I am a big believer that fantasy novels should be as original as you can make them, and not simply some recycled Tolkienesque campaign world complete with elves and dwarves. I also like the kind of novels where characters from our world find their way into a fantasy realm, such as in The Chronicles of Narnia and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
To that end I decided to write a fantasy trilogy inspired by the idea of reaching a fantasy realm through the doorway of dreaming. At first, of course, the point is that the dreamers don’t realise that what they have seemingly dreamt around is real. Such sort of revelations should take time to occur.
The heroes of the three novels are all normal people, six students who have formed a club to study lucid dreaming. I like placing ordinary people in extraordinary places. As a person I can relate far more easily to some student than to some Cimmerian warrior. An author should write what he knows about, and I have known plenty of students over the years (although I hasten to add that the six heroes of this work are not based on any real people whom I have known).
The funny thing is, although I recall planning these three novels out, and writing the first few thousand words of All You Have To Do Is Dream, I have no real recollection of finishing them off. Maybe I lost the memories as a result of my breakdown. Or perhaps I dreamt the three novels into completion…
Extract from The Dreamers
The same song was playing on the radio. Claire clicked her fingers along to the beat. It was a nice, summery sound. It matched the hot weather. The sun beat down on the long, empty road, the heat haze distorting the distance, sending a shimmer across her vision. She vaguely wondered where the radio was, as she started to walk along the road. Her legs knew where she was going. It was a dream, after all. Nothing bad could happen to you in a dream.
That was what she thought. How naïve she was, back then, at the start of it.
She carried on down the road, not knowing where it led, not caring where it led. It had to read somewhere. All roads had to lead somewhere. That was what they were for.
The road ran out where the trees ran out. She stood on scrub land. The breeze was stronger, and she shivered, because it was suddenly cool. She shivered in her dream, and she shivered in her bed.
The road behind her was gone. There was only the heath. But such sudden melding of scenery is not uncommon in dreams, as one vista shifts to the next.
She was not alone. The others were there, the other members of the club which had been christened the Dreamers. Claire, Alec, Dave, Karen, Gareth and Sarah: all six of them had been led to this barren heath, with its spare heather and blasted ground, a large black mark on the bare earth where it had been struck by some bolt of lightning and nothing would grow. The six of them should have realised that they were in a dream – that they had achieved their intent and were in a shared dream – but they did not realise that they were dreaming. As far as they were concerned, they were living their lives, and they had always been in this land.
All of them, except for Claire herself and Alec, were in armour of some form, a combination of chain and plate and hard leather, burnished brightly, and shining in the sun. But Clair was in robes, some kind of clerical vestments which did not feel that clean. She found them itchy, and uncomfortable, and they were badly in need of some fabric conditioner. But the robes which Alec wore were different, being black satin, with silver magical symbols sewn into the surface.
Dave was talking about some coming quest which they had coming up. Claire listened as best as she could, although she would only be able to remember fragments of what was said when she finally woke up. But isn’t that the way with dreams? And some people fail to remember anything at all.
Dave was telling them that they had to rid the land, (name forgotten), of the monsters which had come to inhabit it, and turn this once great realm towards evil. There were goblins in the mountains, and trolls in the hills, and giant spiders in the woods (ugh! Claire hated spiders. She could not even get them out of the bath. She was definitely not going into those woods, not without some giant, rolled up newspaper. They had far too many legs for any creature which was alive).
Dave was the most heavily armoured of them, wearing plate armour, which was about as far as Claire’s knowledge of medieval (or fantasy) armour went. She could no more have identified the individual pieces which made up his suit of armour (whether sleeping or awake) than she could have flown to the moon. The others (who weren’t in robes) were in what she thought of as chain mail, though more properly just called mail. Gareth, though, was not wearing any metal armour, but was dressed all in hard leather. It kind of suited him, thought Claire, although she had never had any romantic thoughts concerning Gareth before. He had several pouches around his waist, suspended from a belt (leather, natch) which made Claire think of the camp 1960s TV Batman and his utility belt.
Dave was still talking. Was he the leader of this group? He certainly seemed to think so, although Clair had always thought that Alec was the most intelligent of the two of them. But Dave was a man of action, while Alec was a man of thought. The words which Dave was saying didn’t seem to make all that much sense to Claire, though. It was all about getting some bad guy who had brought evil into this land, causing much of it to be ruined. So there was a war going on, and they were the soldiers.
Claire tried to concentrate on what Dave was saying, but only about one word in three penetrated her dreaming mind. Which was a shame, as it was probably the best speech which Dave had ever given. And there was not a single mention of going down the pub, either.
She could feel the breeze on her face, the sun overhead (although grey clouds threatened its shine, clouds which Shakespeare might have described as ‘louring’). But the physicality which her brain was telling her she felt was no less a construct because of that.
Claire felt in a pocket of her robes, realising that there was something big and clunky in there. She reached in, wondering what it was, and hoping that it wasn’t anything nasty. She pulled out a cross, of sorts, but with a loop at the top – it was an ankh, but an ankh which appeared to have been made out of solid silver. Claire didn’t know much about an ankh, except that this symbol was all bound up with the beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians. She thought that it meant ‘spirit’, but she wasn’t sure about that. So, whatever sort of priest she was supposed to be, she wasn’t a Christian one, then. Probably one of those New Age fools, who believed in crystal healing, aromatherapy, the magic powers of water, and other such junk. Still, that silver crucifix must be worth a bomb. Claire intended to get it valued when she got back to her own world.
All You Have To Do Is Dream, Beyond The Dream and The Last Enemy are available as e-books on the Amazon Kindle store.