I still get nightmares.
Not so much lately, they seem to have mellowed out a bit and found better prey once I hit my thirties, but they’re still around. Lurking. Even though I don’t like them much, I can at least appreciate them; anything that can make my heart boom that fast and hard is pure platinum for a writer. Payment required? A mere childhood of dashing off the living room floor anytime a scary scene even thought about flashing across the television screen. Even scary music would have me peeping through splayed fingers.
And that’s what it’s all about, right? Booming hearts? Sitting up in your bed when you get to that scene, a little smile tugging at the corners of your mouth, your mind thinking, Oh my God, this is awesome, please don’t die, two hours of sleep is plenty of time… That’s what I live for when I read a book. Heart-booming. Somebody once asked me to distill into one word exactly the emotion that I wanted to evoke in my readers when I began writing DRYNN. It was hard because there were so many feelings dancing around in my head that I wanted to share, but okay, one word. I could do that. Same way I had to have a one-line pitch at a moment’s notice. So, here it is, the one word…ready for it?
That’s what I wanted to evoke. I want somebody to go up to their friend, yank the Kindle out from said friend’s hand, clickity-clack in carinapress.com, command them to put in their password and get the book. And when it’s done I want that ‘somebody’ to go buy said friend a cafe mocha and talk about it. Pie-in-the-sky stuff, really. I once heard the saying, “Shoot for the moon, maybe you’ll fall in the stars,” something like that? I figured, why not shoot for the Andromeda Galaxy instead of the moon and land someplace on Neptune? Might as well, right?
I believe I may have done just that. Neptune City.
Speaking of one-lines, here’s DRYNN’s: The heroes of two worlds reluctantly join forces to fight the Lord of the Underworld. Ta-da.
So, genesis #1—harnessing the power of nightmares, pouring that emotion into a basin within my mindscape, modifying it as I see fit (exhilaration, passion, fear, all the things that boom hearts) and forging stories with high tension.
Genesis #2–inspiration. Every writer has their muse, mine’s music. Notice the first three letters by the way. Interesting, huh? When I hear a song, I see a scene instantly—two cars roaring down the highway, weaving and crashing; a small, anguish-filled shake of the head as tears spill; an electric ripple under the skin summoned by a brush of fingers—I just see it. And I have to write about it. I immediately start fleshing things out—who are the players? Who’s getting chased? Is it an affair or a first crush? Is the creature from this world or some other? And what would lightning wreathed in pale blue flames smell like?
Donald Maass (who’s counsel I hold in high regard) calls these scenes ‘uranium isotopes’. When I say the movie, AMERICAN HISTORY X, what’s the first scene that comes to mind? The curb scene, no question about it. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya…” do I need to finish? Every great story has them, no matter what vehicle used to tell it–movie, novel, novella, play–pick your ambrosia. The coolest thing, a thing I am most grateful for, humbled by, a blessing bequeathed, is that I get these scenes and ideas every day; I actually conjured a whole book (yet to be written but in the noggin) by a single song. I think of myself as a reservoir, a wellspring of feelings, concepts and bits of dialogue that just…bubble out of me. Consider yourself invited to drink.
I’d like to share something with you. While looking for a CD the other day (yes, I still have my black leather zipper-closed CD holders) I stumbled upon my sacred box. I’ve had it since childhood. Within it is contained every story I ever wrote as a kid, every paper I ever got an A in, and one of my greatest treasures…
Left hand side, 7th grade, 42 pages on 42 blank restaurant placemats, the first story I ever wrote. On the right…DRYNN, my first published novel.
I’ve waited my whole life for this.
I hope you think DRYNN’s as badass as I do.