Dark Matter michelle paver(20點
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Researching Dark Matter
A few years ago, I spent a fortnight travelling by ship around the entire Spitsbergen archipelago, and although I wasn’t then thinking about ghosts, I was so struck by the beauty and the desolation that I knew I would at some stage write a story about it. I went in summer, at the time of the midnight sun, and Jack’s experiences on first seeing Spitsbergen are mine: the sinister, black-faced polar bear who’d been eating the walrus from the inside; the abandoned guillemot chick; Jack’s solo walk to the small, cold lake; and those brief but desperate moments when he thinks he’s lost… All this is what I’ve seen and experienced myself.
While I was writing DARK MATTER, I needed to get the feel of the polar night at first hand, so I went back to Spitsbergen in winter. I went snowshoeing in the dark (with and without a headlamp), and climbed a glacier in driving snow and zero visibility. It was the time of the full moon, and because I was living Jack’s story in my head, I realized how paranoid he would be about the least shred of cloud drifting across the moon.
Also, I discovered a curious thing while I was out hiking. Whenever I lagged behind a little, I kept hearing this strange “echo” effect: as if someone else in snowshoes were following me. Doubtless it was no more than the echo of my own snowshoes, but it was distinctly unsettling.
“I got a sense of the unease you’d feel on entering a small, freezing cabin in the dark…”One of the most striking things I gained from my winter trip to Spitsbergen was the sense it gave me of what the cabin would be like. I got a sense of the unease you’d feel on entering a small, freezing cabin in the dark. Even when you’ve got that first paraffin lamp safely lit, the unease remains, because you can’t see much of what’s outside, and the cabin itself is full of shadows. What’s waiting for you, just beyond the edge of the light?