A few people have asked me how I came up with the idea for my novel, True Calling, so I thought I’d share my story with you.
It all started with a dream. Just not my own.
The funny thing about dreams is that they’re so obscure to the point of not being real that we tend to overlook them and the potential message they’re trying to deliver. Or at least I know that’s what I used to do. But I’ve had cause to think about dreams a lot lately and I truly wonder whether our dreams have the power to change our lives (and I’m not just speaking metaphorically).
I first got hooked on the Twilight series in November 2009. My sister-in-law, an avid YA reader, had been raving about the books for the best part of the previous year. And unless you lived under a rock or on a different planet there was no way of avoiding the phenomenon. The first Twilight movie had surfaced in 2008 and you couldn’t avoid Robert Pattinson or Kristen Stewart in the midst of such obsession, they were everywhere. I paid zero attention to the hype: Not interested, far too old for all that malarkey, vampires meh… Then I came into the sitting room one day and my eldest son was watching Twilight on Sky movies and I got instantly sucked in (excuse the pun). Therein was the start of my obsession with Twilight, which would later translate into an obsession with YA fiction and teen movies in general.
So, I hear you ask, what’s this got to do with dreams? I took to my obsession—as I do with everything else in my life—with total dedication and determination, and I had a hunger for all things Twilight. I wanted to find out everything about the series and the author, so I checked out Stephenie Meyer’s website and (we’re finally getting to the dream part) I watched an interview with her where she explained about the now infamous dream that started it all off. In case you’re one of those people who was living under a rock or on a different planet, she apparently had a dream one night of a vampire boy with sparkly skin and a human girl in a meadow. She was so transfixed by the dream that the next day she started writing a vampire-human love story and Twilight was borne. Or so the story goes. When I heard this, I was instantly intrigued.
Now I know that a lot of authors have said they were inspired by Stephenie Meyer—she’s a very inspirational woman—but I think the affect she had on me was slightly different.
I wondered a lot about her ‘meadow dream’; probably more than was normal to. Who sent her that dream? And why? And did someone (or something) plant that seed knowing full well that it would lead her on a path to a significant life-altering experience? And what are dreams anyway? A malfunction of our brain? An unconscious message from our inner selves? A medium for receiving messages from others? My thoughts jumbled around like this for weeks, and my idea started to grow from this silent analysis.
So I started writing my own story, and as I did, I thought more and more about the power of dreams. And was it the dream itself that fuelled the life-changing moment, or the actions of the person receiving the dream? How many of us have had dreams that we dismissed outright without a second thought? And what if those dreams had been given to us for a purpose, and we had failed to recognize and grasp that opportunity?
And as someone who didn’t actually often dream that much herself; I started paying more attention when I did. I began to keep a notebook and pen by my bed, and would fervently scribble in it when I woke up after a particularly vivid dream. Then there were other nights, where ideas for my book came thick and fast during the witching-hour. Now I wouldn’t call these incidents ‘dreams’ in the real sense of the word, but I repeatedly experienced ‘light-bulb’ moments as I drifted from a conscious to an unconscious state of mind.
That got me thinking about the creative mind and whether there is a connection between dreams and creativity? Why is it that when we quiet the brain there is often a tendency for a flurry of thoughts to swarm our mind?
So I did the next logical thing: I googled it, and discovered a whole world on the internet devoted to dreams, their meaning, common dream themes, how to decipher same. It was only then that I realized how big of a deal dreams are and how fascinated people are by them.
As I considered all of this, the ‘dream’ theme within my book became the pivotal force driving the development of my plot and characterization. And I’d love to tell you more, but I can’t, for fear of inadvertent spoiler alerts. It’s sufficient to say that the dreams in my novel, True Calling, are powerful and impactful, but they’re not always the sum of what they appear to be.
In my most-recent inner debate, I’ve thought about that other definition of dreams. The notion that dreams are aspirational and that if we are determined enough, and work hard enough, and possess the utmost self-confidence and self-belief, that we can turn those dreams into reality.
Then I realized that I had come full circle. And I thought wouldn’t it be amazing if my (non-literal) dream did come true. And all the more so because I have been writing about dreams, and it was musing about someone else’s dream that set me on that path. Only time will tell I guess!
Dreams are still a mystery, in every sense of the word.
So that’s the story of how I came to write the True Calling series! What about you? Have you ever had a really bizarre dream that set you on a particular path? Or have you ever had a dream that you ignored, and then wished you hadn’t? Or did someone else’s dream inspire you like it did me? I’d love to hear your dream stories!