I hadn't heard of Geraldine McCaughrean, apart from the fact that she had been chosen by Great Ormond Street Hospital to write the sequel to Peter Pan - Peter Pan In Scarlet, which I'm planning to read one day.
However, Vikki Gemmell left a comment on my blog about Captain Oates, saying that she'd been given The White Darkness, about a girl who had Captain Oates in her head giving her advice, but Vikki had never finished it. That intrigued me, and being a fan of Oates myself, ever since I heard at the age of seven that he walked outside his tent in Antarctica so his fellow explorers wouldn't be hampered by his injuries, never to be seen again, I had to read it.
This book, published in 2005, was a worthy winner of the Whitbread Children's Book Award, but it is a book that would appeal to adults as well as children.
It's about Sym who's kidnapped by Uncle Victor and taken on a South Pole expedition, not to retrace Scott and Oates's journey, but to find a hole which he believes leads to worlds which exist within the world's crust. Yes, he is bonkers, but it is only as the story unfolds that Sym realises this and things fall into place. Whilst all the time, Captain Oates talks to her, helping as much as he can, but only with reference to his life which ended in 1912.
Geraldine's storytelling is superb. Her knowledge of everything from Antarctic exploration to the Bronte sisters is amazing. I wish that I had half her knowledge!
The White Darkness refers to the fact that with all the snow and mist at the South Pole, you might as well be in the dark, because you can't see anything around you. This reminded me of the Antony Gormley exhibition at The Hayward Gallery which I visited in 2007 where he had installed a large glass cube that you could enter, filled with tiny water droplets, finer than a cloud, called Blind Light. People entered and disappeared within two paces: dark shadows progressively sinking into the cloud. I actually used this idea in writing Gipsy Moth when Ben's plane crashes in the "white inpenetrable fog".
The White Darkness is available on Amazon, have you read it yet?