A Dinosaur Dream Come True
by Andrew Bourelle
Writing for Rhonda Parrish’s D is for Dinosaur anthology was a dream come true.
I know: what a cliché, right?
Yes, but please hear me out.
It was indeed a dream to be included in the anthology. I’ve been a fan of the alphabet anthologies ever since first cracking A is for Apocalypse. And I’d been hoping to work with Rhonda Parrish for a while too. However, that’s not the what I’m referring to.
I’m referring to the story—it came to me in a dream.
At least the idea did.
I’d been kicking around a few ideas for months. I was excited about two ideas in particular, and I was having trouble deciding which one to choose. Both were sort of urban fantasy/horror stories. (Sorry, I don’t want to tell you any more details because I might still write them someday!) I had been reading and writing a lot of mysteries at the time, and I thought writing a surreal, strange, and horrific dinosaur story would be a nice break for me. But I was working on a larger project, and I just couldn’t devote the time to start either idea. As the D is for Dinosaur deadline loomed nearer, I kept thinking, “I’ve got to get started writing. Just choose an idea and see where it takes you.”
Then one night I woke from a strange dream. I often have what I call “movie dreams.” I dream as if I’m watching a movie. I’m often not a character in the story, just a floating consciousness observing what happens to others. In a way, it’s like floating around inside a short story—it comes from my imagination but I’m not a part of it. I’ve dreamed new storylines for James Bond or sequels to the Wolverine films. And I’ve also dreamed narratives that come out of nowhere. Often, I’ll think to myself in a half-awake state at three o’clock in the morning that I need to remember this dream so I can write it down. Then I wake up and have either forgotten what happened in the dream or I take a closer look at it with my fully awake mind and realize that what seemed like a great story was in fact incomprehensible nonsense.
In the case of this dream, I woke up and knew: Here’s my story!
The only problem was that I couldn’t quite remember everything: just the concept, the main character, the neo-noir tone. As I find with most dreams, I was left more with a feeling than a story.
But I had what I needed: the seed of an idea, my MacGuffin.
A new drug.
The drug is referred to in the story simply by its street name “Y.” I describe it as “an opiate mixed with cocaine alkaloid and crushed dinosaur bones.”
What if such a drug existed? What would people do to get their hands on it?
After waking up from the dream, before thinking too much about it, I sat down and wrote the first draft in one day. I hadn’t taken the break from mystery writing after all. I’d just found a way to put dinosaur into a mystery story.
I have found that when I think a lot about a story before writing it, I often have trouble coming up with the words. But if I have just a seed of an idea, a blurry fog of a story that I haven’t thought about too much, the words pour out more easily. I find it harder to think before I write. I’m better when I’m thinking as I’m writing. Or, more accurately, when writing is thinking.
That was the case with my D is for Dinosaur entry. The idea came from a dream state, the story spilled out of my fingertips into the keyboard, and poof! there was my story.
A dream come true.
Or, more accurately, a sleep dream turned into fictional dream.
I hope readers have as much fun with the story as I had dreaming it up.
Press play on this here file to hear Andrew read a short (less than a minute long) excerpt from his story 🙂
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