Thursday, September 22, 2011

My new mountain book: Why it took five years

Five years after I started my most recent book project, the resulting book is out this week. Would I have done it again? Yes. Am I proud of the result? Yes. Title of the book? A History of Mountains. It is not written in a text-book style, but aimed at the general audience (perhaps best labeled 'creative non-fiction').

By investigating the history of science and the current understanding of the geology of mountains, I tell the story of mountains and what they mean to us. Why are some many people fascinated by them, what is it that we don’t know about mountains, and why are they sacred in many (or perhaps most) parts of the world? What is it that geologists actually know about their birth, evolution and decay? I also present my own experiences, how I got fascinated by mountains and what I saw in the Andes, the Alps, and the Scandinavian mountains during researching for the book. 

As I learnt a lot during the course of the book project, it seems natural to share the lessons with the readers of my blog. So, if you are planning on writing a book yourself, and would like to spend as long time as I did from start to publication, then follow my advices: 
  • After long days at work and after the kids (if you have any) are put to bed, open your laptop and start writing. Being tired is extremely inspiring.
  • Make sure you need to do excessive research, preferable somewhat outside your main field of competence. There is nothing like it.
  • Start writing as soon as possible, as the first chapter will be outdated when the last one is finished five years later.
  • Get in contact with a publisher as soon as you can, as a positive response will ensure that the project is stressed by strict deadlines.
  • If you still head for completion before five years, send the manuscript to colleagues for an informal review.
Being a spare-time non-fiction writer clearly has its challenges.

My remaining challenge: the book is published in the Norwegian, but it will hopefully be available in English at some stage.

(Book cover: Nevado Chopicalqui (6354 meter), Peru. Photo by Alexandre Buisse.)