July 15, 2009

A Book is Born

I have a vivid dream life, full of color, drama, even music. When I was younger, my dreams were often twisted takes on everyday life: demons attacking tourists at Disneyland, driving off the San Mateo Bridge (in the days when it was small and the span was raised to let ships pass by), being chased by neighborhood bullies transformed into faceless ghouls.

I’ve flown over trees and lakes, wandered buck naked in schools and offices, and conjured up rooms full of divine delights. Many dreams have been recorded in my journal, but more often I can’t recall the whole thing, just snippets.

Once in a while I wake up with every detail intact. That’s how I got the idea for my children’s novel, The Mermaid’s Daughter, the story of Roza, a girl seeking an ancient power stolen from the sea.

Now the dream didn’t give me the entire tale, just the conflict. Building from that, I created a world populated with characters that intrigue, surprise, and sometimes anger me. The initial version won First Prize for Children’s Fiction at the 2009 San Francisco Writers Conference.

I say “initial” because I couldn’t find an agent who liked the book enough to represent me, forcing me to take a long, hard look at my writing. And I found many places–too many, to my chagrin–where the story lacked depth.

So, with thanks to the agents who gave compliments but passed, I’m determined to revise The Mermaid’s Daughter until it’s a story too good to refuse.