Location. It’s important in real estate and it can be crucial in a story. Some readers might ask since I used the term ‘Land of Snows’ in my title, why didn’t I set the novel in Tibet. It’s a good question. Why Nepal and not Tibet?
From the perspective of a climbing story, either location would have worked. We’re still talking Mt. Everest and the Himalayas. It would have been possible to send Blake to the north side to be around fewer climbers who would assault the mountain in a more technically difficult ascent. North, and from The Land of Snows (Tibet) was not impossible, but fairly improbable.
But the heart of the story concerns a teenager whose whole perception of reality was about to be challenged. I would have loved taking him into Tibet to experience centuries -old monasteries and traditions. To meet its culture and be enfolded in it. Ideally, this is where Blake should encounter magic and mystery, and I considered it. However, Chinese occupation of Tibet has been in full force since 1959. Tibetans have lived under religious intolerance and persecution for fifty plus years. Monasteries have been destroyed, learned masters have fled, and every year more and more Tibetans leave their homeland. The Chinese have a strong presence in monastic communities. Merely possessing a photo of the Dalai Lama is illegal and punishable. This was not the right place to send a teenager looking for truth. I had to look for The Land of Snows somewhere else.
Nepal became that somewhere else. Placing Blake on the south side of Everest naturally plunked him down in Sherpa lands. With the Sherpas, Blake found a safe haven to explore Tibetan Buddhism without the heritage of Chinese repression ongoing in Tibet. Here Blake could freely experience magic and mystery. Into the Land of Snows recognizes the current political and religious situation inside Tibet today and at the same time, I yearn to take Blake north in the future. What might he find in the decades ahead?