In my story about the Portbradden family the setting of the first few chapters is in winter and in a lonely country house, cut off by the snow; written like that it sounds very Agatha Christy-ish, but it isn’t, the action all comes much later… however there is drama from the opening paragraphs as one of the cousins, James Portbradden, driving at night through blizzard conditions to spend Christmas with his family at the house, and introduce them to his new girlfriend, slides off the road and into dangerous freezing water.
We’ve had snow near us, nothing like what the Portbraddens experienced, and nothing like other people in the rest of the UK, but it was enough to make me think of those snowy scenes in my story. We went out to take pictures of the snow and stopped by some woodlands. We were in a natural, steep-sided valley with woodland all around, covered in snow.
It was beautiful! As I walked away from the others I became aware not only of the silence, but of the strange snowy noises which broke the silence, and how different those noises sounded from the usual woodland snaps and crackles and bustles of birds. The sounds came very clearly but there was a muffled quality which made it hard to tell which direction they came from.
In my story a child becomes lost in the snowy wood at night and three people go searching for her, blundering around by torchlight, calling her name. They spread out and become separated and then the strange sounds of snow falling in clumps from branches, echoing snaps of fallen branches beneath their feet magnified but the sound deadened and without echo… The child is found safe and unharmed, she was looking for Father Christmas’s reindeer, but one of the searchers has a gash on his head… maybe he fell, maybe he walked into a low bough, or maybe there was someone else in the wood…