I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to climb Mt. Everest , although when I was young I never expected that it was something a girl from Kansas like me could ever grow up to do. Over the years I’ve learned that the world’s highest peak, known as Sagarmatha to those who live near it, has been climbed by the blind, the young (13 years old) and the elderly (an 80 year old holds the current record) and it was always a goal that was attainable by me if I had wanted it badly enough.
I’ve also learned that along with the risk of losing life and limb, such an undertaking involves a huge commitment of time, money and focus that a person might want to spend elsewhere. Guided tours have now commercialized the ascent somewhat, allowing those who can and will to spend more money in exchange for less planning and expertise. I was probably in my early 30’s when I acknowledged that I didn’t want to climb this mountain badly enough to do it by any of the ways available to me.
Why is an author compelled to tell stories? One reason is to experience alternate lives, in which different choices are made and enjoyed. Once it became apparent to me that c3 would take place in the foothills of the Himalayas, I knew that the story had to involve a girl from somewhere near Kansas, who did have the drive and expertise to be that mountain climber.
It serves the story better for my climber, Haley, to ascend Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak. I enjoyed intertwining her training and preparation with the more somber travails of her friends, and near the end of the book when Haley finally stands at the top of the world, I got to stand there with her. As I wrote the scene, I actually cried because what I saw in my head was so beautiful. (It’s okay. I cry a fair amount when I write.)
I hope any reader who has ever wanted to climb to the top of the world like me will enjoy reading this part of the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.