Brainstorming HELLHOLE INFERNO with Brian Herbert

A week ago, I flew up to the Seattle area to spend several days with Brian Herbert so we could immerse ourselves in plotting HELLHOLE INFERNO, the finale to our Hellhole trilogy.  We do this for each book. Since we live far apart (Brian in Washington state, me in Colorado), we need the intense face-to-face brainstorming that lets us bring out the best in the story.

I had prepared by rereading HELLHOLE and HELLHOLE AWAKENING, not to mention finishing several weeks on the road signing copies of HELLHOLE AWAKENING.  I reloaded the characters, the plot lines, and the settings in my imagination (sometimes, I think I have too many universes in my head), re-read our original proposal for the trilogy, and I was ready to go.

During the Seattle stop for the HELLHOLE AWAKENING tour and my guest appearance at Norwescon, Brian and I had already spent an afternoon mapping out the main structure of NAVIGATORS OF DUNE—but that won’t be until next year.  Now that we have that story sketched out, we could devote our energies to developing the blueprint for HELLHOLE INFERNO.

We spent the days holed up in the office brainstorming, walking several trails and brainstorming, going out to dinner and brainstorming, and even took a few hours off one evening to see the new film Oblivion.  We got the main plot points hammered out quickly enough, but the Hellhole trilogy has plenty of side stories and unexpected twists. Each time we fleshed out one storyline, it connected with a different one and gave us new ideas.  Even up to the last morning, at breakfast in a hole-in-the-wall cafe, we still had new breakthroughs.  By the time I got back to the airport to fly home, I had many files of notes, and spent several hours in the lounge and on the plane just organizing the myriad events.

It was an exhilarating experience, as it always is.  HELLHOLE INFERNO will be the 16th book Brian and I have done together.

photos by Janet Herbert

And when we took a break from the Hellhole universe, we discussed some of the final editing changes to the MENTATS OF DUNE manuscript.  I had been working on it for a couple of months, and it’s nearly finished.  I gave the manuscript to Brian for his final edit, and then it goes off to our editor. MENTATS OF DUNE will be published next spring. HELLHOLE INFERNO is due out in Fall 2014.