Why Did I Write Yesterday's Dreams
(This segment was written in 2001, just before Yesterday's Dreams was printed for the first time.
I do not believe I had a choice in telling this tale, the seed of an idea sprouted from a casual conversation with fellow writers and struck me so forcefully that before I’d even thought it through, the foundation of the story was already down on paper…sorry…on my hard drive. That said, it took me three years to reach the end of the Dream, or at least this segment, and nothing is truer than how my efforts have grown in that time.
Thanks to the internet and my own desire to rekindle the gift for writing I’d left behind in my school days, I had the monumentally beneficial opportunity to volunteer for a site aimed directly at writers of every level of experience. A haven, a nurturing environment, AOL’s The Amazing Instant Novelist offered inspiration, critique, and a forum for the exploration of the broad scope of literary talent in all of its forms. Not only did I find myself mentoring others, but I found a support structure of my own that fostered my ability. The fruit of that union is Yesterday’s Dreams. <Sadly, I have been told that The Amazing Instant Novelist is no more.>
I found that in interacting with other “serious” writers, I tended to look at everything on several different levels. While acknowledging the surface structure of what was being discussed some other portion of my brain would circle around and point out the potential twists and turns a particular concept offered. From there it was a short step to where those pathways could lead. Of course, it must also be mentioned that the eclectic lives of my fellow volunteers offered such a variety of situations begging to be used in stories, it was easy to find direction in the simplest of chats. For this particular story I have Shadow9939 to thank as his long list of former occupations included pawnbroker, and his own writing style tended toward the dark and supernatural.
It would be nice to say that Yesterday’s Dreams contained
a powerful, life-altering message, but I see it more as a slice of life with a
twist. Though I could not know it at the time the story began, my own life
started to loosely mirror the events of the book, at least in regards to Kara
and her family. The framework of Kara’s sacrifice and her father’s illness was
already well established when my mother was diagnosed with advanced breast
cancer. The parallels were not comfortable. There was no gradual acceptance, no
adjustment to the progression of the disease. I went from
During the course of my mother’s radical surgery and harsh, intensive treatments I turned to my writing to easy my pain at her suffering. This started within hours of my being informed, beginning with a slew of poems and stories dedicated to Mom. After a certain point the novel became a way for me to resolve my own turbulent feelings, not in answers found but in rages expressed in such a way that eased my own sense of helplessness, enabling me to maintain the strength my family desperately needed.
And yet, Yesterday’s Dreams existed well before my personal tragedy was realized. The simple concept began with a common notion of contamination. In other words, those things that have special meaning for us or that we are continually in contact with will absorb a certain essence of who we are. This “essence” is never named, but in my figuring, what is more connected to who we are than our soul? Combining the two concepts I wondered what would happen if someone were forced to give up an item that actually contained a bit of their soul. What potential for horror there was. Just think if there were those out there that were well aware of this aspect of contamination. In my initial concept this was to be a dark tale with a pawnbroker feasting on the souls in the items left at the shop. However, before the initial short story was written that had already morphed into a benevolent being whose only goal was to protect what people unwittingly turned loose, a portion of their soul, their very dreams, so someone else couldn’t steal them.
This in itself was not enough of a basis for entire novel, though it worked admirably well for the short story. Once it became apparent that there was more of a story to tell I turned to an old standard of fantasy writing: mythology. Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated by mythology, beginning with the traditional Greek and Roman that everyone possesses more than a passing knowledge of, and eventually moving on to the other mythologies of the world, including the Celtic mythology of my own heritage. It was easy to move from there to selecting the Sidhe, or elves, as the guardians of my tale, after all, they are common and even popular in modern fantasy, for the most part on the side of good.
Ah, but there is the problem. Elves are overdone; though everyone likes them, everyone also believe they know all there is to know of them. Here also was the challenge, how to present the Sidhe in a fresh and informative way. I fell back on the root of it all, the mythology. As I mentioned, Roman and Greek is so well known that anyone you stop on the street can name at least something about it, and most likely considerably more. Celtic myth, however, is mostly known only through the generic, trivialized bits and pieces already found in popular literature, mostly just the creature aspects—pixies, leprechauns, banshees—with none of the rich details of stories and names. Unless it is Tolkien, elves in the media have been two dimensional for the most part. A pity really, considering how rich Celtic mythology is.
For Yesterday’s Dreams I delved deeper into the Sidhe and their myth than I ever had before and found that even there things were sketchy. Alas, for the Celts depended on an oral tradition for the major portion of their history, something that did not change until the advent of Christianity on the Emerald Isle. Given this I have taken the basis of Celtic myth, the legends, the people, the events, and sought to preserve what is documented while filling the framework out with a fresh vision. I take into account many of the common concepts regarding the Sidhe and the ancient Celtic beliefs and add my own inspiration where details have gone wanting, such as the explanation of why there are so few Sidhe or why iron works as a protection against them.
Why did I write Yesterday’s Dreams? Because it insisted upon being written, dominating my thoughts and redirecting my attention from other things until finally it was done. What have I accomplished in its writing? I hope to have opened up to the reader a world of beauty and richness populated by ancient Celts and living myths for ultimately, this story exists to entertain, to enlighten, and to encourage the reader to consider things outside of their own understanding, in the process examining the strengths and weaknesses of humanity. May you enter my world and find what it means to you.
Now I can speak to you no longer, for Yesterday’s Dreams has a sister by name of Tomorrow’s Memories; she is right now insisting upon being written. <Tomorrow's Memories was completed in half the time it took to write Yesterday's Dreams, but has taken an additional four years to find a home. It will be published by Mundania Press in May of 2007 and is the second book in the Eternal Cycle series. The third book, tentatively entitled Today's Vision, is now clammering for my attention!>
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