The Adventures Behind THE SHADOW KEEPER

By abielphinstone, Apr 21 2016 08:27AM

I grew up in the wilds of Scotland where weekends were spent scrambling over the moors, building dens in the woods and jumping into icy rivers and the sense of wonder I experienced back then in those remote and almost forgotten places made me want to write wild, outdoor adventures years later - and with that has come some awesome book research adventures... So, here you go for a gallery of photos showing the adventures I went on while writing THE SHADOW KEEPER.

1. Abseiling 72 metres into Abismo de Anhumas, a cave in the heart of the Brazilian jungle and home to incredible stalactites that lurk in the depths of the underground lake inside. There are several caves in The Shadow Keeper but this one inspired the secret cavern Moll discovers.

2. Learning to fire a long bow at Barbury Shooting School. There was a lot of catapulting in The Dreamsnatcher but I wanted to up the tension in The Shadow Keeper so after I had got to grips with the technique (Katniss makes it look far easier than it is…) I added arrows fletched with owl feathers and bows carved from silver birch for Moll and her Tribe to use against the Shadowmasks.

3. Foraging for mussels and oysters near Gamle Hellesund in Norway. I put out nets to catch cod, turbot and sole, I dived for mussels and I let down pots for crabs – and it meant that I could write with greater accuracy, and in more detail, about my characters living as outlaws in Little Hollows down by the sea.

4. Kayaking through the Norwegian fjords. In the early drafts of The Shadow Keeper much of the movement was shown through characters racing along the cliff tops on horseback. Poldark style. I then realised I wanted to use the sea more and so I kayaked out to a remote lighthouse near Lillesand in Norway to help me visualise the kayak scene in my book.

5. Trespassing into Smoo Cave, located at the eastern edge of a village called Durness, on Scotland’s most northerly coastline. After I’d waded past the KEEP OUT sign I found a hidden waterfall and wrote the prologue to The Shadow Keeper, about two witch doctors gathering in a gloomy cave.

6. Iguazu Falls in Argentina. I took a boat ride right up to one of the waterfalls and as I listened to the thundering roar of water and watched swifts pass into the cave beyond, I wrote about Moll and Siddy facing the haunted shipwreck and journeying through Devil’s Drop.

7. Free running near Aurland, Norway. I didn’t manage any of the backflips and barrelrolls Sébastien Foucan employs but I did scale a few cliffs and leap over some walls as I tore down the Norwegian coast. It helped me imagine my characters charging across the cliffs to find the amulet ahead of the smugglers.

8. A 35-feet cliff jump in France. A late addition to the book but I had to get my characters into the sea fast – and with maximum energy – so this seemed an appropriate conclusion. Plus, my two younger brothers made the jump before me so there was no turning back from the adventure itself…

9. Hang gliding over Rio De Janeiro. I wanted to see what it would feel like to fly, without the whir of an engine or the boundary of an aeroplane window and this experience inspired the penultimate chapter of the book: Sky Battle.

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