PW: What was the biggest challenge in writing a biography, Dreamer of Dune, of your famous father?
Brian Herbert: To portray my feelings. The hardest thing was to look at the situation fairly. We were estranged until my mid 20s. I was 38 when my dad died, so I had 12 years to really know him. I totally forgave him.
PW: How long did it take to write the book?
BH: I began writing notes on the backs of wine labels in 1978. My dad and mom encouraged me to keep a family journal, which I kept till '86, and then I started writing the book. When my brother, Bruce, read it, prior to his death in June '93, it had grown to over 2,000 rough draft pages.
PW: What was your brother's reaction?
BH: He was very supportive. It made him cry, because he saw the relationship I had developed with our father and it was something he could never have for himself, although they made peace before Dad died in '86.
PW: Was your father joking when he used a lie detector on you and your brother?
BH: Never a joke! My grandfather was a police officer. He taught Dad about lie detectors and police interrogation methods, so Dad got this old World War II lie detector and used it on us regularly. He was obsessed with the truth. It always happened when Mom was at work.
PW: What made your parents' marriage work so well?
BH: My dad was an adventurer, my mother a romantic. When they met in college, both were creative writers; the writing was a bond. When we needed to survive, she wrote ads for a department store, giving up her own creative writing. It was the willingness to sacrifice for him—but later, when she became terminally ill with lung cancer, he did the same for her.
PW: Your childhood was nomadic, eccentric and adventurous. Best memory?
BH: We moved 23 times before I was out of high school! Best adventure? The 1955 trip to Mexico when we were leaving Tacoma in a 1948 LaSalle hearse. Dad was in the best mood I'd ever seen him, singing songs, cracking jokes. He had this myth of being like Hemingway, a writer in an exotic land, thinking when we got there it would be cheap to live and easy to write. But he couldn't function creatively in Mexico, so we had to come back.
PW: Did you like David Lynch's Dune and the recent Sci-Fi miniseries, Children of Dune?
BH: Lynch's film was dark and mysterious—he did put his stamp on it, which made it hard to understand (rain on Dune?!). The Sci-Fi version followed the plot perfectly, and you understand the Dune world better in Richard Rubinstein's production.
PW: Will you continue the Dune legacy indefinitely?
BH: I'll keep writing Dune books as long as my mother's spirit continues to support the project.
PW: Did you and Kevin J. Anderson use any material by your father when you wrote your first prequel?
BH: Dad didn't finish the seventh Dune book, and there were no notes that I knew of. In May 1997, Kevin and I had a brainstorming session. Two weeks after Kevin left, an estate attorney called and said, "What do you want to do with the two safety deposit boxes of your Dad's?" When we opened the boxes, there were computer disks and print-outs, including the notes on Dune 7, so Kevin and I could know where he was going. Next, I started going through some old boxes and found 1,500 pages of Dune notes. Sales of [the original] Dune have almost quadrupled since we began writing the prequels.
PW: When you began "talking story" with your father, what was the most important lesson?
BH: Dad said, "Remember you are an entertainer and storyteller first. You can add your pot-full of messages in layers underneath the adventures. If you try to preach to people, you will put them to sleep."