I’d like to welcome Danielle Zinn to the blog today, to tell us about her atmospheric novel Snow Light. I read it last winter and was fascinated; it’s one of those books where the setting becomes another character. And the characters jump out at you – guilt-ridden DI Thomas, snappy Ann Collins and motherless pre-teen Sky are a formidable trio. Here’s Danielle to tell us more.
Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Linda. Snow Light is my debut crime novel, published by Bloodhound Books.
Now let me take you to the magical world of Snow Light… or how a Detective Inspector became entangled in the Christmas traditions and the past of a little village tucked away in the mountains…
The story of Snow Light is set in the pre-Christmas season in the beautiful Ore Mountains, which are located in the south of Saxony (Germany) and border on Bohemia (Czech Republic). The highest peak is 1,215m in altitude, so we do have quite a bit of snow as well as long, harsh winters.
All the places mentioned in Snow Light are real, starting from the house DI Thomas is living in, which is my family home, to the little lakeside cabin the victim owned.
Below is the village of Turtleville where my main protagonist, Detective Inspector Nathaniel Thomas moved to just six months before the story starts – so he’s experiencing the Christmas traditions, unique to this area, for the very first time.
Mineral resources such as silver, tin, and copper, have been found in the Ore Mountains since the fourteenth century. Working long shifts meant that the miners entered their workplace early in the morning, when it was still dark outside, and left late in the evening, when the sun had long settled on the horizon. But to allow them at least some light, fellow citizens crafted wooden arches with candles on top and put them in their windows to illuminate the miners’ journeys home.
The arch is both a symbol for the entrance to the mine as well as a source of comfort and light in the dark season of the year. The tradition has been kept alive, and all citizens of the Ore Mountains proudly put light arches in every window of their houses from the beginning of December until the end of January, immersing the villages in a soft orange glow – one that also calms the troubled mind of DI Nathaniel Thomas.
Another relic from Ore Mountain history is a wooden, turning object – a Christmas pyramid. Pyramids come in all sizes – large ones made to withstand the biting cold are placed in the middle of the market squares in small villages, and smaller wooden versions receive a special place in the living rooms of each home.
Often, they are more than a hundred years old and were carefully crafted by our great-grandfathers.
This is the pyramid from Turtleville, and the exact place where the murder victim was found.
You can find carved animals of the forest, miner figurines carrying hammers, mallets, and ores, as well as different other occupational groups from a bygone era.
Every Advent weekend there are ‘mountain tattoos’ in various towns where members dress up as miners, play music and remember the hardships these people had to endure.
Maybe you’d like to experience this mystical place yourself, with its magical Christmas markets offering mulled wine, its soothing lights and welcoming people?
But if you’re not one for the cold and wet weather – it’s equally picturesque in spring, summer and autumn:
Thank you, Danielle! All that makes me want to hop on a ferry across Lake Constance and take the train to the Ore Mountains!
Here’s the blurb to Snow Light:
When Detective Inspector Nathaniel Thomas encounters a man attacking a young woman in a local park, the DI is unable to save her. Out of guilt, Thomas quits his job at Homicide Headquarters and relocates to the tiny village of Turtleville, where he regains control of himself and begins to enjoy life again.
However, a year later, all the guilt and shame of the park murder re-emerges when a local hermit, Ethan Wright, is murdered with an unusual weapon and left on display in the centre of the village.
For Thomas the situation gets worse when DS Ann Collins, a colleague from his past, appears to help with the case. But things become complicated when the victim’s identity is put into question.
Who is the victim? And why was he murdered?
Thomas and Collins will find themselves trying to solve a highly unusual case and both may have more in common than they could ever have imagined.
Danielle holds a BA (Hons) degree in Business and Management from New College Durham and after gaining some work experience in Wales and the USA, she settled down in Frankfurt am Main where she works as a Financial Controller at an IT Consultancy.
Born and raised in a small village in the Ore Mountains/Germany, Danielle was introduced to the world of English literature and writing from an early age on through her mother – an English teacher.
Her passion for sports, especially skiing and fencing, stems from her father’s side. Danielle draws her inspiration for writing from long walks in the country as well as circumnavigating the globe and visiting her friends scattered all over the world.
Mix everything together and you get “Snow Light”, her debut detective thriller combining a stunning wintry setting in the Ore Mountains with unique traditions, some sporty action and lots of suspense.
We’ll finish with the photo of ‘Turtleville’ again – Crottendorf in real life!