Guest blogger: Jennifer Brassel
Dreaming the book
People often ask writers what inspires their stories? It is a very broad question that most authors find difficult to answer. The assumption, I think, is that elements of your daily life trigger plots and characters that come to life in a book. But in my case I don’t believe that is the case. I am a dreamer.
My dreams (those night-time escapades that we sometimes remember only fleetingly) are a big contributor to what you read in my books. That’s not to say real life, or history, aren’t trigger points. I am an avid history nut, as well as being a ‘lay’ psychoanalyst who observes people closely—all authors must be if they want to draw their characters well.
But it is when I dream, and the fragments that seep into my waking life, that have the most impact on my stories because of how they can bend reality. The magical can become real and believable.
I don’t know about anyone else, but when I saw the movie Inception the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end the entire time. Not because it was scary or disturbing—but because I knew somehow the writer/director (Christopher Nolan) had been inside my head while I slept. And while the scenarios weren’t exactly what I have dreamed, many of the themes and ideas were.
In my ARRA finalist book, Secret Reflection, I took one of those scenarios I’d dreamed and tailored it into the story. The real life trigger was a discussion I had with my computer nerd son about time travel, nanotechnology, circuit boards that use living cells as power sources, the eventuality of implants and 3D printing. All highbrow stuff then (some years ago) but some have since been borne out with progress. Still waiting on time travel … but who knows?
For several nights after that conversation, I dreamed about the combination of human elements (cells/personalities etc) integrating with objects of our daily lives. I only remembered snippets of those dreams, but it got me thinking about a personality being trapped within some of those objects and what a psychological separation from our human self could do to relationships.
I eventually came up with a mirror as the object in question because throughout history, mirrors have held a particular significance to perception about ourselves and others. This is where the psychoanalysis bit comes in. A mirror tells us whether or not we like ourselves. Classic ‘bad hair day’ stuff comes to mind. But from Narcissus to Snow White, the mirror also looks beneath to our motivations … and despite what we might want to think, we cannot hide from or own reflection.
But what if the mirror contains something truly unexpected and not a reflection? Can we love what we see there even if it flawed? These are some of the underlying questions I ask in that book.
In Trust in Dreams I use the dream element as the device to explore the main character, Elizabeth’s, motivations. And dreams reveal the mystery behind The Curse. So it seems I cannot escape that side of myself.
I am also fascinated by history, and though thoroughly researched, I still dream many of the plot twists that I write into my historical books. Look out for my upcoming release Warrior King from Caliburn Press (date yet to be announced) which explores the life and loves of the Egyptian Pharoah I introduced in The Curse.
I’d love to hear what readers think of their dreaming selves, and how much their dreams affect their daily pursuits.
Trust in Dreams
Her wildest dream…or her most dreaded nightmare?
Though exhausted from months of overwork, Dr. Elizabeth Reynolds responds immediately when she’s asked to check on a fellow hotel guest with a migraine. In her professional, such requests aren’t unusual.
What is unusual is waking up to find herself living her secret dream—passion with a man she doesn’t know. Worse, he’s the last kind of man she’d ever trust again. An actor.
Chris Grant has more secrets than a mystery script, including a yearning to find someone who’ll love him for himself, not his fame and fortune. When an angelic woman turns up in his bed after another of his debilitating migraines, for an instant he thinks he’s found her.
Except the woman of his dreams avoids actors like the plague. And before he knows it, she’s run back home to her safe life, determined to refocus on her career. If Chris is to win her heart, he’ll have to reveal his deepest secret, and pray she’ll see it as a sign they are meant for each other—and not a betrayal.
You can buy Trust in Dreams here.
Jennifer never planned to be a writer. Growing up she wanted to be an artist and art teacher and though she still draws and paints, her focus has become fiction – something she thinks she was born to do.
Marrying a very successful journalist, whose fascination with cutting edge technology provided the tools to become a writer, made the transition easy.
After completing a history degree and having two wonderful kids, she took those tools and began playing with words. Not long after, her first romances were released, Trust in Dreams and Honour Bound.
Her third novel, a Young Adult fantasy adventure Coins of Power hit the shelves in 2010. At the same time, she decided to better hone her craft with a Masters degree in Creative Writing. Two further romances followed: Secret Reflection and The Curse both of which were ARRA Award finalists.
The study brought about a slight change in direction for her writing and she currently divides her time between ancient Egyptian historicals novels, modern ghost stories with a twist and fantasies aimed at the 10 to 14-year-old age group.
Along the way she has taught creative writing at community colleges and writing centres as well as meditation workshops for writers.
Jennifer has won (and placed) in a number of international writing competitions and served as first treasurer, then president, of Romance Writers of Australia.