On Dreams and Nightmares
by Kathryn Smith
In less than two weeks, I leave for Romance Writers of America's National Conference in San Francisco. The same day that I will spend something ridiculous like 9 hours either in a plane or in an airport is the release day for my first romantic urban fantasy, BEFORE I WAKE. At least I can check airport books stores to see if it's out.
Dawn Riley is a Nightmare. Literally. This sprang from my strange habit of wanting to take something with negative connotations and make it good. Nightmares are guardians of the Dream Realm. Sometimes, they are the only things standing between us and the terrors of that world--Dreamkin that thrive on fear.
Only problem is that Dawn has no idea what she's doing half the time--and no idea just what she's capable of, since she's the only one of her kind. I didn't do that just so she could be special. I did it because Dawn has always felt "apart" from the rest of the world. She belongs to our world and the Dreaming and, yet, she fully belongs in neither. And we all just want to belong somewhere, don't we?
Of course, Dawn has some people to help her along her journey. As I pack a gazillion pair of shoes to take to San Francisco, I realize just how fundamental friends and mentors are in a writer's life.
My editor (shouting out to Erika) helps me make every book as good as it can be. My agent keeps me sane and focused (a tough job, I assure you!). They're my mentors, and I can't wait to see both of them at the conference. But friends...friends are the glue that keep you together. Friends are the people you call when you're stuck on plot, or feeling lousy about sales.
So, as I toss yet another pair of wedges in the suitcase, I am most excited to see those wonderful people that I haven't seen since the last conference (Jesse, Laura Lee, Elizbo, Anna, Julia...the list goes on!). I'm also reminded that there are those who won't be at National this year (Adele -- sob!) and am sad that it will be that much longer before I see them again.
Maybe that's why reunion stories, like the one in my current "Brotherhood of the Blood" release, LET THE NIGHT BEGIN, are a favorite of mine. There's nothing more bittersweet than the reuniting of lovers with so much emotion and pain between them. I love it. And there's nothing like seeing an old friend whom you haven't seen in months. Maybe I should pack a few hankies as well.
But, as I buy extra batteries for my new camera (to take photos of my friends!), I remember my first National conference and how overwhelming it was. And hot! I remember the people who befriended me and made it easier and I remember that was the year my first book came out. The year my dream of being a published author officially came true.
So, if I have to sit on my suitcase to close it, then so be it. If I have to pay the airline extra because my shoe collection puts me over the allowance, so what? In less than two weeks, I'm going to be in a gorgeous city, in a lovely hotel filled with friends and other romance-lovers who have either realized their dreams, or are working on it. Oh, and we''ll be joined by the agents, editors, and publishers who make those dreams come true.
I think Dawn would fit right in.
What's YOUR dream?