Sandworms of Dune

Saturday, August 4, 2007



Quandary Peak

The Big Finish: Seven Suns and Paul of Dune 

SANDWORMS OF DUNE comes out on Tuesday. I leave home and fly up to Seattle on Monday to start our weeks of books signings, and so it was imperative that I wrap up some of the major projects around here.

On Wednesday I finally finished my third edit on the manuscript for THE ASHES OF WORLDS. I've been working on this edit for about a month and a half, and all the pieces seem to be fitting together very well. I e-mailed the 673-page manuscript off to my Warner editor Jaime Levine at about 8 PM in the evening. She will be reading and commenting on the book, giving me revisions to work on during the month that Rebecca and I are in Australia and New Zealand for our "Seven Suns" signing tour.

I've worked for nearly eight years on this series, and ASHES is the final volume, wrapping up all the plotlines I've planned from the beginning. It's been a very long marathon, both exhausting and exhilarating, and tough to say goodbye to many of my favorite characters (good guys and bad guys . . . and not all of them survive to the last page!).

Today I managed to go out for my last big hike of the summer, since I'll be gone on travel for the rest of August and September. Taking my digital recorder, I also knew I needed to dictate my last four chapters in PAUL OF DUNE, because once I start on the SANDWORMS tour there will be very little time for writing.

Every year for the past eleven years I have climbed at least one "Fourteener," or 14,000-ft peak in Colorado. I had to make sure I fit one in around my other travel commitments. Today, I hiked up Quandary Peak (14,365 ft) in perfect weather, but with far too many other hikers -- it reminded me of a line at Starbucks.

On the way, I walked along a sweeping open ridge at about 13,000 ft, far above treeline, where the path is reasonably level, until it takes a sharp steep turn for a more difficult and rocky ascent for the last half mile or so. This is the spot where many novice hikers turn around. I came upon two college-age girls who had stopped there. One was talking on her cell phone and hung up as I approached. Both of them were weeping -- not just sniffling, but really crying with tears streaming down their faces. One sat down on the rocks, looking shaken.

I immediately asked them if they needed help -- you don't mess around if somebody's having trouble at 13,000 feet. One of the girls just shook her head and held up the phone. "Cell phones aren't always a good thing." They explained that a friend of theirs had been battling cancer for a couple of years. While they were sitting on that ridge, deciding whether or not to summit, they'd just received a call telling them that their friend had died the night before. "If she was fighting cancer for two years, we can make it to the peak. We've *got* to make it to the peak." And they pushed on and made it to the summit, writing something about their friend in the logbook that all climbers sign at the top.

I did get my last four PAUL chapters dictated, but I was far more moved by the sadness and grace those two young women showed.

-- KJA


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