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  • Writer's pictureA.K. Lee

About Nightmares and Dreams

What is in your mind when you are alone in the dark?

Confession time: I am a horror weenie. I don't watch horror movies, I nearly always fall for jump scares, and I used to have nightmares of Chucky (the TV series is supposedly really good, so go check it out if that's your thing).

When I was very little, possibly five or six years old, I watched Nightmare on Elm Street (or one of its sequels) as well as Child's Play by accident. What I mean by that is that my teenage cousin was watching the movies and we younger kids were in the same room, and that is how I was scarred for life. I cannot even picture myself lying on a water bed or having a doll in my home. (All my Pop Funkos are stuck in their boxes for my protection.)

I am still a horror weenie, but I am starting to venture into areas that are very much outside of my comfort zone. I credit Bryan Fuller's Hannibal series for leading me into the weird and wonderful world that horror can provide, a strange melding of the grotesque and the sublime. So many images that are, objectively speaking, terrifying and gross were presented in a way that brought out their beauty. For instance, a corrupt politician grafted into a living tree planted in the middle of a parking lot, with toxic flowers in bloom in his eviscerated torso should not only be disgusting but also impossible, and somehow viewers are led to marvel at this composition:

Which, in a very roundabout segue, leads me to ask if you have ever had a nightmare that on recall and reflection was breathtaking and beautiful?

When I was around sixteen years old, I had a recurring nightmare that, to the best of my recollection, took place in a building and everything was in black, white, or red. Like most of my dreams, it felt like a movie playing out, when I was sometimes the protagonist running for my life and sometimes the antagonist hunting myself down. And because it was a recurring dream, after I think the third or fourth time, I became the director of the dream - I would be able to distance myself from the events of the dream, consider what to do next, and then direct myself to behave in a certain manner or go in a specific direction. It was very odd. I can never remember the exact details of the dream, but I know it was in black, white, and red; I was in an old three-storey building; I was being chased by a vampire/I was the vampire chasing me. The visuals were stark and the atmosphere oppressive, and there was something devastatingly beautiful and sad about the crumbling building I was trapped in.

This brings me to novels. I am either remember every single plot detail or forget all of it and recall only the atmosphere present in the book. I have no memory of the literary classics or sci-fi epics I devoured in my late teens and early twenties, but I can tell you exactly what happened after Nanny Ogg got home from her trip to Genua (she terrorized her daughters-in-law by doing a home inspection). I think this is the same for most readers.

I wonder what sticks with my readers after they have read The Kaedin Secret? When I first began imagining my story, when it was just my dream alone, I was captured by the bond between Rilt and Kayle, and what it took to challenge that bond. There was a specific moment of romantic tension within the story that got me through some of the toughest writing and rewriting sessions. (It was the moment Rilt picked petals out of Kayle's hair, if you must know.) And the nightmare moment that stuck with me was just after the climactic scene, at the canal, when...

I'm not going to spoil my own book. Go borrow or purchase it.

If a novel is a dream that you have woven for your reader, then what do you want them to take from it?

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