One of the reasons why Arctic Blue Death is set in Canada’s far north is because I’ve always wanted to go there. So when I was deciding the plot and setting for the 4th Meg Harris mystery, I thought what better way to see it than to have Meg go there. That way I get to go too.
A couple of years ago, during the longest days of the year, I hopped on a plane and flew to Iqaluit, where I spent several intriguing days and then onto Pangnirtung for a couple of more. Although I was a little more than seven days on Baffin Island, I came away with more than enough material, impressions and plot ideas to keep Meg busy.
It’s a harsh and brutal land and it took me awhile to appreciate its underlying beauty. As Meg keeps telling herself, I had to put aside my southern sensibilities and see beyond the dirt and barren rock to what the land had to offer. And for me, that was the people. I met some very kind and wonderful people both in Iqaluit and Pangnirtung that helped give me some insight of what it is like to live in one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet.
On the longest day of the year I was in Pangnirtung where the sun doesn’t set, but runs just below the mountain ridge on the southern shore for an hour or so before popping back up again. No one seemed to sleep, including me. In fact at any hour of the ‘white night’ people, including kids, would be seen out walking or playing.
When I’d flown to Iqaluit, I’d had a vague idea for a plot. I knew it would be about Meg’s father, who’d died while traveling in the Arctic when she was a child, but I wasn’t sure how he had died. I just knew that something related to his death would prompt her to go to Baffin Island. While I was being shown the Iqaluit RCMP detachment by a young constable, she happened to mention one of her cold case files. It had to do with a plane that had gone missing over 20 years ago and was never seen again. The minute she said the words “missing plane” the light bulb went on. I knew I could do a lot with a missing plane and I have in Arctic Blue Death.
To learn more about my research trip to Baffin read the November 2009 issue of Mystery Scene Magazine in which I talk about my trip and how it influenced the shaping of Arctic Blue Death.
I also took many photos, some of which I include below. But I’ve also set up an album, so click here to access the album.
View Across the Pangnirtung Fjord at midnight on
the longest day of the year