The idea for the book was foolishly ambitious. If I had known how hard it was going to be, I never would have tried it. But I was not to find this out until it was too late.
The premise was complicated. I wanted to tell two connected stories. The first story was about a young American who inherits a fortune dating from 1924; the second story was about the couple who left him the fortune, an English mountaineer and his lover. The American travels around Europe in search of their story.
I was obsessed with history. I was obsessed with the Great War and the first Everest expeditions, and I believed in some mysterious connection between all the things I was interested in. The plot of my book mixed history with the story of my own travels across Europe. This seemed to give purpose to the years of wandering that had been my twenties.
I would write about what I knew and what I cared about. It did not matter how hard it was. I could work that all out in Berlin.
When I got to Germany I couldn’t just start writing. First I had to worry about THE RESEARCH.