I Dreamed Of Writing Novels…
And wound up writing novels about my dreams.
I do not call myself a “psychic,” because I am such a mediocre one. I don’t get to see what I want to see, necessarily (although with my help, my father has hit the Pick-Six at various racetracks, three times). Most of my visions play like living-color in my head. Sometimes it’s just a flash, other times I see several seconds’ worth of something about to happen very soon. I’ll give an example: when I was a blackjack dealer, the house would let me tell players ahead of time if they were going to get a blackjack, so they could (press) up their bets. The House had no faith in my ability, they just thought it would be a novelty. But then I did it so many times (and contrary to what the House thought would happen, my superstitious players ALL pressed their bets), that the Table Games Manager told me I had to stop. I was a high-stakes dealer and I was, apparently, giving away too much of the House’s money.
I’m sure there are eyes rolling out there, and some of you might think me crazy as pig knuckles, but before you judge me, let me tell you about my next novel, “Bodie” (releasing spring 2013). It is historical fiction (my genre), and it is based upon a true story–my own. Two sisters had identical repetitive dreams over the course of many years, and neither sister knew the other one was having them. They go to a past-life regression therapist, and she confirms the woman in the girls’ dream, Elise, was murdered, in 1878. It happened in the most violent town in America’s history, Bodie, California. This gold rush boom-town averaged a murder a day, due to bad weather, bad whiskey and bad men–but that’s only what they would have us believe. I don’t want to trigger a spoiler alert; suffice that the story is my psychic impression of what really happened, and why I believe the murdered woman could not rest in peace. She had unfinished business; something needed to be set right. I and my sister have not had the dream since I wrote the book, some seventeen years ago. I believe something about my story being published for all to see, is what gives Elise peace. So, is it fiction or did it happen?
My job as writer is to blur the lines; to leave the reader wondering where the history ends and the fiction begins. In so many places, I hit the nail squarely on its head. It was almost as if I had been there myself (I know, I know, that’s just crazy talk…right?) Truthfully, I lost track of what, in the book, is fiction and what isn’t, what is dreams and what is imagination. Sometimes I don’t know the answer, myself. In this same vein, I’m going to share with all of you something known only by a handful of people: Some of my psychic visions regarding Bodie have been documented by conventional methods. For an example: “Bodie” begins with the death of Robert Conway, a character I describe as one of my closest friends. The chapter has a truly unique story behind it. Here, goes:
In this tiny, tranquil beach-burg where I live, I ran into a woman named Myra. She told me she also had repetitive dreams. Coincidentally, her dream was also set in the old west. It was about a man driving a commercial-sized buckboard wagon through what looked to her to be desert land, and he was riding as though the devil was chasing him. She went to a regression therapist, just like the sisters in my story. It turns out that she was the man in her dream, and the man is her great-grandfather. He’d left Boston in search of gold in California, and never returned. Conventional research verifies a man named Robert Conway had lived in Bodie. He’d provided commercial wagon transport…and he’d been murdered. I let Myra read the first chapter of “Bodie”, and she told me it was her dream, exactly. Myra Conway Hood is in my Acknowledgements.
Understandably, I began to wonder about my other writings. I wrote my debut novel, “the thing with feathers,” after being haunted by a photograph. Once my novel was published, some 17 years later, I visited a photographer named Lorraine, who had inherited all of Clyde Hudson’s (my character Sean Marshall‘s inspiration) photographs. She let me look through boxes full and then she printed the ones I chose, which I intended to use in a scrapbook I would display at book signings. So many photos matched up with scenes in my book that it started getting a little “Twilight Zone.” Lorraine asked about the story and when I gave her a synopsis, she looked at me and said, “Oh boy, I hope you don’t get sued!”
Wait! I only modeled my character after Hudson in very general ways. Besides, Hudson wasn’t even married until he was in his 80’s, so there is no way the story could be too close to the truth. No way. I mean, there was some wisp of a mention that he may have been married once before as a very young man, but “the union didn’t take,” is all Hudson left for us on the subject, in his hand-typed memoir (also found in the attic). Lorraine knew a little more of the story, as she was friends with Hudson, and told me that when Hudson was a young man, he’d married a pregnant girl; very few people knew about it. Not even Lorrain knew whether Clyde was the father of the baby. When the girl had birthed her son, she promptly ran off. Hudson had tried to be a father to the boy but the girl’s family thwarted every effort. Lorraine said the girl’s father might have been a preacher. OMG! I am going to get sued–for being too psychic! That’s funny, because I am so God-awful at it, yet I may have buzzed real close to actual truth, here.
This is perhaps another reason why I write historical fiction, almost to exclusion. Apparently, I can’t help it.