A couple of early readers of The Mountain Story have asked if I’m a big mountain climber—a natural question since I’ve written a novel about being lost in the mountain wilderness of California’s second tallest mountain. Alas, I’m not a big mountain climber. Not even a little one. I have severe motion sickness, and some vertigo, and sporadic fear of heights, and chronic fear of getting lost. Taking the near-vertical rotating tram from the scorching desert up to Mount San Jacinto’s sub-alpine wilderness at eight thousand feet was the courage equivalent of climbing Annapurna for me. The first time, I was with my husband, Milan, and even though I’d taken a large dose of motion sickness prevention, when the gondola hit the first transition tower and started to swing I thought I was going to lose it. Trembling, nauseated, I squeezed my eyes shut and squatted on the rotating floor, assuring Milan that I would never be making the trip again.
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I used to think that launching a book was a little like giving birth. My memories of my first novel, Rush Home Road, are enmeshed with the births of my children. I was pregnant with my first child when I wrote the book. My husband read it in the days before I gave birth and we discussed the fine points while I was in labor. Nearly a year later, I nursed my feverish son in front of a dozen people in the boardroom at a major New York publisher. I was pregnant again, with my daughter, by the time of the book’s debut, and gave birth while I was still doing events.