On July 4th, 2008, I made one wrong move on a bicycle. The result? Stitches, a broken nose, two fractured teeth, and a serious downgrade in my ego. The complications of the broken nose persist even to this day.
But why I really told you this is because something happened at the ER that day that still fascinates me.
As it turns out, when you smack your face on the concrete and, subsequently, can’t remember your date of birth, you are immediately ushered to the front of the ER queue and given extra special attention.
A wheelchair. A heated blanket. A gurney in a private room. Another heated blanket. First dibs on the CAT machine. Did I mention those amazing heated blankets?!
Amidst all the fuss over my head injury, something strange kept happening.
“I’m dreaming while I’m awake,” I told my husband Kent. “Tell the doctor.”
He’d say something to comfort me and we’d start talking about something else when, all of a sudden, I’d say again, “I’m dreaming while I’m awake. Did you tell the doctor?”
Again, my husband would say something comforting like, “You’ll be fine. They’re gonna fix you.”
And the next thing I knew, I’d be dreaming again.
This cycle continued until, finally, Kent had had enough.
“How many times have you asked me that?” he huffed.
Tears filled my eyes and I cried, “I don’t know. I can’t remember.”
It took the rest of the day, but my brain finally went back to normal, memory intact, conscious dreaming ceased.
But that dreaming episode never left me. It was as if one part of my brain had fallen asleep and, as my awakened brain carried on a conversation, there like a semi-transparent overlay, my sleeping brain projected faint images over it so that I could experience both consciousness and sleep at the same time.
Anyway, I thought it was fascinating (although scary at the time) and I thought I’d share because it subtly relates to what I really wanted to share with you.
If you’ve read many of my posts or my first novel, Bordertown Gypsy, then you know that a lot of my inspirations for stories come from dreams. Whether this is always by Divine design or is sometimes accidental, I’m not sure, but it is what it is, and I love it this way.
Currently, I’m in the semi-final stages of completing a medieval fantasy Middle Grade novel and I have a confession to make: This story did not originate in a dream.
So, how did it come about?
Well, there’s this thing that happens nearly every time I get in the car with my kids. Usually, before I’m even buckled in, someone from the backseat hollers, “Tell us a story!”
My kids and I were perfectly matched for one another. I know that because of many things, one of which being they love to hear stories and I love to tell them. Furthermore, I enjoy crafting new stories and my children prefer a new one each time we get in the car. (For those of you doing the math, that typically amounts to two new stories a day and counting.)
I wish I could remember the day I first told them about the good king. I don’t remember where we were going or even what the weather was like, but something inspired in my brain that day to tell them about King Peter.
(Now, I will divulge that when I crafted my first King Peter story, I had just recently finished reading the Narnia series to my children, and I’m quite sure that’s why my brain decided on the name Peter, although at the time I did it without the conscious thought that I was doing that. At some point in the future, I tried to change the name of my stories’ namesake. I suggested Patrick or Michael or Henry or anything other than that of C.S. Lewis’ beloved high king. But do you remember that scene where Harry Potter and Dumbledore have just acquired the horcrux locket in the underground cave and then, when Harry goes to get a drink of water for Dumbledore from the lake, the Inferi awaken and climb out for their attack? Well, Peter’s name was the water and, when I disturbed it, my children clamored to attack me from the back seat with the fury and craze of a zombie army. So, I took it back. I took it all back. Every word I said. He’s Peter. There’s no other name for him. Please don’t eat my brain.)
Needless to say, it was clear to me at that point that my children had fallen in love with the good king. And, what would be a good children’s story without a child protagonist?
He’s mischievous. Naughty. Gets himself into heaps of trouble. And, somehow, he becomes King Peter’s most trusted knight.
Once our young hero was introduced, the beckon from the back seat quickly became, “Tell us another Rupert story!”
I entirely had no expectations that these random stories I was telling my children about King Peter and Rupert and their friends in the kingdom of Calloway would one day make it to the pages of a novel. After all, all my stories come from dreams, right? But The Good King and The Unexpected Knight (title subject to change!) is scheduled to debut in the upcoming months, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
And even though I told it to my kids while I was driving down the road, who’s to say it wasn’t a dream that came to me while I was awake? After all, that’s happened before.