Brian, what was it like living with the man who created arguably
the most celebrated science fiction novel of all time?
My father was very much a disciplinarian. His father was a
deputy sheriff, highway patrol, here in Washington State. So, his own father
laid the discipline down on him and he laid it on me pretty good. I certainly
didn't come off it for the worst, though. A lot of people come up to me at
signings after reading
Dune and say, "It was nice that you got to get close to your
My mother and father met at the University of Washington. They
were the only writers in the class who'd sold a story. She'd sold a romance
story and he'd sold an adventure story. That's really how they were--she was
the romantic and he was the adventurer. Early in the marriage, my mother gave
up her writing career. She had writing skills but gave them up for his
Did he read to you from Dune
as you grew up?
He didn't read me bedtime stories. I had to overhear it. My dad
was an incredible storyteller and I used to eavesdrop. I'd listen to all these
great stories and then try to retell them to my school class for show &
tell. Sometimes they were a bit off-color, too.
is to science fiction what
The Lord of the Rings
is to fantasy." --Brian
Did you enjoy Dune
when you first read it?
I thought it was the greatest book I'd ever read. I could not
believe I'd missed it. I like to say I helped him write it by staying out of
the way. I could identify with the relationship between Duke Leto and Paul. Dad
would say he was proud of me but didn't tell me directly; he'd tell other
Kevin, how did you get involved in the Dune
Kevin J. Anderson:
Brian was considering doing more Dune books for 10 years, but
Dune ends with such a heartwarming dedication to his mom, who
died during its writing, he wanted to leave it there. Before that, Frank had
talked to Brian about doing a Butlerian Jihad book, but because of scheduling
problems and Frank's career, they didn't get to do it. The years passed and
lots of writers approached Brian to do these, but Brian had put them all off.
Understandably to me, as it's not something you'd take lightly. These are big
Finally, he'd agreed to edit a collection of stories set in the
Dune universe, and I was one of the people invited to write for
it. At the same time I was also a huge Dune
I first got Dune
when I was 10 but didn't read it
for the first time until I was 12. It's 400 pages long! But it had this cool
picture of a sandworm on the cover. When I finally read it, I was blown away.
Then I read it again in college and was blown away again.
Kevin told me when we first started getting together that he went
back and read it again and was wondering if it would hold up after so long.
And it did! I reread it every time we're going to do a
Dune book. Dune
has so many different layers to
it that it's never the same as the last time you read it.
Dad used to say you could read Dune
on so many
layers. It's just a masterful novel. He always said, "If you have a pot full of
messages, you want to layer it. Don't bore your readers."
"I've written Star Wars stories, and
that's pretty big stuff, and I did some X-Files books. So I was
used to walking on sacred ground, but Dune
was an order of magnitude
different." --Kevin J. Anderson
So, back to the question, Kevin. How did you sign on to write the
prequels with Brian?
I always write with a tape recorder, often while I'm backpacking.
I was wandering around Death Valley and got to thinking about
You got mad at me that day, didn't you?
I was wondering why Brian didn't finish the story, whether he was
ever going to finish the Dune story. I wondered if he was ever
going to finish it, or if I could pick it up and finish it.
So I sent him a letter. The first sentence was "What you just
heard was a shot in the dark." He waited a month or two before calling me up,
and his worst fears were confirmed because we hit it right off. Right away we
started riffing on things. My wife said, "You guys started talking another
language after just five minutes on the phone together."
Originally we were talking about capping off the end of
. But it had been so long since
that we felt that if we jumped into it the story
might seem out of place. We needed something to reawaken interest in
itself. So we came up with doing an immediate prequel with
the familiar characters.
Have you found that your books spark new interest in other Frank
Herbert books besides the original Dune
People are reading ours and then they go back and read the other
Frank Herbert books. I get so many letters from folks saying, "I was never able
to read the others, but now I've gone back and I love them."
"It's not as good as Frank Herbert writing the story,
but it's as good as anyone can do right now." --Brian Herbert
Did Frank Herbert leave any notes or an outline that you've used
to write the prequels?
Years after my father passed away we got a call from the attorney
who handled his estate, saying that they'd found two safe-deposit keys. We were
thinking maybe there were some jewels in there or something. But it turned out
that there's nothing of value in there… but the notes for Dune 7
Then Brian was cleaning out his garage to make an office space and
he found all these boxes that had "Dune Notes" on the side. And we used a lot
of them for our House books.
Dad always called my mother a "white witch." Then, after Kevin and I
met, I got the call about the safe-deposit boxes. Then I found the notes. I
felt that my mom was making sure Kevin and I got along and was watching over
Science fiction readers can be pretty fanatical about stories
they've come to love. What's the fan reaction been like for these new
I've written Star Wars stories, and that's pretty
big stuff, and I did some X-Files books. So I was used to
walking on sacred ground, but Dune
was an order of magnitude
is to science fiction what The Lord of
is to fantasy.
There was a lot of reaction. "How can you do this?" There was a
fan group on the Internet that decided we shouldn't do this. There were 60 of
them on Amazon and they put 60 one-star reviews up saying, "We don't even have
to read them." I was the Dummy of Dune
and Brian was the
But after they read the books they apologized. We actually got
apology letters. The fans immediately started saying thank you for continuing
the series. They love the Dune universe, and they just don't want
us to foul it up.
Writing a novel with two authors seems like such an awkward task.
How did you manage it?
You have to check your ego at the door.
We get together twice a year and spend a weekend brainstorming. We
write each other. We talk it out. I have a physics degree so the more
scientific stuff, the world-building stuff, is mine. The more philosophical
stuff is Brian's because he has a degree in comparative religion.
Our writing styles are similar, so that helps, too. We send chapters
back and forth by computer and make changes to it. Because it's on the computer
there's no red pen marking it up.
These go back and forth 12 or 13 times. We're confident that when
you read them you won't be able to tell who wrote what chapters.
We have a ghostwriter, too. We had all those notes of Dad's. He's
Would Frank Herbert have enjoyed the prequels?
It's not as good as Frank Herbert writing the story, but it's as
good as anyone can do right now. We're not going to milk this. We're not going
to carry on too far. We still feel the great passion, the great energy for the