Embers Blog Tour – Guest Post with Linnea Tanner

Stop 5 of the Embers Blog Tour is hosted by historical fiction blogger Linnea Tanner


It is my pleasure to feature Josephine Greenland  as part of The Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour being held from March 18 – May 20, 2021. Josephine Greenland is the author of the Young Adult / Crime / Mystery novel, Embers, which was released by Unbound Publisher on 4 March 2021 (336 pages).


Sami National Flag

There are two main points of inspiration that first triggered me to write Embers back in 2017, during an Arvon writing retreat in Devon, England. The first is the true crime that took place not far from the mining town where my brother and I stayed in northern Sweden during our interrailing holiday the same year. Two teenaged girls discovered a circle of reindeer bodies (decapitated and with their legs chopped off) laid out almost in a ritualistic fashion, in the forest. The culprit was never found. I was shocked and horrified by the gruesomeness of the crime and that anyone in their right mind could commit such an act. This opened my eyes to the hate crime committed against the Sami – the indigenous population of northern Scandinavia and Russia who traditionally made a living out of reindeer herding. I watched two documentaries on Youtube; one by the investigative journalism programme Cold Facts (Kalla Fakta) which discussed the various crimes that reindeer herders have to put up with on a daily basis, and one about the general life of the forest Sami who keep their reindeer in the woods all year round (rather than going up into the mountains during summer), and how their lifestyle is being affected by the forest, infrastructure and iron ore industries.

Traditional Pattern of a Sami Shaman Drum

The other point of inspiration, which gives the novel its mystic character, is Sami folklore. Intrigued by the ritual circle the reindeer bodies had been laid out in the crime, I researched ritual sites and came across the concept of a seit – a holy place – and the shaman drum (which is featured on the book’s front cover, etched into the forest landscape). The drum was traditionally used to predict the future, and featured a map of the cosmos, with the sun in its centre. As is uncovered later in the novel, the sun and its role in Sami religion become of key significance. The symbol, a form of a cross, is also featured in the title on the book cover. The mystical aspect to the crime also impacts the relationship between the siblings. As Ellen and Simon investigate the reindeer killing, they uncover a link to their own Sami heritage from their grandfather, and between the crime scene and Sami folklore. While Ellen is keen to pursue this lead, Simon dismisses it as a distraction from the main investigation.

As well as these two features, the general landscape of northern Sweden with the mountains and the forest was also a key inspiration, as it inspired the depictions of the setting in my novel, and also the dark, brooding, mystic atmosphere.

Lappland Gate near Abisko

Read the original blog post here