By Josephine Greenland
Two siblings investigate the slaughter of reindeer in northern Sweden.
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Embers is a contemporary, YA detective novel set in northern Sweden, where The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time meets Scandi Noir such as Cecilia Ekbäck’s Wolf Winter. The methodical deduction of the crime and dynamic, humorous relationship between siblings Ellen and Simon is contrasted against the bleak landscape of northern Sweden and the mysticism of Sami folklore.
17-year-old Ellen Blind travels to Svartjokk, a small town in northern Sweden, with her brother Simon, a 14-year-old with Aspergers and obsession with detective stories. They’re on a holiday arranged by their parents, who claim that the siblings should bond, visit the birthplace of their late grandfather, Lars-Erik, and discover their Sami roots. Ellen, though, knows that her parents also want them out of the way so they can sort out their marital problems. The holiday turns upside down when the siblings discover reindeer heads in the forest. Simon’s findings at the scene suggest the reindeer have been poisoned. Frustrated with the police’s lack of interest, Simon is determined to find the perpetrator. Ellen reluctantly helps him. investigation takes them to the local Sami village and the owner of the dead reindeer, Per-Anders Thomasson. It turns out that Per-Anders knows far more about the Lars-Erik’s past than the siblings did, and the more they learn, the more Ellen suspects that the reindeer killing is somehow connected to their grandfather. Embers of the past rarely burn out.
Embers is my attempt to depict the realities often present in isolated, remote communities where extremist beliefs easily root themselves, and to raise awareness about animal abuse - a subject particularly relevant considering the importance of the environment and animal welfare in contemporary society. A lot of hate crime committed against the Sami in northern Scandinavia often goes unnoticed by media, and so my book acts as a mouthpiece for their voices. Embers explores how violence is created, suggests that violence can be the sum of multiple people’s behaviour, and be born from loneliness. It explores in what ways long-kept secrets affect family relationships, particularly that between parents and their children, and therefore touches upon subject matters relevant to both teenagers and adults. Ultimately, Embers suggests that the only way to resolve issues of trust and recover from violence is for people to recognise one another and let no one remain ignored.
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Josephine Greenland is a Swedish-English writer from Eskilstuna, Sweden. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham and a BA in English from the University of Exeter. Embers is her first novel and was written during her MA course. It is based on her own travels in northern Sweden two years ago with her brother. She is the winner of the 2019 Bumble Bee Flash Fiction Competition by Pulp Literature, the 2017 Fantastic Female Fables Competition by Fantastic Books Publishing, and also the runner-up in the 2018 Summer Solstice Competition by Wild Words. Her fiction and poetry has appeared in Dream Catcher, Literary Yard, Soft Cartel Mag, Plum Tree Tavern, Porridge Magazine, Litro and AHF Magazine. She has also been highly commended in competitions by TSS Publishing and Cinnamon Press. In 2017, she was awarded the Young Writer’s Bursary by Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival. In August 2019, Josephine will begin a PGDE course at the University of Edinburgh to become a Secondary English teacher. When not writing or teaching, she enjoys playing the violin, running and hiking.
‘Just a bit further, please!’
Ellen wanted to yank her brother off his bike. They’d been cycling all day, darting up and down the roads, crisscrossing past museums, rivers and parks. Her top was plastered against her skin, and her legs ached from the exercise. The day was so bright it hurt her eyes merely looking straight ahead.
‘Ten minutes,’ she called. ‘Then we must go back.’
Simon nodded and turned off the main road, heading down the forest track. Ellen lingered by the turn-off, taking the chance to catch her breath. The path, a two-furrow track probably used by tractors, forged dead straight through the pines. She’d be able to keep an eye on her brother from here.
Exactly what it was about this place that excited him so much she struggled to see. The town was like the palm of one’s hand; after ten minutes you could navigate it with your eyes closed. It was a transit point, a place you passed through on the way to somewhere else.
There will be plenty to see there, Ellen! Mum had told her. The mining museum, the local history, the Sami…
So far, the mining museum was closed. The history museum showed the same kind of How-did-people-live-in-the-past exhibitions with model villages, hunters and stuffed animals that you could see in any town. The Sami, well they’d be with the reindeer in the forest and on the moors. Or did Mum really think they would stand by the station in their traditional clothes, waving at the tourists getting off the train?
She’d booked the siblings in for five nights. Five nights of counting trees and iron ore mines. Perhaps Simon was excited now, but once the novelty of this place wore off…
Ellen stopped her thoughts. Simon had got off his bike and was kneeling on the ground at the edge of the track.
Had he seen something? An animal, an insect?
‘Simon, your ten minutes are up!’
That wasn’t true. Looking at her watch, she guessed five or six minutes had gone, and if Simon had heard her, he would tell her so. But what she needed now was his attention and she did not care if her inaccuracy irked him.
- 29th December 2019 Hi... I'm back!
Hope you had a lovely Christmas!
It's been a busy time at university for me with my first placement at a school, finishing the first draft of my second novel, and celebrating Christmas with family. I ust recetnyl realised I hadn't posted an update here in nearly two months... shame on me!
Embers is now fully in production and has been received by Unbound's editing team…1st September 2019 100% Funded!
Hey guys, so....
I did it! 79 days after launching I hit target and the £5500 are raised!
I would like to give a massive thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way. Your enthusiasm and help have meant a lot to me. A special thank you to those unknown pledgers I do not know persoanlly who contributed, you gave me a very welcome and happy surprise through your support.
The next…17th August 2019 92% !!!
After an unusually long absence due to moving to Edinburgh and installing myself in my new flat I've finally remembered to make an update on the crowdfunding process. We've hit 92%, which means there's only £400 left before the finish line! It feels unreal that I'm so close to hitting target and can start to imagine what the next stages in the publishing process will be like. Needless to say, the…1st August 2019 81% !!!
81 down, 19 to go. We're starting to see the end now, very exciting to see my novel getting ever closer to publication. If any of you know someone who'd be interesred in supporting me, let them know. Spread the word! It would be amazing to see more people, rather than less, to pledge towards the end.
Josephine x24th July 2019 70%!
Finally reached 70%, 2/3 of the way, 1/3 left to go. And I still have 50 days remaining to hit target! This does not mean it's time to sit back and relax, though. If you have considered pledging but have not had the time yet to do it, now is the time. I still need all the support I can get to make it the rest of the way. And if you pledge, you get your name in the book. So are you with me for the…18th July 2019 61% !!!
barely five weeks in and already 61%! I feel like I am repeating myself but have to say thank you once again to have everyone who has supported me. the fact that all of you are willing to donate to help make this dream, my dream, reality, means such trmendous amaount to me. You're all in my thoughts whenever I check my Unbound page :)
X9th July 2019 51% !!!
In just under four weeks I have reached just over 50% of the funding target. If I keep this progress up my novel will be funded by early/middle August! Thank you so much to all supporters who have helped me get to this stage! Xxx :)5th July 2019 100 Backers
Thanks so much for the currently 100 backers supporting my novel. I am truly graetful to all of you! The question now is: will I be able to reach 200 backers?! :)26th June 2019 30% !!!
More or less one third of the way in my campaign now! Unbound reckon that if you reach 30% in the first thirty days your project is likely to fund. Just 12 days in, it's looking good for Embers this far!22nd June 2019 25 %
Thank you all for helping me reach 25% in just 8 days. I'm blown away by the support. :)
Josephine19th June 2019 20% !!!
Only six days of funding and already I've hit 20%! 1/5 of the way to target! Thank you so much to everyone who has pledged, here's to hoping the next 20% go just as swiftly. This crowdfunding business is definitely time consuming but worth every minute!
Josephine x :)14th June 2019 First Day - 12 %
The first day of the campaign is barely over, and already I've hit 12%! I am so amazed and grateful for your support, it's truly blown me away! Reaching out to people and asking them to give money to my book was at times harder than I thought. It is a very personal thing, especially if you're contacting an old friend from school or wrok you've fallen out of touch with during the years. When those…
These people are helping to fund Embers.