What's in a name?

Gabriella's year 4 Adélie Penguin

Gabriella's year 4 Adélie Penguin

People often ask why I wrote this particular book. It's a difficult question to answer! For me, it all started with wanting to write a romance involving environmental issues. The environmental aspect was to be climate change. But how to weave this into an upbeat romance? As soon as I had my characters the process wasn't too difficult - though I have numerous folders on environmental science and historical figures that have been condensed from hundreds of pages to mere paragraphs (and emails, posts and texts - you'll see what I mean when you read the book). I knew something about the legal regulation of climate change through work I'd done in this area, but I had a lot more work to do!

At first I thought my female protagonist would be an environmental scientist and I honestly can't remember when she became an environmentalist. Something to do with looking out for whales in Antarctica I think. So Harriet is an environmentalist who cares about global warming and the effect it's having on the planet.

National Geographic  November 2015

National Geographic November 2015

How about my male lead? This is where the whole Scott and Amundsen idea came about. The first manuscript I ever wrote (still a work in progress - now called On the Same Page) has a Norwegian male lead called Lars. I wrote 135 000 words of that manuscript without giving him a last name. Looking for inspiration I googled Norwegian surnames and came up with Amundsen, and a reference to well known Amundsens. One of them was Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole. Norway was forging it's identity as an independent nation in the early 1900's (when Roald Amundsen's expeditions took place) - he is very well known not only in Norway, but (in the context of exploration, anyway!) around the world. I not only thought Amundsen would be a good surname for Lars, it sparked another idea for the climate change story that had been doing cartwheels in my mind for months. The end result was that my male lead for In at the Deep End would not only be a climate scientist but a naval officer (like Roald Amundsen) and the South Pole would feature!

My female lead Harriet became a Scott, namesake of the second man to the South Pole, the Englishman Robert Falcon Scott. I knew about Scott partly because my grandmother was a great fan. She read Elspeth Huxley's 1977 biography Scott of the Antarctic a number of times (her fond memories of him are why I kept the biography - even though I'd never read it until I started writing this book). So I guess Scott could easily have led me to Amundsen instead of the other way around. 

Australian Geographic July-Sept 2001 at 76

Australian GeographicJuly-Sept 2001 at 76

It was natural for Harriet and Per to meet in Antarctica's Southern Ocean. And everything that happens next flows from this setting. So … Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen, Harriet Scott and Per Amundsen. For me, the names started it all!

Elspeth Huxley,  Scott of the Antarctic , Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1977

Elspeth Huxley, Scott of the Antarctic, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1977