Unlocking Stories and the Key to The Dream Alchemist
by Joanna Chambers
One thing I’ve come to realise about my writing is that sometimes my ideas have to brew for a while. I usually do a whole pile of plotting and characterisation up front, but quite often, once that phase is over, I’ll put those plans aside and go back to an older idea and take that forward instead.
Like my other novels, The Dream Alchemist was conceived and plotted out in detail several years before I wrote it. I remember the flurry of initial energy I expended on it. It was February and I was on a family holiday. The living room of our rented cottage had a real fire and the evenings were spent—after the children went to bed—scribbling down the nuts and bolts of my world of dreams, Somnus, in a little notebook in front of the flames.
When the holiday was over, I wrote a chunk of the story, maybe 15k—but… it felt off. And anyway, by then another, older idea had grabbed me by the throat, so I abandoned it. The older idea became the Enlightenment trilogy, so it was three books later and late 2013 before I picked up The Dream Alchemist again, and at that point, when I reread both my notes and the 15k chunk I’d written, I saw why I’d fallen out of love with it years before: one of my main characters was all wrong.
I had no issue with the other main character—Laszlo Grimm. Him I could see needle-sharp, and I loved the central idea of him—a man who doesn’t experience emotion. A man who cannot feel. But the other main character just wasn’t clicking with me. That’s the good thing about having a fallow period with a story—it gives you that little bit of perspective. I ripped huge chunks out of that old, partial draft and began searching for a new main character
And that’s when Bryn Llewelyn came to me: a messed-up, strung-out drop-out with a penchant for silver rings and leather bracelets. A guy whose dreamwalking abilities impact on his real world life by muting his senses, inhibiting his appetites. A man who—like Laszlo Grimm—cannot feel, although his problem is with sensation, rather than emotion.
Finding Bryn was the key to unlocking this story. The parallels and contrasts around him and Laszlo excited me, and I rewrote that original chunk quickly, then rattled off the rest of the first draft pretty quickly (for me) thanks to those old detailed blueprints. The revisions were hell, of course, but they always are 😉
I like to think Bryn was always there, in those notes and in that draft, fighting to be seen. Or maybe just waiting for me to see him.
About The Dream Alchemist
Centuries ago, a man with Bryn Llewelyn’s dreamwalking ability would have been a shaman or a priest. In this time, he’s merely exhausted, strung out on too much caffeine and too little sleep.
Sleep means descent into Somnus—an alternate reality constructed of the combined dreaming consciousness of ordinary humans. A place he’d rather avoid. Trouble is, his powers don’t include the ability to go without sleep indefinitely. At some point his eyes close…and his nightmare begins.
As a teen, the treatment that cured Laszlo Grimm’s sleep disorder stole his dreams—and his ability to feel emotion. Petrified of needing more “treatment”, he clings to familiar rituals and habits. But lately his nightly terror has returned, and when he meets Bryn in the real world, the man seems hauntingly familiar. Not only that, Bryn awakens feelings in Laszlo for the first time in years…
Slowly Bryn and Laszlo realize they are both unknowing pawns in a plan of unspeakable evil. And that their powerful attraction could release the destinies locked within them—or be the instrument of their doom.
About Joanna Chambers
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write but she didn’t find her muse until she rediscovered her love of romance novels after the birth of her first child. These days, Joanna lives in the UK with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture. You can find Joanna at her website, www.joannachambers.com, friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @ChambersJoanna and connect with her on Goodreads.
As part of this blog tour, Joanna is giving away an ebook copy of The Dream Alchemist and a $25 Giftcard to winner’s book retailer of choice!! To enter, just leave a comment! Don’t forget to include your email in the comment or the author won’t be able to contact you.
Don’t forget to check out Gyn’s review of The Dream Alchemist to see what she thought of it!