Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I'm Scary


I barely ever remember my dreams, and I'm tortured by this, because every so often, awakening suddenly, I find my mind filled with strange narrative. With story! It never happens in the morning to sunshine and the sound of the dog farting himself awake at the foot of the bed -- only when I'm jarred from sleep as suddenly as a yanked thread. And when I DO remember my dreams, I'm never in them. There are... characters... in them. These dreams are haunting little movies, propelled along by something not unlike plot. I say "haunting" because I have an overdeveloped sense of creep. I adore horror. As a child I used to beg to watch scary movies. Ghosts? Vampires? Gimme!

Last year when Jim and I were in Prague, I had one of my creepy story dreams and it has slowly been piecing itself together in my mind, taking the eventual form of, I think, a novella. I am so in love with the weird sneaky nastiness of the premise I can't wait to write it -- but I'm busy on other projects now. Perhaps I'll steal some time from myself. Perhaps it will have to wait its turn.

The Drowned also was born in a dream. I woke and lay in bed with my eyes open in the darkness, thinking over what I had just glimpsed: a man was walking in a storm, at the coast, at night.He sought shelter in a damp village at the edge of the sea. But it was no ordinary village... and he fell asleep there only to wake when the tide came rushing in to swallow the place, taking him and all the rest of the damned with it. Ick. Yum. Right up my alley. I didn't know who the strange women were who would live in a village that was underwater at all but the lowest tides, but Jim & I got to talking about it one day, and Jim came up with the idea that made the whole story snick into place (I love that "snick" -- you know, you can hear it and feel it when the pieces finally fall into place with your writing). I won't give the snick away here, in case anyone wants to read it, but anyway, that was the beginning. I wrote a script for a graphic novel, Jim illustrated it, it was published by Image Comics in 2004. You can see more about it here and here. It was so much fun collaborating with Jim, receiving the first books from the publisher, signing them in a booth at Comicon.

I don't know about other people, but when I wake from creepy dreams I reach out and try to gather in all the pieces so I don't lose a single scary detail. They delight me. I wonder if I have them every night and just don't have the luck to wake in the middle of them very often? But what if I did? What if I found I had story dreams playing like nighttime TV endlessly in my mind? I already have a queue of stories and novels I want to write -- and I'm a SLOW writer. I'd better let myself sleep!

21 comments:

Jim Di Bartolo said...

Yeah! I love being first to comment! :)

I second Laini in saying that it was AMAZING collaborating together on this creepy little tale (The Drowned graphic novel--oh, and the cover on the Amazon.com site was a promo piece, which was quickly replaced by the cover seen on the second link).

As one of the only people to have read the first couple of chapters of the story Laini mentioned in speaking of our Prague trip, I just need to say that that story BEGS and SCREAMS to be cut in line and plopped toward the front of it -- it's fantastic and I get (honestly!) chills whenever I pick it up and re-read it.

Anyhow, for now other things have to take precedence, but I'm looking forward to that day...

If anyone DOES get a wild hair to pick up a copy of The Drowned, I ONLY ask that you NOT flip ahead and spoil the end! The visuals of the last third or so of the book will ruin one of the big reveals (it'd be like watching the last 20 minutes of a mystery movie and then starting over again from the beginning and expecting the same thrills as if you hadn't ruined the experience). Anyhow, that's my nag and I'm sticking to it! :)

Thanks,
Jim

megg said...

WOW - you are so exciting to read about - when I first met you I also met your pretty ladies - the lovely angels or faeries who danced and sang across your website in lovely colours and swirls - and then today I come here to see a picture that gave me chills before I had read a word. I murmered 'scary' out loud as I scrolled down to read what it was about. I LOVE that about you - you love so much of magic - the darkness AND the light that are there when we look for them. I'd really love to read your book but if the COVER frightened me... I think I'll have to read it with the lights ON in the middle of the day. Thank you so much for showing this today. I am even MORE impressed!!

Living Part Deux said...

Oooooo. I used to be afraid to scare myself. No horror movies for me. But something has happened (must be hormones), and suddenly I love to have chills up my back. I would love to read your book and see Jim's creepy illustrations!

I also have trouble sometimes remembering dream details, while other times they are clear in their absurdity. Last night I dreamed I went to Oprah's for Thanksgiving dinner, only to find out she expected me to help with the cooking and serving, not to BE served as a guest. She also wanted to use all my crystal and China, which she passed off as her own. Sounds pretty horrific - don't you think?

Bohemian Girl said...

ooooh...this is dripping with coolness!

i resonate with waking up from a dream~story. that has been happening so much to me lately that i told my hubs i really need to get a dream journal, because unlike you, they slip from my mind in a matter of a few hours upon waking.

i illustration of The Drowining with the woman and the skull is haunting and beautiful all in the same.

this would be fun to read with my hubs together.

you're inspiring!

la vie en rose said...

i would love to wake up to a novella...but not a scary one...i don't do scary well.

liz elayne said...

the complexities of who you are continue to reveal themselves here. dreaming of stories that need to be shared. incredible. i love this laini. you have such a gift and you share it with the world.
my husband will love learning about The Drowned. right up his alley!

andrea said...

And I was having such a sweet, boring day up till now! :) I dream vividly and sometimes hate waking up. I often try and 'recapture' the good ones...

Somnambulist Seeker said...

Waking up with narrative in my head happens to me periodically, but unfortunately it's always someone else's book. :-)

I think the most recent really fabulously narrative dream was a couple of months ago when I was reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods, (which is an awesome book).

My dream basically took a section of the book and ran with it, fleshing out aspects of the story that Neil hadn't covered. It was one of the most vivid dreams I'd had in years, and was c-o-o-o-o-l.

Funny how writing & dreams go together so naturally.

GoGo said...

Oh, lover of the macabre. I love a good scary story, though these days I temper myself from watching them by myself...I have a tendency to freak myself out more.

What would be your ab fab scariest event, story, or movie ever?

Colorsonmymind said...

I sometimes have scary dreams, unfortunately I am the star and it seems so real sometimes I have a hard time getting back to sleep it seems so real.

I loved horror movies as a teenager, and sometimes still enjoy them, just not as much.

I will never forget seeing the first nightmare on elm street in the theatre and screaming outloud with my girlfriends in terror.

That was fun!

Terri /Tinker said...

I LOVE scary stories/books - scary movies, not so much - a lot of the newer ones tend to depend on visual gore. All the slice & dice puts me off my popcorn...But I love the ones that send chills down your spine with that psychological "what if..." twist! The Drowned sounds pretty darned intriguing (and no, Jim, I would NEVER, EVER spoil it for myself by sneaking a peek!)
I've really got to start keeping a dream journal again - thanks for inspiring me!

kelly rae said...

i totally envisioned you reading this entry in that spooky voice that we all use to tell ghost stories...which made reading it really fun. i'm not a creepy dreamer, though i used to suffer from terrible nightmares in my childhood/young adulthood. reading your post made me realized that i should have thought of them as good story lines instead of being so scared by them. nowadays i very often have dreams that wake me up laughing or with an idea i must jot down in my handy little journal at the bedside. it happened just the other nite and i so love it when it happens. great story. i think i may have to check out The Drowned!

kelly rae said...

i totally envisioned you reading this entry in that spooky voice that we all use to tell ghost stories...which made reading it really fun. i'm not a creepy dreamer, though i used to suffer from terrible nightmares in my childhood/young adulthood. reading your post made me realized that i should have thought of them as good story lines instead of being so scared by them. nowadays i very often have dreams that wake me up laughing or with an idea i must jot down in my handy little journal at the bedside. it happened just the other nite and i so love it when it happens. great story. i think i may have to check out The Drowned!

forgottenmachine said...

Came via shesawriter, stayed because I noted a love of gypsies and vampires, and will return after seeing that finally, someone else dreams in the same way that I do.

I seldom remember a dream, but when I do I am never in it. It's always a story unfurling before my disbelieving eyes.

Cate said...

I love a scary dream--that indescribeable tension and mood that leaves you breathless just after you wake up.

Such an interesting post, Laini. Love to see how your dreams relate to your creativity.

And this line: "What if I found I had story dreams playing like nighttime TV endlessly in my mind?" So spooky yet intriguing. Itself, a plot for a book!

melba said...

So cool to see that illustrated comic. A very different side of you. Wow!
My husband always wants to watch scary movies...I don't even want to watch the previews...I don't like scary.
I have scary dreams, but I hate them. I am always trying to scream but either nothing comes out of my mouth or I have no mouth...very scary. Yuck!

Swirly said...

A lot of times when I have scary dreams I know I'm in a dream and I'm literally telling myself to wake up, and many times I wake up in a gasp, heart pounding. It usually happens when I am too hot. Your story sounds fascinating and I love the cover image.

Bradley Egel said...

Always write down your dreams and take them collectively...a week at a time..sometimes they connect!


Bradley
The Egel Nest

chest of drawers said...

I could swear I left a comment here...anyway, all this horror is wayyyyy too scary for me - my kids would love it though!

holli said...

I adore horror, but not when I'm by myself at home and I wake from a nightmare.. I usually try to shake the dream immediately, because mine are so FREAKY!! I'll send them your way in the future!

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