Climb the Wind has enjoyed a popularity that I never foresaw, when I began it in March of 2001. It's won four separate awards and been widely recommended (and archived) in X-Fandom. Sometimes I think I should just introduce myself as "That woman who wrote Climb the Wind." More seriously, though, I'm hugely flattered by how beloved it's become. Readers have been wonderful - thank you. Also, for the curious, the final word-count would yield a book of about 220-30 print pages, so it's a short novel.
Will Climb have a sequel? No, it won't. I did toy with the idea for a while, but it wasn't originally plotted with a sequel in mind, and I honestly never expected the enthusaism it generated. But CtW has a clear ending, and closure. It doesn't require a sequel.
Acknowledgements: To Crys, without whose medical assistance several chapters couldn't have been written, and to Naomi, for her editing, as always. Several others (Mo, Domenika, Robbi, Jenn, Anne) helped with specific information, and Katta was my 'test subject' for chapter one. I'd also like to thank all who faithfully sent wonderful feedback after each chapter's posting. Feedback is what fanfic authors live for, since there are no sales figures to tell us if people are reading, and no royalty checks.
Why (and how) the Iliad?: I said at the outset that this particular story was based - very loosely - on Homer's Iliad. The parallels are more thematic than specific. The protagonist of the Iliad is, of course, the great warrior Achilles. He's young and talented, forthright, loyal and honorable to the point of foolishness. He can also be cold, ruthless, and arrogant (although in that world, humility was not a virtue). He was regarded as "the best of the Achaeans." (Achaeans = Greeks)
Scott is obviously my Achilles. And although there are significant differences between the two, both are young and talented, and known for their loyalty and honor. Achilles despised lying even though he lived in a culture which measured a man's cleverness by his skill at deceit. If there's enough culture-gap between dark age Greece and the modern world so that parts of the Iliad are puzzling for readers today, what makes it still a masterpiece after almost 3000 years is Homer's skill at showing the horrible cost of war, and his basic question - What drives an honorable man to atrocity? Can one's own sense of honor be as much a flaw as a virtue? (His answer is 'yes.')
This is the age-old tale of the hero's descent and his redemption. Achilles is the Mortal Hero. And so is Scott Summers.
Although I made little attempt to draw specific parallels to the original Iliad, there are a few. Jean, not Logan, is Patroklos, and her death is what sends Scott mad. Yet the warrior's comradeship of Achilles and Patroklos is paralleled by Scott and Logan. In the Iliad, Achilles is publically shamed by the taking of Briseis - that's why he retires from the war in the first place. He's not being a spoiled brat. In Climb the Wind, Scott's rape is the equivalent. But in Climb, his withdrawal comes after Patroklos' loss, not before. In the Iliad, Achilles' grief drives him into a descent from honorable hero to (amoral) god to (unfeeling) animal. He disregards all rules of combat, refuses to take prisoners for ransom, and kills without mercy. And he commits abomination on the body of his worthy enemy, Hector. (He ties it behind his chariot and drags it in the dust around the walls of Troy, within sight of Hector's family.) In Scott and Logan's escape from the bunker, Scott is both 'godlike' (one of Achilles' epithets) in his ability to hit his targets, and an animal in his treatment of his opponents. He kills without mercy and shows no remorse for the body count he runs up.
In the Iliad, it is not until Achilles' rage is exhausted, and Patroklos is mourned, that Achilles is able to return to the realm of humanity. There is even a 'ghost scene' on the beach, where Patroklos appears to Achilles to beg for burial, and bewails their parting. But in the Iliad, the great friends are not able to touch (much less take a final roll in the hay).
It is at the end of the Iliad, in the grief-driven supplication of the Greeks' great enemy - King Piram of Troy - that Achilles reclaims his human compassion. Priam is sneaked into the Achaean camp and Achilles' tent by the god Hermes. There, he kneels at Achilles' feet and begs for the body of his son, Hector, so that he might give him a proper burial. Priam appeals to Achilles' memory of and love for his own father, in order to take pity on Priam's grief. In short, Priam finds a point of human contact beyond the hatred of war. In the end, Priam and Achilles sit and weep together for their individual losses. Likewise in Climb, it's an appeal from an enemy who is also a father - an appeal about children - that revives Scott-the-teacher's conscience.
And although Achilles is still alive at the end of the Iliad, every ancient (or modern) reader knows that Achilles died at Troy; his days are numbered by his choice to kill Hector. In Climb, Scott does try to sacrifice himself, but is stopped, and it is Xavier who dies instead. So if you know the Troy story and wondered why Scott gets to live, it's because Xavier took "the arrow of Paris."
If you've never read Homer, do so (find the Fagels or Fitzgerald translations). And if you want to know where this story came from, read G. Zanker's The Heart of Achilles: Characterization of Personal Ethics in the Iliad and Jonathan Shay's Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character.