I could tell you a thousand stories about what inspired every single word in my novels. Most are so simplistic that I tend to explain how I saw what I saw more than why something inspired me. But, the story behind Rivulet’s creation is one that I didn’t dare speak about until this point – only my family and my closest friends knew what sparked this novel. Why? Because I didn’t want people to think that I was insane!
Let me set the scene. It was November of 2012. At the time, I was balancing two careers and a young family. The career outside of writing hit its peak season right around that time of year. I had just released a novel and was preparing to have a dual release in January. Oh and did I mention it was November! Christmas was weeks away!
The days were long. Caffeine was the only thing holding my eyes open. I had lost my bliss, and I was just trying to get through my to-do list that grew ten feet every single day. My mantra – no time to write, this is a time to polish what I have. There is NO time between now and the release of the next novels. Focus Jamie. Focus! Push that muse in its box and let it out in February.
Okay scene set.
One night I was beyond exhausted so bedtime came at ten thirty—a solid two and a half hours before I usually called it a day.
I was lying there in bed and all of a sudden I heard men outside of my window. They were loud, they sounded huge, and they were talking about getting into the house. They were after me! I rose from my bed screaming (I haven’t screamed like this since I was ten at a New Kids on the Block concert!). I ran at top speed out of my room down the hall then down the stairs. My heart was thundering in my chest; my soul was pulsing with terror. I was going to die; I just knew it. Luckily, we had just installed a high tech alarm system, one that allowed you to talk to very nice emergency people. I didn’t know how to work it – so what did I do? I pushed every single button that I could the whole time jumping up and down knowing I needed to run but not knowing which direction to run.
Then, oddly, my very young son came down the stairs and innocently asked me, “Momma what are you doing?” I felt like a horrible mom at that moment. I’d run down the stairs and left him and his sister up there. More panic, “I have to get them out!” I quickly thought. I begged him to come to me so I could get his sister. “What about dad? What are you talking about?” He questioned me. Believe it or not he had a smile on his face. Probably because his mother was jumping in place like she had ants in her P.J’s. I had made it half way up the stairs at this point. I told him, “Daddy is out of town—we have to go, baby!” He looked at me with a sideways grin like I was insane and then ran toward my bedroom door – toward DANGER. I yelled his name right as he said, “No, he’s right here,” as he turned on my bedroom overhead light. I’m not sure what I expected to see when the light kicked on – gruesome evil people? I really didn’t know—something that was going to kill me was all I thought. What did I see? My husband rise out of bed with a bewildered look on his face as I let out a horrific scream – you know the kind that you hear in those movies that you never watch in the dark? Yeah, that one—shrill, ear peircing could possibly break glass scream. Then guess what happened? Yep. I woke up.
For the first time in my life I had not only sleep walked I had also had a night terror.
One second I was at death’s door, no hope for survival and the next, my son is giggling and my husband is doing his best to figure out why the light is on, why I just screamed, and why the alarm is going off.
“The alarm! The alarm!” I yelled once I figured out it was a dream. My husband charges out of bed and down the stairs to disarm the full on attack sound that was so piercing that I thought the windows would shatter. I could not catch my breath. I felt adrenaline saturating my soul. I had never once felt that sensation before.
Well, even though he disarmed the alarm and spoke the all clear code to the alarm people that called the house, the very on point company that protects our home had already dispatched an officer to our house.
While I did my best to catch my breath, my husband was downstairs talking to a very nice female police officer. He told her that I was asleep and moved from one room to the other and accidently hit the alarm pad (the basic truth of the matter – he just left out the fact that his wife may have finally lost her mind!). I had to go downstairs and let her see that I was just fine – so humiliating! But she was nice and everyone did their job that night, no doubt.
I had only been asleep for an hour. It wasn’t even midnight yet!
I did my best to explain the dream to my husband, but it took me hours to calm down. My heart just would not stop hammering. Finally, he settled me down and put me on his side of the bed. He hooked his legs over me and told me to go to sleep that he wasn’t going anywhere. “I’ve got you, Love. I’m not letting you go.” (P.S to this day I still sleep on that side of the bed and if I even dare to turn over too abruptly he sits up in the bed to make sure I’m ok!)
I never let things go. There is a reason for everything. That is how I see things. So why did I go psycho in the middle of the night? It was 2012—had I let the end of the world mumbo jumbo get to me? Who knew? But Google was my best friend the next day. If you have a question about a dream—I bet I can tell you where to look. Basically, I did not fit any mold when it came to night terrors. I was too old to just have one out of the blue, no dark suppressed memories or anything. The closest thing I came to fitting the classic night terror reasoning was stress. Oh, and the symptoms that the dreamers wake up when a light is turned on, and most terrors happen within the first few hours of sleep.
It still drove me mad. Did I mention the night terror made me feel half insane?
I only had one choice. I had to get over this, and there was only one way to get over something like that. I left it all behind on a word document.
In November, I began a new book. My day job was intense. My family was gearing up for the holidays. I had a dual release in a few weeks – but I opened a word document.
Three weeks later, I completed the first draft of Rivulet. I had never written a novel that fast and I did it during a time of year that simply would not allow that kind of commitment.
After the first chapter was down I had long forgotten about the night terror. I gave everything I felt and went through to the main character. It was no longer mine so I didn’t have to feel it, only manage the flow of the words.
Is Rivulet about an innocent writer who just wanted a few extra hours of sleep, who went to bed one night and had a bad dream that beckoned men and women to her home to make sure no one was harming her or her family? No. Is it a horror story that ends in a blood bath? Nope. Is it about a home invasion or even a woman who is committed because her mind finally breaks? No. BUT a night terror triggers the novel and is woven throughout the entire story.
In the early spring after life had mellowed, I pulled out Rivulet to start the next drafts. It was so awesome for me to feel, at a distance, the power of the emotions in my dream again. By then I could laugh about it. Coincidently, we were having work done to our house then. One afternoon I retreated to my room so the painters could move through the downstairs and such. I was lying across my bed with the drapes pulled closed and my laptop before me. All at once, I heard the music the painters were listening to outside my window; I heard the banging ladders on the side of the house, and the men talking to one another. I glanced at my screen. Then glanced to the heavens and thought: cute—love the irony.
Sometimes I think that creative souls are the most haunted beings on this rock.
My advice to other creative souls: never, ever, ever, ever, ever ever put your muse on hold. Never tell them you will get to it when you can. That you are too busy, that they need to wait their turn. That you are the boss and what you say goes. That you just do not feel like it right now. If you put your muse on hold, it will make you PAY. What is the worst that could happen? The idea will float away to another creative soul that is willing to make the sacrifices needed to put the words down. The best? They will make you feel like a nut case until you write it all down.
I made a deal with mine. If they promised never to scare me like that again I would listen when they spoke.
Words of wisdom to readers. Every single word you read in some way mirrors the creator’s life. Creative people weave emotions into various forms of expression with the one and only goal of making our audience understand that we are not alone. Feeling emotions, both good and bad, is an ordained right we are given from above that allows us to grasp life at its core.
The cover, blurb, and release date will be posted on September 2nd I can’t wait to see what you think of this story!