September 3, 2010

The bizarre origins of my next novel

As an author I'm not much for dry spells, Blog, but I had a doozy this year. Releasing five titles in 2009, including all the promotional work for How to Catch and Keep a Vampire, left me worn out, I guess. But you can only keep a writer quiet for so long. Besides, one of my biggest fans expressed on Facebook how she was pining for another book, and that kind of thing is hard to ignore: people who actually notice how long it’s been since you published something.

I've honestly been trying to come up with something for months, but every idea I had petered out fast. Meanwhile, I was reading a lot of really good books, books that combined compelling, clever plot ideas with wonderful characters and moving themes. Comparing my ideas to these excellent novels, I seemed to fall short every time.

A couple weeks ago, Blog, I had a really vivid dream about this extremely attractive guy. Not anyone I've ever known or seen before, but in the dream he told me his name and I actually remembered it. Jason Colton. Jason was in his early 30's I'd say, and really tall, like 6'3", and really slender. Lanky. He had my favorite kind of hair: curly, longish, and dark brown, like Frodo or Neil Gaiman. Biggish nose, thin lips, and sapphire blue eyes. A really low voice. He had a pretty serious manner about him too: no-nonsense. And in the dream I was just obsessed with him.

People familiar with my work know that I'm a Jungian and I believe in the animus. The animus, in a nutshell, is a feature of the unconscious mind, the constellation of a person’s opposite traits (and therefore the opposite sex), and in spite of being part of you is also utterly autonomous. The only way to interact with the animus is when he projects himself onto others, whether they be people you know, celebrities, or characters from books, TV and movies. Whenever that happens, you pretty much have to fall in love.

This Jason was my animus for sure, and it so happened I had just been thinking that day how frustrated I was not to have had a crush for ages...well, since 2009 for sure. It’s hard for me to write when I’m not crushing somehow; I need a muse. So, when Jason showed up, I figured he was there because I asked. I also figured he might be the key to finding my next book.

And then this friend and fan of mine posted her plaintive plea. Blog, I figured I really needed to take this synchronicity seriously.

That night in bed I had some imaginary conversations with Jason. Brainstorming. We probably worked through three ideas and they all quickly bombed. This was not going well, and I wanted to get some sleep! Finally I said, "Look, Jason, I got nothing. Maybe you could give me a good dream or something? This is gonna have to be all on you."

I woke up next morning unable to remember any dreams. "Sometimes I wonder about this Jungian stuff," I thought. I did my morning computer stuff, and then I worked out in the basement, and then I took my shower.

As I toweled off, it came to me. Like six ideas at once that dovetailed perfectly, and I loved them all. For the next hour (getting ready and driving to work), great chunks of the opening chapters, images of the characters, details and anecdotes flooded my brain. A girl raised by her grandfather, his specific "gifts," her eccentric aspirations, and crazy elements from the Korean war to hula hoops to the X-Men to a sprawling mansion to the Chicago Cubs to Jason Colton, who would of course be a character. Names, locations, dates. And all of it, in my humble opinion, really good stuff.

It was Aggie's Nine Heroes. A novel I was just dying to write. Where did all this come from, after my nice nine month drought of ideas? Well, Blog, you know who gets the credit in my opinion.

I have written almost three chapters already and I like it better all the time. It's going to take quite awhile to write as there is a lot that has to happen and a lot of characters to develop, but they are all going to be a blast to get to know. I already think Aggie's grandfather completely rocks, and if you’ve been following the meaning of this post, you know that statement is not me bragging.

The most oft-asked question of authors by their fans is this one: "Where do you get your ideas?" Well, now you know where I get mine.

Sorry you asked? LOL


  1. Sounds very exciting, Diana! Kinda makes me want to go to sleep and dream me up a dreamboat (Mediterranean features, great smile, kind eyes, witty...). Thanks for sharing the joy of the "coincidence!"

  2. I like your dreamboat too, Ruth! I'm glad the reaction here and on Facebook has been this sort of thing and not "ye gods, you're a crazy chick, Diana!"

  3. What a wonderful way to be inspired. The most creative people I know confess to having very vivid dreams. Full technicolor with amazing detail and plot lines.

    How great that you can tap into that muse. On the other hand, how frustrating it must be when the muse doesn't show up.

    I look forward to the new book.

  4. I've always been vivid in the dream department all right, Eileen. And yes, although usually I have a muse handy, this past dry spell was getting frustrating indeed! Thanks for your encouragement on the project. :-)