The "Real Story"
Thanks go to Patrik Ohlsson of Sweden and Jean's son, Kendall for most of the material.
Sci Fi list question posed by David Moffitt: Does anyone know if Jean Auel is still alive. I was hoping that there would be a continuation of the Clan of the Cave Bear books. I havent heard anthing about the author.
Their reply: First of all her name is Jean M. Auel and she is alive. From what I understand the fifth book is written and it is only a problem with the publisher that has kept it from being published. It seems that they bought the rights to publish the entire series and they don't want to give her any better deal now than they did one the first book when she was unknown.
Kendall's Response: Jean has not finished book 5 yet, and she is not having any dispute with her publisher. The expectation is that the book will be available sometime in Fall of 1997, but that is not a promise. The delay is entirely due to the fact that she is still writing it. She is otherwise healthy, happy, and getting along fine with her publisher.
Patrik's Question: Seven years is a very long time to write a book, I know she made a lot of travels to get the facts necessary for the books and then to write the excellent story, but none of the four first book have taken more then four years to write.
Kendall's Response: Perhaps nobody knows why this book is taking so long to write, including Jean. There are lots of little reasons and not one big reason. She moved her office to a new home. She hired a new secretary and had to train her. She is constantly asked to give speeches and make appearances, and she turns most of them down. But speech writing and traveling does interfere with her book writing. She now has fifteen grandchildren, so holidays are also a very busy time. Other than the distractions I mentioned above, she is working on nothing else except writing the fifth book.
Patrik's Question: Has she been ill? (You wrote she IS healthy but not if she always been healthy.)
Kendall's Response: Her health has been very good. We celebrated her 60th birthday this year, and she is looking and feeling great. Her husband, Ray, was ill last year and required heart-bypass surgery. This was a difficult time and very worrisome. But, overall, I think that traumatic experiences often serve to increase one's creative energy.
Patrik's Question: Are even more facts neccessary for the fifth book than for the others? Is she working on both book 5 and 6 to release them close together? (Rumors say so.)
Kendall's Response: She has said that she will not stop writing after book 5 to help promote the book. Previously, she has always taken an author's tour to appear on television and radio, and give interviews to magazines and newspapers. Instead, she will continue immediately with writing book 6. A great deal of the research done for book 5 will also be applied to book 6, so she is hopeful to finish the final book much more quickly.
Patrik's Question: Do you think it's possible the sixth book will be released in year 2000 or even in 1999?
It is possible, but unfortunately I do not think it is likely.
Patrik's Question: I wrote to you about six months ago and asked some questions about Jean Auel. Now I just like to know if you have any news about Jean Auel?
Kendall's Response: Jean is fine, and her work on the fifth book is continuing as expected. She recently shared with me some of her research from the site of the novel, in the Dordogne Valley of France. She has created a very realistic picture of the area, and has mapped out trails, villages, hunting grounds, etc. that early man probably used. She has given her own names to the landmarks of the area, but I suspect that a modern traveler could actually find many of the places she mentions in her latest book. The story line itself is also very exciting. I can't say much, but you can expect a clash of cultures as Ayla settles into her new home with the Zelandonii.
Patrik's Question: Is it still likely the fifth book will be released in late 1997?
Kendall's Response: Everyone is hoping for that, but there is still much writing left to do.
Patrik's Question: Last time you said it was possible but not likely the sixth book will be released in 1999 or 2000. When is it likely then? 2001? 2002?
Kendall's Response: Of course it is impossible to know. I expect that 2001 is a good bet, and possibly sooner. Jean knows the story line for the final book, and it will wrap up the entire 6-book series. Much of the research is also complete. So it is just a matter of pressing the correct sequence of buttons on her keyboard. :-)
Patrik's Question: I've heard that several movie-companies wanted to do movies of Jean's books but she said no. Is it true? If it is I agree, her books won't fit in movies..
Kendall's Response: Perhaps you are aware that "The Clan of the Cave Bear" was made into a movie. She has since won back the movie rights in court, because the movie producers apparently violated their contract. I don't know all the details. She would like to someday sell the movie rights again, but only after she has finished writing the 6th book, and only under the right circumstances.
Patrik's Question: I've heard that in an interview after her second book she said each book will probably take 2 years to write.Is it true? If it is the books have already took 5 more years to write then she thought in the beginning, and it's still maybe another 5 years to go...
Yes, she did expect the writing to be finished much more quickly. Her
publisher has been especially patient about the delays and has been good
about not applying pressure for her to finish. I think that they would
rather have an excellent book later, than a mediocre effort sooner. Creativity
is hard to schedule.
Patrik's Question: Is there any news about the next book?
Kendall's Response: No news yet. Perhaps I will have some news in July.
Diane's Question: I was wondering if you are able to tell me anything more about the "book 5" status.
I've been pestering
her with questions about book 5, but she is playing her cards close to
the vest. I can tell you that she is working very hard, and writing just
about every day. She is having a lot of fun with it, too. Although she
wrote the initial story outline something like 20 years ago, the details
and characters don't really come to life until she puts words on paper.
I suppose it is safe to say that she is almost done -- but after 8 years,
"almost" could mean many more months of writing and revising.
Bottom line: No News!
Bottom line: No News!
I've tried to get any kind of date from Jean and she will only tell me that no date has been set. She continues to work on book 5 but won't speculate about when it will be ready for the publisher.
I speak with her often and usually we talk about Book Five. Lately she has even been writing some chapters for Book Six which she needs to do so that the story flows properly.
Her habit is to work all night and then go to bed in the morning, so I consider it a very good sign when she is asleep at noon. That seems to be the case more often than not lately.
There are no major distractions, health problems, family problems, or otherwise to keep her from working.
Jean also steadfastly refuses to look at the Internet or the World Wide Web because she does not want to get distracted from her writing. But she is aware of the many readers out there on the web who are discussing her novels and who are anxious for the next book. She really appreciates the interest and devotion of her fans while the next book(s) are being written.
- Kendall Auel
Diane's Question: This was just brought to my attention. Seems kinda odd to me. Maybe you can check the validity of this. Posted at Vicki's Earth's Children site at: http://www.EarthsChildren.com/contest.htm:
I would just like to thank all of my devoted readers. However, I am disappointed to read the disparaging and hurtful remarks posted here. I am sorry that I have kept you all waiting for so long. I have Books 5,6 and 7 all completed. The greatest obstacle thus far has been my publisher -- something which I know you have all heard rumours about. I am unable to discuss the terms of my contract, so all I can say is that the books will not be out for quite a while. Thank you for your devotion. I truly love all my fans and the support they provide me in order that I may keep going, until my books are finally published. Thank you. Jean Auel Jean Auel Portland, OR United States - Friday, January 29, 1999 at 19:24:19 (EST)
Kendall's Response: Clearly this is a forgery. There is no "book 7"; the other books are not yet finished; and the publisher is in no way imaginable an obstacle. They are primed and ready to publish book 5 just as soon as they get the manuscript. Jean has continued to refuse any hint at when she might be done, but I know she is spending most of her time at the Oregon Coast, working on book five. Oh, by the way, she has no internet access and so anything you see posted by "Jean" is clearly fake. Thanks for the message, hopefully I can squash rumors before they start.
In August I went on vacation to Turkey (with my parents, Jean and Ray). This was an organized tour to see the last total solar eclipse of the millennium. We also saw a lot of archeological sites, including Çatalhöyük. After the eclipse, we spent several days in Istanbul, and left just a day or so before the big earthquake.
But what everyone really wants to know is... how is book five coming along? The story is the same. Jean continues to work on it and is making progress toward getting it finished. I have really tried to get some kind of inkling about when she might be done; or if she is close to being done; or if she is far away from being done. Anything. But she is determined to keep that information to herself.
Jean and Ray are approximately in the center.
Diane: In December, I wrote to Kendall again, in response to a rumor a fan asked me to check into - about Jean being involved in a fatal car accident the previous week.
Kendall: We spent most of Saturday with Jean, Ray, my sisters, nieces, and nephews. It was our annual Christmas season get-together, and Jean was looking very well. As usual, the rumors have absolutely no basis. I will ask her about the cover art for book five, but my guess is that nothing has been started yet. I followed some of the links from your page, and found the eclipse page to be very interesting. If you read the entry by Guy Ottwell, that is the group we were with. Attached is a photo taken by one of the group members, David McCormick.
- Kendall Auel
Kendall's Response: These rumors keep coming, and they're still false.
Jean continues to work hard while my dad handles the logistics of moving into their new place. They decided that a big house in the country was getting to be a bit too much work and so they're moving to a condo right near the center of town (Portland). This came out during a casual conversation with one of the local columnists who had his own colorful way of describing exactly who is Jean Auel: http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf?/columnists/nicholas/00/0214_nicholas.frame
May 12, 2000:
Sorry I don't have much to report. Jean and Ray moved into their new home last week and further work on Book 5 was on hold while organizing, packing, moving, and unpacking things. As always there is not even a hint at when the book will finally be finished. Prior to the move, she was on her late-night schedule which means she is focused on writing and putting in lots of hours. I can only guess that she must be getting close to being finished, with all the hard work she has put in over the past couple of years. But who knows? I will definitely e-mail you when I hear any kind of positive news! Kendall Auel
This is the text of a letter Heather Wales - a fellow reader received from Jean Auel.
September 22, 2000:
Yesterday Jean called me and said she had received a kind of "angry" letter from a fan who said she had heard that the next book is delayed because Jean is working on a TV mini-series. I didn't see that rumor listed on your web page, but Jean asked me to write a short message letting everyone know that she is not working on a mini-series or anything else except Book 5. She said it's "coming along", which is actually unusual because normally she doesn't mention anything one way or the other regarding her progress.
I asked if I could quote her, and she said yes, and then repeated that "it's coming along, it's getting there." I don't want to cause undue excitement, but that sounds pretty positive to me! I should also say that I asked her last month if I could expect to give Book 5 away for Christmas this year, and she told me flatly "no".
November 27th, 2000:
There's nothing new to report, at least not that I know about. I'm sure that Jean has made good progress over the summer and fall, but as usual I have no idea what that means in terms of a release date. She has been very energetic and excited about the writing, and I told her I'm ready to proof read anything she wants to give me! (not likely)
Regarding the origin of the name Ayla: many years ago, I recall a discussion between Jean and a Jewish friend. It seems that Ayla is a Hebrew name (meaning "oak tree"), and Jean's friend was wondering if that was the origin of the name. Jean said she simply chose the name because she liked the sound. But she was pleased to learn that Ayla happens to be a female name with ancient origins.