Behind the Scenes (part 1)

Behind the Scenes (part 1)

I thought y’all might be interested in a quick peek behind the scenes at how the Dream Series books came to be…

The first book in the series, DREAM STUDENT, first came to life 15 years or so ago.  The genesis of the idea was a question:

Why do people in stories (TV, movies, books) become “amateur detectives?”  Most sane people, if they discover evidence of a crime, especially something as awful as a murder, would go straight to the police.  But people in stories almost never do.

My answer was: because the evidence was only in their heads.  If you were seeing the crimes in the perpetrator’s memories – or dreams – what could you do with that information?  What could you tell the police?  you would need some concrete proof, which means you’d have to find it yourself.  You’d be…an amateur detective.

Sara, and Brian, came to life right along with the idea, and, really, neither of them changed very much from the initial idea to the final book.  Beth didn’t really change, either, except that as the book went from being written in third person to being told entirely from Sara’s first person POV, we didn’t get to see anything from her point of view in the final book.

Some details changed (especially the ending, and the way that Sara and company figure out how to find the killer), but basically the story is more or less as it was fifteen years ago.

DREAM DOCTOR came from a couple of different ideas.  First was simply following up on the ending of DREAM STUDENT.  We knew that Sara was going to marry Brian, and that she was going to go to medical school.  Following her and seeing how she handled those two things was obvious.  The second idea was to turn around the plot of the first book.  In DREAM STUDENT, Sara had to track down one man who had killed several people.  DREAM DOCTOR reverses that: she has to figure out who out of several suspects is trying to kill one very dislikeable individual.  I will admit that I didn’t decide for sure who the would-be murderer was until partway through the book, which meant going back to make a few changes to support the ending.

DREAM CHILD again springs from the ending of the previous book.  We learn in DREAM DOCTOR that Sara’s going to have a baby, and the logical progression was again obvious: what if Sara’s child shared her talent?  What would it be like to have to solve a mystery seen only through dreams – but, worse, through adult dreams as witnessed by a four-year-old who has no frame of reference at all for what she’s seeing?

I didn’t work out the mechanics of the plot right away; I didn’t know exactly who was blackmailing the Congressman, or why, until the book was nearly halfway finished, but the basic idea never really changed.

That’s not true of book four, DREAM FAMILY.  The original idea for the story was that Sara would encounter her nemesis – someone else outside her family who could do what she did, but who was using that gift for selfish and harmful purposes.  But I never got there.  I wrote the prologue, and then I got the idea that somewhere in the story, Sara would find herself spending a night in jail.  I envisioned it as a minor obstacle, and something that might even be a relatively lighthearted moment.  But the moment I began to write that scene (I sometimes jump ahead and write later scenes if I have a strong idea of what they’re going to be), it changed.  The night in jail – I began with the moment of Sara’s arrest – became a nightmare for Sara, worse than anything she’d ever experienced.  And I knew, that was the story: Sara going through an experience that totally breaks her, and how (or if) she recovers from it and puts herself back together.

So there’s how the first four books came to be.  In the next installment, I’ll discuss the rest of the Dream Series…


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