Today, I’m pleased to welcome self-published author Emily Devenport to Almost Grown-up. Emily was previously published through traditional means and has recently started trying her hand at e-books. Her latest novel, Spirits of Glory, is a YA novel published through Smashwords. In her guest post, Emily discusses dreams as a writing inspiration and piecing it together to make a story.
THINGS KNOWN AND THINGS NOT KNOWN
It’s funny how compelling dreams can be. They have the power to terrify us, to fill us full of wonder, to make us wish they wouldn’t end. The dream that inspired Spirits Of Glory did all three to me.
When you’re dreaming, there are things you know and things you don’t know. This list of things known is smaller than theone you have when you’re awake, but you can function remarkably well with it. In this particular dream, I knew one thing for sure: the people in the southern half of the continent where I lived had disappeared, overnight, many years before. Those of us who remained in the North knew the Southern gods had made them disappear. But we didn’t have the nerve to ask why (we were afraid they might get mad and do the same thing to us).
On the list of things I didn’t know, was that people on my world experienced something called time fractures. They were isolated things, happening in small areas (like a park or a classroom where unfortunate students are trying to take a chemistry class). Inside a time fracture, it seems like time has slowed way down. But you can’t really tell how weird a time fracture is unless it happens in a rain storm. And that’s how my dream began. I was minding my own business, sitting on a veranda and thinking about how scary it was that all those people disappeared, and it began to rain. To quote Spirits Of Glory:
“In a rainstorm, you can hear time fracturing. The pitter-splat of drumming drops is replaced by a beautiful tinkling noise, as if the drops have turned to crystal and are knocking together ever-so-delicately like wind chimes. The condense part of the storm makes the clouds rumble, not like thunder, but like the voices of gods talking about time in a language no mortal could understand. The splat becomes a gentle whoosh, and you can touch your cheek where a drop landed before the fracture and feel the moisture without absorbing it. You can look into the not-falling drops and see fractured light shifting back and forth, and that’s when you know that time has not really stopped at all. If time has stopped, light can’t shift. That’s why people call it Fractured Time, because of the prisms inside the raindrops.”
That was the part of the dream I didn’t want to end. But it wandered off anyway, taking me along as a hapless passenger. I found myself alongside a shattered highway that looked as if some giant had picked it up and cracked it like a whip. I traveled with aliens who seemed almost human, and with scavengers who seemed less than human. We visited the empty cities where the missing Southerners used to live. The aliens wanted to talk with the ghosts of their ancestors, the Spirits Of Glory, but the scavengers were after treasure. I had two assistance animals with me, a dog and a cat, and they were both intelligent. At one point, we were left alone with the scavengers, and one of them pointed a gun at us.
Voices on the wind scared the scavengers away, and my furry friends and I escaped. We took shelter under a ruined overpass just as a storm was breaking. As the lightening flashed outside, a Southern god appeared to us, and its face was mostly teeth.
“I am Dagger,” it said.
And then I woke up. I thought, Southern gods? Time Fractures? Shattered highways? Intelligent assistance animals? Forbidden cities? Dagger? They were all just bits and pieces, but they seemed to belong together. So finally I asked the question that always makes people write or read books.
All I had were a bunch of odd threads that wanted to be woven into one story. I think writers can do that because of the way the human brain works. It likes to see patterns, even where they don’t exist. To write is to make sense of those imaginary patterns.
It took me about a year to figure out how and why all of these elements fit together. A lot of things clarified themselves along the way – and my main character, Hawkeye, turned out to be very different from me. Despite its dreamy beginnings, the world of Jigsaw took solid shape and form. But I didn’t consider Spirits Of Glory to be finished until an editor had gone over it with objective eyes. It was revised, and fine-tuned, until it could finally be called a book.
Since then, many more dreams have been dreamed, and other books are in progress. Not all of my dreams become books, and not all of my books are based on dreams. But the ones that are have a truth to them, as if they really did happen somewhere, some time. Everyone has the ability to dream stories, even if we never write them down. And maybe that’s why we can suspend disbelief and read them so avidly when somebody does write them down. Because at some time, we’ve all been there, with our lists of things known and things not known, terrified, full of wonder, trying to see patterns and make sense of it all – dreaming, awake, or somewhere in between.
Emily Devenport has been published under three pen names: as Emily Devenport, she wrote SHADE, LARISSA, SCORPIANNE, EGGHEADS, THE KRONOS CONDITION, and GODHEADS. As Maggy Thomas, she wrote BROKEN TIME, which was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. As Lee Hogan she wrote BELARUS and ENEMIES. Her books have been published in the U.S., the U.K., Italy, and Israel. She’s writing as Emily Devenport again, and has two new titles out from Smashwords: THE NIGHT SHIFTERS and SPIRITS OF GLORY, her newest YA novel.
Emily is also an undergraduate studying Geology and a volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.