|Sand In My Shoes|
An Interview with Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
|conducted by Sandy Auden|
Frank Herbert's Dune universe is currently expanding under the careful eye of Herbert's son Brian. Working
with fellow author Kevin J. Anderson, they've both been exploring the early worlds of Dune -- first in their
Prelude series and now in their Legends of Dune series, starting with The Butlerian Jihad,
and currently in their latest release The Machine Crusade.
Writing in an existing universe requires a detailed knowledge of the underlying topography to avoid mistakes and Herbert and Anderson understand this fully."With The Legends of Dune, we were constrained by the appendix of Dune," Herbert said. "Frank Herbert laid out in general what had occurred in The Butlerian Jihad -- how there was a human child killed by a Thinking Machine; how this provoked an outpouring of emotion; and the humans rose up to defeat their Thinking Machine masters."
The Holy War started by this event is the driving force of the plot through out the Legends of Dune series and the authors have successfully captured the overall Dune atmosphere. Herbert said, "I did a huge concordance of the six Dune books, so I know all the references to the Butlerian Jihad and what page number they're on, so we included all that information too. I'd also spent five years writing Dad's biography, Dreamer of Dune -- rereading everything he wrote and putting it together with the things he said to me. I hear his voice as I write in his marvelous universe now. And Kevin was inspired by Frank Herbert too and although they never met, Kevin still knows him as far as is possible."
Herbert and Anderson share a comfortable writing partnership and they spend many hours brainstorming plot and characters for each book. "Sometimes we have a story idea and have to create a character to fit the actions," said Anderson. "Other times we have a vivid character who naturally goes in certain directions. We talk out the books in detail and when we divide the chapters, we can usually determine which of us is best suited to write a character or scene. For example, with The Machine Crusade, I fell in love with Selim Wormrider and therefore wrote the first draft of most of those chapters; Brian was particularly fond of Norma Cenva, the scientist, so he took that storyline. But by the time we're done, we've each gone over each other's chapters so many times we own them all jointly."
Herbert continued, "I usually write the first draft of the Erasmus character. Kevin came up with a character -- a Thinking Machine who was researching what it was like to be human -- and I said let's add (the Nazi medical researcher) Dr Mengele to him and make him really dark and strange. Then Kevin laughed and said, 'Boy Brian, I don't know if I can write that, you'd better do it!' He wasn't saying that couldn't write it -- it was just a little dig that only my twisted mind could write that character. So we have a lot of fun. We riff off each other, like a musical performance."
Their next book will be the long awaited Dune 7 story, following on from ChapterHouse: Dune. Herbert said, "We've been brainstorming this one during our Machine Crusade tour. For example, I was talking with Kevin in front of a large audience one night and I suddenly had an epiphany, an idea I thought should be in Dune 7. So I bounced it off Kevin right there in front of the audience and we did some brainstorming. The idea was that even though Frank Herbert referred to the destruction of Dune in Heretics and ChapterHouse, it was never written. So I said to Kevin: why don't we open the first of the Dune 7 books with a dramatic destruction of Dune scene? We started kicking it around and we now agree that it is a good place to start."
Herbert is keeping some of the Dune 7 details quiet though. "We found some of Dad's notes in a safe deposit box that had been locked for eleven years and we've been using them for Dune 7," he said. "We have an advantage over other science fiction series because we can always bring a character back from the dead, as a ghola, because the Tlulaxa can breed human beings out of dead cells." So who will be back from the dead in Dune 7? "Oh that's a closely guarded secret, you'll have to wait and see!"
(This interview first appeared on Sci Fi Channel Europe.)
Sandy Auden is currently working as an enthusiastic reviewer for SFX magazine; a tireless news hound for Starburst magazine; a diligent interviewer/reviewer for The Third Alternative and Interzone magazines and a combination of all the above for The Alien Online. She spends her spare time lying down with a cold flannel on her forehead. Visit her site at The Auden Interviews.
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