Dreams have always been an integral part of my creative process. I dream vividly, at length, and regularly. For a time during my youth, I imagined that everyone dreamed in the same way that I did. It wasn’t until open dialogue about dreaming, with friends and family, that I discovered dream patterns can be very different for every individual. I was stunned, frankly, to learn that some people don’t even remember their dreams when they wake. The thought was strange to me, mostly because my own dreams were so lucid, regular, and often left a deep impression on me. There have been many days of my life where the previous night’s dreams have affected my mood throughout the entire day.
When I was younger, I suffered through something called Incubus Attacks (though I didn’t know what they were at the time). An Incubus Attack occurs when there is discord between the sleeping mind and the sleeping body. The results can be quite terrifying because, essentially, you can dream when your body is awake.
These episodes didn’t happen erratically, and spontaneously, during the day. It’s not as if I had a form of schizophrenia. Incubus Attacks usually take place in the time when your mind is transitioning to sleep, or transitioning awake. It’s as if the world of dream bleeds slightly into the conscious world.
I was four years old the first time I can remember having an Incubus Attack. I had awaked in the middle of the night, and for one reason or another, left my bed. I looked out the window and saw, at a distance, Grover. Yes, Grover from Sesame Street. Grover turned, looked at me, and then began running toward my window, screaming and flailing his arms. Naturally, I began screaming, and my parents found me crying below the window in my bedroom.
I experienced many Incubus Attacks in my youth, but not all were so lively. Mostly, I would feel something touching me that wasn’t there, or I could hear someone yelling at me that wasn’t there. These specific attacks would usually occur as I transitioned to sleep.
The last graphic Incubus Attack I remember took place when I was fifteen. I woke in the middle of the night and sat up in bed. I looked into the corner of my room and found an orb, glowing and floating about four feet off of the ground. As I watched it, it shot a red laser beam toward the foot of my bed. I got out of bed and walked over to the light switch, which was at the other side of the bedroom, all the while keeping my eye on the orb. When I turned the light switch on, the orb was gone. I was alone, standing in my bedroom, wondering what was happening to me. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I came across the term and realized that I had been having Incubus Attacks as a child.
Though the attacks stopped, my spirited dreaming did not. I would have to say that I have always had rich dreams on a nightly basis, with rare exception. However, it wasn’t until I began writing that I found a way to make my dreams work for me. In fact, the first two chapters of Everflame were from a dream I had. In the dream, I was Evercloud, the helpless child. I was prisoner to the events going on around me, and I can remember having some distinct connection with the bears that controlled my fate. The dream didn’t detail everything that I’ve written in those chapters, but I can still recall the memory of the mountain and the flame to this day.
As an adult, the types of dreams I have are what I call video game dreams. I’m usually in some life or death situation, where the circumstances are very fantastical, and I have to find some special object, or defeat some evil foe. Very often, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. I suppose I didn’t have much of a choice but to become a fantasy adventure writer.
The book I’m currently working on, The Dean Machine, has a lot of influence from my dreaming as well. The impetus for the book was a real-life event that affected me deeply, however much of the plotline comes directly from my dreams. I can remember being the main character of The Dean Machine, Dan Delacor. I can still feel the panic that overtook me as I ran from the great wall of Yellow City, running as far as I could from the clutches of the evil Chancellor Elgrey Vinsidian. I can remember, quite vividly, the confusion of wandering with my little dog, Dean, not knowing where we were. I can remember the sickness in my stomach as I discovered that I was… well, I won’t ruin it for you. Besides, the book is not finished, and who knows what I might dream up tonight.
And I suppose that’s the truth of my writing, and the source of my imagination. I have no method, no tactics, and no brainstorming techniques. I dream. I simply lay my head down and immerse myself in the unknown. I’ll try to keep you apprised of what I find.