Sunday, December 14, 2014

Winter Paranormal Week -- Jack Frost

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

Welcome to Here Be Magic’s Winter Paranormal Week! I’ll be kicking things off with a post on Jack Frost, but please check back throughout the week to find out about the Holly King and other figures.


The original Jack Frost was a mischievous pixie who carves feathery fern patterns on windows and nipped the noses of children. He appears in several poems published in the 1800s.

Hollywood has produced numerous Jack Frosts, including two snowmen. In Santa Clause 3, Frost is a petulant villain played by Martin Short. More recently, in Rise of the Guardians, Jack Frost is a pretty preteen boy who skates around and grows from a loner to a hero.

 My version is nothing like those.

In my YA novel, Frost, Jack Frost is the least of his names. He is Cold and Nothing and Void. He lives in the Arctic, and he schemes to bring back the days when glaciers blanketed the earth. 

Cover by Relish Design Studios
I think my decision to make Frost my villain lies in the fact that I grew up on a farm in Northern Alberta. Every year, it seemed we would get hit with a week of -40 temperatures. (Fun fact, -40 Celsius is the same as -40 Fahrenheit.) And because this happened every year, instead of curling up in our warm beds, we would have to go out in it. Specifically, I would have to go stand out at the end of the driveway and wait for the school bus. I would wear tall winter boots, ski pants, long parka, large mitts over top of gloves, toque, scarf, the whole deal—and still freeze.

The return of the ice age felt VERY possible. Winter was not cute. Winter was deadly. And yes, here in Canada, winter is always coming.

Frost is set even further north in Nunavut, the newest Canadian territory, in the booming town of Iqaluit on Baffin Island. Although I never managed to convince my husband to vacation up there in December like I wanted to (go figure) I had a lot of fun researching living in the Arctic and throwing every kind of winter disaster I could think of at my characters. There’s a ski-mobile accident, a car goes through the ice on a frozen lake, a polar bear attacks, someone falls into a crevasse, there’s a blizzard, and of course, with every chapter the days grow shorter and the thermometer keeps plummeting…

The following is an excerpt from a game of Crack-the-whip which goes horribly wrong…

After practice, Cheryl found out why Johnny had gotten her to take her skates.  About half the team and Tracy and Cheryl hung around for a game of Crack-the-whip.  Since Cheryl didn't have a helmet, Johnny insisted on giving her his and going bareheaded himself.
Minik and a husky defenseman formed the anchor in the centre of the ice for the game to pivot around.  Everyone joined hands, making a line of nine.  Johnny linked first, then Cheryl.  She ended up third from the whip end.
Everyone skated in a large circle around the pivot.  After two complete rotations, the line had picked up enough momentum that Cheryl didn't have to skate.  She was pulled along by the other skaters in a dizzying circle.  The farther down the chain you were, the faster you went and the farther you travelled.
A small scream escaped Cheryl as they swung round the first corner, largely drowned out by Brendan's whoop and Tracy's louder shriek.  Johnny pulled on Cheryl's left hand, and Tracy pulled on her right.  Cheryl struggled to hold on, but Tracy began to slip free.  For a heart-stopping moment, Cheryl thought she would go with Tracy, but Johnny's grip on her hand stayed strong, almost bruisingly so.  "I've got you."
Tracy and Brendan sailed free.  Brendan braked easily, but, like Cheryl, Tracy had never mastered the T-stop and had to put out her arms to avoid smashing into the boards.  Then they quickly skated to center ice and joined the pivot end of the chain to become pullers.
Cheryl found herself at the end of the line; both the most dangerous and most thrilling position on the chain.  At its end Cheryl got the benefit of the widest swing, but if anyone's grip broke she would go flying.
"Switch grips," Johnny shouted as they headed into the next corner.
Obediently, Cheryl locked her fingers around Johnny's wrist, and Johnny did the same to her wrist, resulting in a stronger double-grip.  She needed it.  At the end of the line, the speed was faster, increasing the strain on her arm.
She was smiling, laughing even, when somebody halfway up the stands caught her eye.  Sharp white face, pointy chin, silver hair like dripping icicles and pit-dark eyes.
The line pulled her away before she could be sure, but Cheryl was instinctively certain it was The Stranger.  She looked back, but couldn't spot him again.
Couldn't, that is, until she faced forward and saw him standing a quarter of the way around the rink from where he'd been moments ago, only this time he was closer to ice level.
He was looking at her.  There was nothing of mercy in his eyes.  No human warmth, not even anger.
A shock of cold went through Cheryl.  "Johnny," she started to say, but Johnny was swearing.  Cheryl's eyes snapped wide-open as the side of the rink loomed in front of them. 
The pullers had misjudged.  Instead of skimming the side of the boards Cheryl was going to crash into them. 
They were going so fast...  She wanted to close her eyes, but kept watching in horror, certain that in a second she would squish against the boards like rotten fruit.  
Then Johnny's grip on her wrist tightened, and he pulled her in closer instead, with inhuman strength.  One of her shoulders touched his, and the other grazed the boards.
They were past. 
Cheryl had just taken a breath of relief when The Stranger appeared on the ice, right in front of her.
She cried out and tried to let go of Johnny, but his fingers bit into her wrist, and it was too late, she ran into The Stranger.  Instead of colliding with him, she went through him--needles of ice pricked her skin, like standing naked in a snowstorm--and screamed again, whipping along so fast, out of control--
Her mitten came off in Johnny's hand.
Cheryl spun off the chain toward the boards.  Whizzing.  Much too fast for Cheryl's simple snowplow to have any effect.  She smashed head-first into the boards.  Her too-large helmet tumbled off.
The last thing she heard was The Stranger's cold laughter.

Buy here

What other versions of Jack Frost have you run across? Which do you prefer?


  1. Awesome excerpt, Nicole. I love how you've interpreted Frost. He definitely personifies Winter to me! But, much as I adore research trips, as a Certified Weather Wimp, I have to confess I'm kinda with your husband on that one!

  2. Thanks!

    I suppose what I need to do is set my next book in Hawaii, then I might get more buy in...


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