I wrote this book because it kept me up at night. I had to get it out of me...
As Above, So Below is a short (roughly 100 pages) fictional story about a tragic mountain climbing accident. Set in Argentine Patagonia, much of the drama of the story actually takes place within the mind of the story's protagonist. Finding himself alone on the mountain with no ropes or equipment to safely descend, the emotionally distraught climber is forced to face his inner demons by continuing upwards in hopes of finding help on the summit to get safely back down. Along the way, he toes the inevitable line between not just life and death, but the temptation of the void itself in the aftermath of this horrific tragedy.
As Above, So Below was written in 2015, and edited and revised at the prestigious Mountain and Wilderness Writing Workshop at The Banff Centre in 2016. It has been described as "Jack London's To Build a Fire for climbing", and reminiscent of James Salter's Solo Faces. It is a pulse-quickening, exciting, and beautiful story.
The book you are purchasing will come in a comfortable (almost pocket size) 5X7 hardbound cloth cover, with an embossed foil stamp illustration (no dust jackets to get torn up or lost) designed and drawn by the talented Sarah Nicholson. Inside the book, you will find a variety of custom-drawn black and white images commissioned specifically for this text by Craig Muderlak, one of today's finest mountain artists.
Chris Kalman is the author of The Index Town Walls: A Guide to Washington's Finest Crag, as well as countless articles online, and in print. His work has been featured in Adventure Journal, Alpinist, Ascent, the American Alpine Journal (where he is an associate editor), Climb, Climbing, Rock and Ice, Switchback Travel, Up.St.Art, Wild Bounds, and various blogs.
Though best known for his essays and journalism, Chris Kalman has been writing fiction for the past twenty years. This heavily acclaimed novel (see the advance praise below) is Kalman's long-awaited first public foray into the fiction genre.
Who Would Like This Book?
The obvious target audience for this book is anyone who would self-identify as a climber. And yet, the aim of the book is to reach far more broadly than that. The narrative is but a vehicle for the prose. The action of the story is climbing, but the human drama and inherent psyche of the story is utterly universal: addressing questions of life, death, risk, regret, and a certain myopia that comes from too closely following our inner desires - whatever they may be. The point of the story is to use climbing as a tool to teach ourselves about the business of being a human.
Why Should We Trust This Author?
Chris Kalman has been climbing, and writing about climbing, for 16 years, first publishing in Climbing Magazine more than a decade ago. He has made five different expeditions to Chilean Patagonia, where he has established scores of new routes (often on previously unclimbed walls), and has recently returned from a major expedition to a remote valley in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, where he successfully climbed 1000-1500 meter routes to previously untouched summits on unnamed peaks. He knows climbing, has a deep knowledge of the climbing life, and is intimately acquainted with risk.
Why a Kickstarter?
In spite of the fact that As Above, So Below was edited by widely renowned authors such as Marni Jackson, Tony Whittome, and Bernadette McDonald, it was turned down by a bevy of likely publishing houses, for reasons having nothing to do with the quality of the writing. Those reasons included:
* It's too short for fiction.
* We only publish nonfiction climbing narratives.
* Why would we ever publish something about climbing?
* We're in the UK, you're not.
You might think that the only thing that should matter to a publisher is the quality of the work. But that's simply not the case. Publishers care about keeping their businesses afloat, and that largely entails checking off a certain number of boxes and creating products that match their existing paradigm and worldview about what constitutes sellable writing.
More and more authors are seeking out alternative ways to get their work out there. James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophecy, "sold 100,000 copies of the novel out of the trunk of his Honda before Warner Books agreed to publish it." Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Marcel Proust, Beatrix Potter, and Seth Godin have all self-published. Why? Because sometimes authors know something that publishing companies don't. They know that what matters is not length, not whether the work is fiction or non, not the genre, or the author's nationality.
The only thing that matters is whether or not the writing is good. And if it is, people will read it, and like it.
$8,500?! What Do You Need $8,500 for?
Self-publishing, it turns out, is really expensive. If it wasn't so expensive, probably far more people would do it. Here is a breakdown of the costs.
- Print Run of 1000 hardbound copies: $6000
- Copyright Registration: $125
- LOC Registration: $125
- Barcode: $25
- Cover Design / Layout: $350
- 10 custom illustrations: $1500
- Estimated Misc. costs: $375
- TOTAL = $8,500
Advance Praise for As Above So Below
The writing in As Above So Below is some of the most adept prose by Chris Kalman that I've read. In an elegant and understated way, it suggests hints of complex emotions and almost metaphysical meaning.
- Katie Ives, Editor in Chief Alpinist Magazine.
Well known as a climber and ace editor, Chris Kalman is an even better writer. And he knows his subject matter. As Above So Below will keep you on the edge of your seat while you think deeply about some important realities surrounding alpinism.
- Bernadette McDonald, author of many award-winning books including Freedom Fighters.
Let Chris Kalman put you on the ledge alongside this father and son (and condor!) in the Patagonian mountains. A chance to invest in a writer who has kept his eye on higher ground!
- Marni Jackson, Award-winning author and faculty editor for the Mountain Wilderness Writing Workshop at The Banff Centre.
As Above So Below is a very compelling read, and I enjoyed it. The final section of the story is damned near perfect.
- David Stevenson, director of the Creative Writing and Literary Arts program at University of Alaska, and Author of Warning Against Myself
A really great read - Jack London's "To Build a Fire" for climbers.
- Brendan Leonard, author of Sixty Meters to Anywhere, and Semi-Rad.
- As Above So Below is crushing in its frankness, and thrilling. A quick, heartbreaking read. - Hilary Oliver, author of The Gription blog.
Sample From The Book:
He looked beneath his legs, and saw the vanishing ledge in its smallness. Soon, it would be difficult to distinguish from the rest of the wall. Just a blip, and a bump. And beneath that, what would there be? Only the infinite unthinkable. The going felt easy now, as it always did when he climbed unroped. Easy because to fall was impossible, impossible because to fall was to die, and dying was not an acceptable possibility. One foot in front of the other, one hand above another. If a hand did not feel right, he would massage his finger tips into the undulations in the rock until it did. If a foot did not want to stick, he would make it stick. There was no exertion, no accidental movement. There were no possibilities except forever upwards.
As he jammed hand and foot into the crack, he marveled at the incredible fissure that split the clean wall like a bolt of lightning. Why, he wondered, do cracks not travel horizontally. If they did, I perhaps could make it to the other side of the mountain. I could traverse with one crack for my feet, and one for my hands. If only cracks traveled horizontally. But if they did, then the sport would be a different sport. You would not be uniting what is above with what is below, you would simply be moving laterally through time. As ordinary as that, as regular as anyone. It would be as if to walk. You would leave these summits alone.
He moved methodically, and mechanically. There was no sinew left, only steel cable tendon and I-beam bone, and his flesh merely clung to this structural integrity. He was a machine, and there was no such thing as tired. There was only perfect execution on the canvas of stone, and moving always upwards. His fingers, hands, and fists fit into the cracks, fingered edges, expanded or shrunk to fill the void. His feet moved with precision from indent to indent, crystal to crystal, edge to edge. He neither faced nor feared exhaustion. The body moved simply, pragmatically. Everything vanished before his pinpoint perception, and his mind settled down into rote movements, and the steady rhythm of the breath that breathed him.
He did not think of the thing that had happened. He did not think of her. He did not know her, was not aware of her; did not know and was not aware of anyone. Instead, there was an acute awareness of a slight change in the wind, the feeling of follicles pushed into the nape of the neck. There was an actuality of light, an understanding of the depth of features as portrayed by the light’s scattering, and the mind’s interpretation of it. The grain of the granite was precisely this big, precisely this coarse, precisely this hue. The granite was not gray, or white, or beige. It was a mottled collection of synapse firings and memories, of spirit and water mixing in the rocks glass amid the melting ice, of firelight flickers where the embers in the woodstove shone through, distilled into crystalline perfection. In the flecks of feldspar he could see his reflection, the eye of the granite staring him in the eye. This was the part that felt good. This was what drew him here. The warm radiation of the granitic glow, the cold hard granite god, illuminating, surrounding, and enveloping him, claiming him for its own: this was why he climbed. And climbing this way, without a rope, was the ultimate expression of that inclusion.
Risks and challenges
WHAT IF I JUST SUCK? WHAT IF THE WRITING JUST SUCKS? WHAT IF NOBODY LIKES IT? WHAT IF PEOPLE MAKE FUN OF ME? WHAT IF I NEVER WRITE AGAIN? WHAT IF ALL THIS TIME I'VE BEEN LYING TO MYSELF? WHAT IF I'D BE BETTER OFF SITTING IN A CUBICLE?
These are the risks. Putting yourself out there as an artist is terrifying. These fears, doubts, insecurities - they are what has stayed my hand from doing this sooner. They are the risks I face. They are the risks I must embrace.
But you, dear reader, what risks do you face? Well, you risk wasting your time (not much of it) on a poorly-written book. You risk blowing $25 that you could have spent instead on icecream and beer. You risk buying a crappy present for a friend. And if you choose the reward that involves climbing with me, you risk bushwhacking, choss-wallowing, getting rained on, having rocks dropped accidentally upon you, and generally just barely surviving by the skin of your teeth (but still probably having a great time).
TO BE REAL
The biggest risk and challenge involved in this will be getting all of you your books / applicable rewards in as timely a manner as possible.
Having just finished a book that I spent four years on, and still finding typos and errors in it, I know that the final steps in the editing process will take time. And I'd rather get you a PERFECT product than a SUITABLE one.
So, I can't guarantee you will have your book / reward by the holiday season. But I have been working on this for two full years now, and it has been edited thoroughly by many different readers. The book is 95% of the way there... just one more final push.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)