Kieran's Christmas and New Year Newsletter
January 1, 1970Hi everyone,
With the holiday season upon us, I figured it's finally time for the first edition of my newsletter: an end-of-year wrap-up and a look ahead to 2003.
It seems scarcely believable, but this time twelve months ago I was on a ship in the Southern Ocean, grinding through sea ice and trying to keep up with a fleeing whaling fleet. It was December 23 2001 that the whalers finally gave us the slip after tiring of our efforts to disrupt their hunting; eight days later, on New Year's Eve, the Australian government ship "Aurora Australis" found them again and told us where to go get them, giving us one more shot at them before the whaling season ended.
After a bizarrely warm winter, the temperature in Alaska is finally settling in for something closer to normal, and we're all set for a cold, white Christmas -- although not as cold or as white as we might have hoped. So in that respect, things aren't much different from a year ago, although at least there's no rocking and rolling in Force 12 storms, and the ground below us is mostly stable -- as long as we don't have any more earthquakes like the 7.9 that hit us a couple of months ago.
The book about my ten years of Antarctic adventures, chasing after the whaling fleet, will be published in April/May next year. The manuscript is all done, as much as a manuscript is ever done; all that remains is the copy editing process, and my (ahem!) favorite part of writing a book: laboriously trawling through the proof pages to prepare an index. I'm pretty happy with the way the book has worked out, and Island Press seems enthusiastic about its prospects, too. We are tentatively looking at a publicity tour of seven or eight cities, focused around college towns: probably something like Chicago, Boston, NYC, DC, Denver/Boulder, LA, San Francisco/Berkeley/Oakland, Portland, and Seattle. This book has had an incredibly long genesis: it's quite something to think that it is all finally about to reach fruition.
In the meantime, I'm working on another project about which I am just as proud. Island has the rights to "Alone," by Richard Byrd, originally published almost seventy years ago, and is reissuing it as a Shearwater paperback in February. I am writing an afterword/biographical note, which is a real honor: it's quite something for me to think that my name will be on the cover of a book next to an Antarctic hero of the caliber of Richard Byrd.
For those who don't know: Byrd was probably the first person to fly to the North Pole, and was definitely the first person to fly to the South Pole. He was almost the first person to fly non-stop across the Atlantic, and but for an accident during a test flight, probably would have been. (In the event, he was third). He was the first person ever to be honored with two tickertape parades in New York City, and in the late 1920s and early 1930s was so famous and celebrated that, when Clyde Tombaugh discovered a new planet on the edge of our Solar System, there were those who proposed it should be named Byrd.
On his second Antarctic expedition in 1933-35, Byrd attempted to be the first to spend a winter in Antarctica alone. However, he became poisoned by the fumes from his kerosene stove and nearly died; despite his efforts to hide his condition, the men at base camp knew something was amiss and launched a daring mid-winter rescue across the Ross Ice Shelf. This is the story detailed in "Alone"; it is one of the greatest Antarctic books -- one of the greatest adventure books, period -- ever published.
The joy of being a freelance author is that I get to work the hours I choose. The downside of being a freelance author is that I have to work very long hours, and so after allowing myself a brief break over Christmas, it'll be back to work preparing proposals for the next round of books. I am hoping to put together a multi-book deal so that I have some kind of guaranteed income for the next few years. If it all works out, my newsletter subscribers will be the first to hear about it.
I hope this finds everyone well. Best wishes to you all for the holiday season, and keep checking in to the website for news and updates.
All the best,