by Lyn McConchie
(author of The Domen in Penumbra May issue)
I have always dreamed. Long dreams in full colour, audio, and often a complete story. It wasn’t until I began to write professionally that I found this useful as more than mere entertainment. My subconscious has always led its own life, as evinced by the dreams. Sometimes I can identify the strands that have gone into them, but sometimes I write out a dream, look at the result and wonder where on Earth (or anywhere else) that came from!
The second story I ever sold was from a dream, a slightly mad tale about a parking meter who disliked life in a big city. He went to live in a small country town where he is valued because he stands guard over parking spaces reserved for the disabled and ensures that they are saved for legitimate users. And yes, I can identify where that came from. I'm crippled, have a display card for such parking spaces and am often infuriated to find them filled by cars not displaying the required card. This story sold to two markets, however, so I got something out of my on-going frustration over the problem.
Another dream-story was a flash fiction tale on the origin of the Saluki, dog) and which sold in four markets in two countries. In fact, and on checking my story list, dream-stories always sell, and usually several times. Three of my books have begun from a dream. The first book I sold in America "The Key of the Keplian" was started by one of the main characters showing up in a dream and introducing herself. The book went on from there.
I write steadily, 1-3 books, 10-20 new stories, a number of articles, a few poems, some reviews, and my blogposts each year. But my dream-stories are my favorites. They weren't written just from my imagination, they were lived in full color, with “live” characters, dialogue, and a background. The story that appeared in the May issue of Penumbra was a dream-tale, as was a story that last year won the International Cat Writer's Muse Medallion. Dream-stories often seem to have that 'certain extra something.'
Of course, I have to move quickly to catch the dreams before they vanish, but after more than twenty years of professional writing I am adept at doing so. I think that many writers dream this way, some may not like to admit that's where they get plots, others may not remember the dreams, but if you can catch that dream by the tail, hold it long enough to write down a synopsis and recreate the dream, you often have something worth recounting.
So where does my speculative fiction come from? All of it comes from my imagination with aspects of real life woven in, but now and again the story you're reading may have arrived by an alternate route. And usually they're some of the best.