Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, October 21, 2013

My novel, Shadow of Samhain, is published!

It’s finally happened! A novel I started writing once upon a time many, many years ago (and many!) is now published exactly as the book it was meant to be! And with a better publishing company, too!

Some explanation:

When I was 15 years old, I started having these dreams about a man named “Jonathan.” These were frequent dreams and they lasted for a long time. In my quest to try to understand these dreams and why I was having them, I ended up turning my experiences into a novel. I was actually compelled to do so after one particular dream showed me doing just that, slapping on the title November’s Child.

A couple of years later, November’s Child became a real book. I was a novelist! Yay!

But, oh no! I published the book with a shady publisher. The book was taken out of print and remained in limbo for 10 years. During that time, I spent all those years trying to figure out where to go from there. What could I do with that book now? I talked to so many people to figure out what fate had in store for this book. I talked with authors, publishers, literary agents, editors and attorneys. Eventually, I came to two conclusions:

*Since the rights to the book were restored to me, I could now get it published again but with a different title.
*This new version of the original would have to be completely rewritten. A brand new story!

Now the basics of the story – a girl haunted by an ancient Druid spirit in her dreams – was still there, as well as certain character names I COULD NOT change. But, yes, this new version of the book is dramatically different than what was once in print.

But it took me a long time to get there. 

Fast forward many years more, during which I took the manuscript through several rewrites and revisions. Finally, when I thought it was in perfect condition, I submitted it to my publisher. But guess what? My publisher eventually sent it back, asking for another rewrite!

AAH! Cue me grabbing my head with both hands, eyes wide and asking in shock, “How?”

But I did eventually figure out how to do it. After much soul-searching, a powwow with friends and family, pacing, cursing, muttering to myself, hair-pulling and shooting hoops, I was able to figure out how to rewrite the story AGAIN and still keep pretty much the story I already had there.

In the original book, my character, Malissa, lives with her bro John (renamed “Tom” in the new draft) in Tacoma. I did not elaborate too much on this chapter in my character’s life, so I figured, why not start there? What exactly happened while my character was living with her brother? The new manuscript that tells all about it at the start of the novel was accepted – and now published. Yay!!

In addition to certain character names kept in this new and improved version of my original book, there are things that happened in my real life while I dreamt about Jonathan that I kept in this new book, as well:

*Like my character, Malissa, I kept seeing guys who looked like Jonathan.
*There really was a singer who looked exactly like Jonathan and has his name, just as in this story. However, I never got a last name in my dreams, except in one dream I saw Jonathan writing “Blazier.” I gave the singer in my story that name for a last name.
*The character “Jonathan” playing guitar in one of my character’s dreams? Happened in an actual dream.
*The character “Jovin” is based on another man in the dreams who was telling me not to be afraid of Jonathan and was a sort of "guide" while all that stuff was happening (yeah, I was pretty freaked out that I kept having these dreams with this mystery man in them!). In the book, however, the two are enemies and not friends.
*The character “Tessie” is based on a real-life person who helped me with the dreams – but Tessie is dramatically different from the real-life person.
*A girl in the story freaks out when she sees Malissa, telling Malissa's brother that she is sensitive to a person's aura and that Malissa's aura made her feel uncomfortable. Something similar happened with me. During the dream experience, I went with one of my sister's into a magic store. A psychic there took one look at me, freaked out and went into another room. I always wondered what it was she saw that spooked her. (As a child, I saw these dark shadow ghosts and they were often in the dreams I had with Jonathan but they WERE NOT very nice to him!)
*Another similarity was me trying to MOVE ON in life and not be so caught up with those dreams. Believe me, it got to the point where I was dangerously obsessed with those dreams and I saw how it was hurting my relationship with my daughter so I pretty much "snapped out of it." Certain family members helped make that happen for me, too, just as they do in the novel for my character.

Now for some “fun facts” about this novel:

*I decided to go with a Druid angle because after I told one of my sisters that I was turning my dreams into a story, and how I was struggling to figure out how to make it work, she suggested I turn my character, Jonathan, into a Druid. I pretty much ran with it from there and, as I did extensive research on the Druids, I was able to put other elements of the story together.
*The character name "Jovin" did not come easily. In my dream, the other guy had no name, so I pretty much had to figure out a name for him. In my research, I came across a priest with the name Jovin. I liked the name and decided to use it. (It seemed to fit, since the character "Jovin" is a good guy in the story – and my characters are Catholic!)
*The story is set in Washington. Believe it or not, I have never been to Washington (plan to go someday!) but I have relatives who are from there and so they took the time to tell me all about it. I also did research on Washington via the Internet and through a tourism service based there. Also, I talked with people who lived in Metaline Falls to see what it was like. Why Washington? I'm embarrassed to admit it, but at the time I started writing this story many, many years ago, I couldn't decide where to set it. (I'm an indecisive person!) I went to a map of the U.S. I had hanging on the wall, closed my eyes and pointed. Ended up pointing at Washington so I went with it.

Now, finally, I must say that like it says in the book's "Author's Note," I have definitely moved on past that whole dream experience. I understand what it was now. Really, I do. And, with that understanding, I am able to make peace with the whole thing. There are no more unanswered questions or mysteries about it. I know what that experience was and will now move forward from all of it. Because that's what we have to do in life: We have to move forward. We cannot live in the past and carry around grudges and negative emotions about things in the past. We have to live in the moment, for today. I am just glad I was able to take something like a "dream experience that lasted for 15 years" and turn it into a novel. So many times my dreams have inspired stories, and this time was definitely one of them.

Here's the link for the novel.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this book possible. Thank you to Denise Bartlett and Charlotte Holley of Gypsy Shadow Publishing for helping me to bring my novel back to life and give it another chance to be out there in the world. I wouldn't give up on this book, so thank you for never giving up on me!

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