We're lucky where I live, we rarely get the extreme weather that's suffered in other parts of the country, but even here there have been a few inches of snow in the past few days–enough to persuade most people that they'd rather stay indoors.
    Snow can be magical, but it can also give everyday things a feeling of unreality. This got me thinking about how snow and cold affect the senses; how they change the light–especially at night, how sounds can seem muffled or echo, the way the air tastes different etc.. I turned to one of my favourite books, South by Sir Ernest Shackleton, to put things in perspective.
    How did any of those explorers survive the cold? I can feel it nipping at my toes and fingers just reading about it. Yet the language Shackleton uses isn't full of metaphors or dramatic phrases. The more simple and matter-of-fact the narrative, the more extraordinary the achievements of those men seem. One of the characters in my play, Antarctica, which was runner-up in the Walter Swann Trust Playwriting Competition, is fascinated by polar explorers and wonders how he'd measure up to them. When you're looking for a hero to put in your novel, you could do worse than give them some of the direct simplicity of Shackleton's writing.
    I might never have heard of South or Shackleton if it hadn't been for the headmaster at the primary school in my village. Mr. Smith liked to play a classical music record, or read to us for a period in the afternoon. One of the books he read was South. I shall be forever grateful to him for that.
    Anyone who is still being kept indoors by the weather will be pleased to hear that it's Smashwords' Read an Ebook Week again. Until midnight, Pacific Time, on 10th March you can download Discord's Child and Artists and Liars FREE. Visit https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ksdearsley.
    Happy reading!