In anticipation of his reading/signing next month (I know, I probably should have waited to post this, but I couldn’t resist!) on Wednesday, May 28th, at 7 p.m. for his new book, Dead Lucky, we asked author and mountaineer Lincoln Hall to answer a few questions. I should mention that Lincoln is my new hero, and if I weren’t so excited about going to BEA, I would be really sincerely upset that it is making me miss his event. No, I take it back — despite being excited about BEA, I am sad. So I will console myself with this fantastic interview!
TKE: When did you first know you wanted to: climb mountains? write books? Were these two ambitions connected to each other initially, or did that come later?
Lincoln Hall: Sometimes as a child in grade school I was asked to write two pages but wouldn’t stop until I’d write ten, such was my passion for writing. This was encouraged by my mother who wrote satire for our local newspaper. When I discovered rockclimbing at the age 15 I was immediately hooked, but I had no interest in mountaineering. Then one climb led to the next, which led ultimately led to climbing difficult mountains in New Zealand, then Himalaya, the Andes, Antarctica and elsewhere.
I wrote my first book when was 22 years old and recovering from frostbite received during my first Himalayan expedition in India. I had a great story to tell, but did not tell it well enough to get published. Six years later I wrote a book about my first attempt on Everest which became a bestseller, so I was on the road to being a writer. My next book was a novel, so while I get great satisfaction from conveying the other reality of mountaineering, I also enjoy exploring different themes through fiction.
TKE: In Dead Lucky, you talk about your family, the tensions between being a father and husband and a mountaineer, and your struggle to unite these parts of yourself. Do you feel that there are any ways that these things complement each other?
LH: I was a dedicated climber for over 15 years before I become a father and a husband. Climbing strengthened my character and my honesty (kid yourself in the high mountains and you die). Climbing also strengthened my spirituality and my belief in the power of commitment. All these were good things to bring to a marriage and family life. The irony of my 2006 Everest experience is that I am a very safe climber. On three other occasions have turned back while my companions pushed onto the summits of major peaks. I was prepared to push the boundaries when I was single and childless, but I reined myself in once I had met Barbara, who became my wife. When things went bad on Everest, the lessons of my wild climbing years stayed with me and contributed to my ability to survive, as did the power of love, which proved stronger than any obstacle.
TKE: You are someone who has gone beyond the limits of normal human endurance, and come back. Any advice on coping with challenges not just in extraordinary circumstances, but in every day life?
LH: These days I do a lot motivational speaking. I tell people that lessons from the mountains are more potent than those of every day life because your life lies on the line, but the lessons are the same. For instance, when something really matters to you, the first rule is never give up. If you give up in the face of desperate odds, then that’s the end of the road for you. But if you don’t give up, you’re in there with a chance.
Lincoln Hall will be at The King’s English Bookshop on Wednesday, May 28th at 7 p.m. for his new book Dead Lucky.