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Tuesday, November 5, 2013


By Ellie James

I’ve always been a dreamer.

From the time I was a little girl, growing up in Louisiana, vivid images greeted me while I slept. There were all the standard dreams, about school and friends and monsters, flying and falling, being chased, being trapped. As I got older my dreams changed a bit, with boys entering the mix, and all sorts of exciting romantic scenarios. But I still had those scary dreams, the ones where you know you need to run, but your body betrays you, and you can’t move a single muscle, where you lay there in bed, paralyzed and terrified…

By the time I met my husband, I was a young adult living alone in my own apartment. We married, and wow was he surprised the first time I let out a blood-curdling scream in the middle of the night—and smacked him silly!

With time, my nightmares faded, but my dreams remained vivid. While my husband dreamed of playing Scottish links with life-sized bunny rabbits, I found myself wandering University with no idea where I was supposed to go, or even on occasion walking down the aisle of a grand cathedral, with no idea who I was about to marry. (Yes, I’m sure Freud would have a brilliant time with that one!) But other dreams were there, too, the kind of dreams that guide you while you’re awake, the dreams that carry you into the future.  For me I dreamed of writing books, of telling stories of suspense and danger and, always, romance.

I suppose it’s only fitting that both waking and sleeping dreams combined to create my first Young Adult novel, Shattered Dreams. Shortly after my son was born, I closed my eyes late one night (or was it early one morning?) and suddenly saw a group of teenagers sneaking into a beautiful but long-abandoned mansion in the Garden District of New Orleans. But I was more than simply watching. I was there. I was one of them. I gazed into the darkness and smelled the decay. I saw the strange piles of corn and ashes and bone, the slip of the shadows, and I jumped at the sound of branches scraping the grimy windows. There were mean girls and a guy who made my heart pound, and we all made our way up the rotting staircase for a seemingly innocent game of truth or dare.

But there was nothing innocent about it.

I woke up breathless, and more than a little surprised. Unlike dreams that fade, the images lingered. It was all so real and vivid. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d experienced, and from that, the questions came: What happened next? What if one of the teens was a psychic? What if she saw something…something bad?  What if what she saw actually happened? What if no one believed her, or at least, no one but the last guy she should let herself begin to fall for?
As I answered those questions, Shattered Dreams was born!

What about you, have you had dreams so real you would swear they were?

What if they are?


  1. ooh, Ellie, another great post! Yes, I have had those dreams and they scare the bejibbers out of me. I wonder if they were just a dream or if, as sometimes, they are precognitive.

  2. Wow! What a great post! I think we have all had dreams, but to transfer them to stories - awesome!


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