The book process

Want to know a little more about the book?

I understand that lots of questions spring to mind when considering buying the book. Did you write it? Are there pictures? Is it just a boy's adventure book? Is it true? So I thought I would take some time and space to tell you how it came about.

First of all, following our historic flight, there was only one opportunity to tell and publish our story and we wanted to get it right. Bertrand and I felt it was our baby and of course we should co-write it as soon as possible whilst all the details were fresh in our minds.

Because we wanted it to be as good as it could be, we employed the services of a ghost writer. We interviewed five professional writers before settling on our choice of the English writer Duff Hart-Davis. It is important to explain that the words were ours but we needed Duff to structure the story and ensure that it would be a good read.

We got together in Bertrand's Lausanne home, shut the door and unplugged the telephone. We then spent two and a half long days just talking into a tape recorder, occasionally interupted by Duff asking a question or demanding clarification of details. On the morning of the second day, we knew that we had chosen our writer well. As we were describing a particularly harrowing time during the journey when the prospect of never seeing our loved ones again loomed large, we noticed a tear running down Duff's cheek - he was living the story.

Duff then went off to interview other members of the team, visit the remains of the balloon and capsule, talk to Bertrand and I again individually and do whatever further research he felt necessary.

Weeks later, we received the draft manuscript, made a few factual corrections and suggested areas where perhaps the context of our explanation didn't match the text. I think the result is just about perfect and the feedback from readers, both male and female has been wonderfully flattering. It made the International Best Seller list in 2000 and 2001.

Many readers report that it was difficult to put down, and some (including me) enjoy the emotions of laughter and tears at various points in the story. Of course I'm biased; but if you don't enjoy it, tell me why and I will give you some of your money back! I say some, because a proportion of the sales receipts are donated to our foundation Winds of Hope.

By the way, yes, there are pictures.