arctic inspired my new book

My latest children's novel - White Fear - was published this week by Puffin.

The book was inspired by reports I read in newspapers about how quickly the Arctic ice is melting - and the number of catastrophes that could come of that.

* the seas will rise

* rare wildlife will die out

* communities that live in the Arctic will lose their way of life

* without the ice in place, the seabed is accessible and some countries will begin to drill for oil, gas and other valuable resources - AND that they will start to jostle for who owns which part of the sea bed

White Fear draws mostly on the last two threats.

It is set at a fictional conference of the Arctic Powers (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland,Norway, Russia, Sweden and USA) in Tromso, Norway. These countries are trying, in a last chance to avoid war, to decide who owns which part of the seabed. But evil forces are at large. Forces that profit from war and oil exploitation. Forces that don't want peace.

The only way to avert war is for The Squad - five British child spies - to infiltrate the conference and stop the evil-doers. It involves mountain-top anxiety, abseiling, chases on ocean liners and even a submarine.

It also involves an ecological protest group made up of Inuit people - called White Fear - that is trying to make the Arctic Powers see sense and help reverse the ice melt.

Sadly, events in the last week have re-highlighted the problems the Arctic faces. 

The Arctic ice is now at its smallest and thinnest since records began. The melt is accelerating year on year, meaning that some Arctic Powers are already exploring, looking for oil and gas and minerals. Not so long ago the Russians placed a Russian flag on the seabed, appearing to claim it for themselves.

In addition, this week Greenpeace has been trying to prevent Russian drilling ships from searching for oil beneath that newly-exposed seabed, facing a very aggressive response from the Russians.

This time last year I was on board a Norwegian ship, looking at the waters and land that the Arctic Powers are fighting over. I hope this book does something to raise awareness in children about something that is vital to the future of our planet.

I also hope they enjoy it as a half-decent action thriller novel.

For a daily update on the Arctic ice you can visit

For news from Greenpeace's Save the Arctic campaign visit