I should probably make one thing clear before I really begin – I have NO problem sleeping. None whatsoever. I remember years ago UK TV did a show called Touch The Truck which had been brought over from the States. It was probably even in pre-Channel 5 years so they can’t be blamed. It involved a bunch of contestants who had to stay awake for as long as they could while, well, touching a truck. If they took their hand off for any moment, or fell asleep while standing up, they were out. The winner won … the truck. It was streamed live and, I might be wrong, but I think the contestants lasted four days. I have no idea why on earth someone thought this would make exciting television but there you go.
While I constantly hanker over going on The Amazing Race or Survivor, despite my inadequacy at wearing bikinis, I would be utterly useless at Touch The Truck. Unless it was how long can you sleep for while touching the truck. I’d be pretty awesome at that. The one thing I am very, very good at is sleeping for long periods of time.
I don’t often remember my dreams. Most of the ones I do remember are fairly generic: teeth falling out dreams – yep. Dying dreams – yep. Sex dreams – yep. Naked in a crowd of people dreams – actually, no, but there’s still time. I do also occasionally get recurring dreams. They’re never exactly the same and they’re usually months, sometimes even years apart. They tend to be tied by place – there was a series of dreams I had all set in the same old house with secret corridors and hidden rooms. Those stopped in my mid-twenties. Nowadays, I have recurring dreams on a snowy mountain side. They always involve skiing in some way and they’re always on the same mountain but every other detail is different. I don’t analyse them too hard though. Whenever I get the dream again, it just feels a bit like re-visiting an old friend I’ve not seen for ages.
My joy of sleeping is what makes me feel so terribly sympathetic towards people who have so much trouble with it. For a while my dad had a girlfriend who had terrible insomnia. He’d go to bed and she would stay up all night cleaning. It absolutely baffled me. Even that, however, was nothing compared to the time I went on a group holiday to Indonesia to see orangutans in the wild (bloody amazing – if you ever get the chance then go!). I was sharing a room with an American girl from Washington who had sleep apnea. She’d warned me about it beforehand but when she stopped breathing several times in the middle of the night, I completely freaked.
When I was writing Blood Destiny, and looking for legendary monsters to include, I came across the Batibat. I was so fascinated, in fact, that I ended up giving her a starring role. As an old hag who lives in trees and suffocates people in their sleep, the Batibat contrasted perfectly with the more delicate tree nymphs. The Dreamweaver series, naturally, has caused me to delve even deeper into sleep disorders. For example, there’s a vast difference between a night terror and a nightmare. Equally, sleep paralysis is far more common than I possibly could have realised. Some good friends have since told me they suffer from it themselves. Imagine dreaming, but feeling awake at the same time. You’re not able to move but you’re being attacked by demons or people or the most terrifying creatures you can think of. It feels so real that you’re struck by sheer, uncompromising terror. I count myself incredibly fortunate that I’ve never experienced it.
Nobody really knows why we dream. There are plenty of theories, from Freud’s belief that dreams were related to wish fulfillment or others who hypothesise that they are to do with information processing. Naturally, there are swathes of websites and books on interpreting dreams. Considering the mysteries that still surround both our brains and dreams, however, it’s not beyond the realms of disbelief that there’s an awful lot more going on with them than we realise. Perhaps not to the Dreamlands extent but you never know!
Book Two of the Dreamweaver series, where dreams are explored in every sense of the word, will be released on Tuesday September 29th.