Tuesday, May 7, 2013

James Wymore on His Upcoming Release, Exacting Essence

Today I interview James Wymore, author of Theocracide, on his new YA novel, Exacting Essence, coming out 5/15!

Megan’s nightmares aren’t normal; normal nightmares don’t leave cuts and bruises on waking. Desperate, Megan’s mother accepts a referral to a new therapist; a doctor dealing with the business of dreams—real dreams. The carnival of terrors that torments Megan nightly is all just a part of the Dreamworld, a separate reality experienced only by those aware enough to realize it.

On her quest to destroy the Nightmares feeding from her fear, Megan encounters Intershroud, the governing entity of the Dreamworld, and must work with her new friends to stop the agency from continuing its evil agenda, and to destroy her own Nightmares for good.

In Exacting Essence, Megan struggles with dreams that are all-too-real. Are you a vivid dreamer yourself? Do you have any especially interesting or recurring dreams you feel comfortable sharing?

I have had some amazing dreams. I don't know if I dream more vividly than anybody else. Certainly less than some people I know. But I have always enjoyed my dreams, even when they turn dark.

In one of my favorite dreams I had a small toy of a knight on horseback wielding a lance. It wore red and yellow heraldry and sat on a table with grass scenery around it. Then suddenly, I became that knight. I was still small and the horse beneath me was moving across the table. I had an urgent mission, but I didn't know how to get off the table. I rode around the edge, noticing the clock and walls, looking for a short enough distance to jump. Finding none and knowing my time grew short, I eventually just spurred the horse on and leaped lance first over the edge. Naturally I woke up at that moment. It was a complete rush!

Have you ever gotten a story idea from a dream?

Yes. In fact, some parts of Exacting Essence came about after I dreamed about them. Most often I dream an idea which is small. Then I expand on it when writing. I've heard of dreams which would make a great movie all by themselves. But most of mine are just small pieces I later make into something bigger.

One example is a dream where I needed to escape from a stone castle. I purposefully dreamed a gothic arched window. The pediment and frame appreared, but the stone remained inside it. So I punched through the hole where the window should be to find the stone there thin and weak. I easily knocked the rest of it away and escaped. One of the main characters in the sequel grew out of that dream.

Can you give us a taste of what lurks in Megan's nightmares?

Due to an unfortunate misunderstand when her parents went through a divorce and she was very young, Megan believed her father literally ran away to join a circus. She latched onto that idea and began dreaming of carnivals and clowns. Over time, however, they turned mean and began hurting her. Years later, at the end of her teens, Megan has been tormented by them for so long she can't sleep or stay awake. It's a kind of long term sleep deprivation which drives her to consider suicide if she can't get some real help. The help comes in the form of a psychiatrist who tells Megan the nightmares are real, living creatures. They will continue to hunt her until she finds a way to fight and destroy them.

What do you like most about Megan? What are her flaws?

I like that Megan has a strength to endure torment beyond most of us. Her opinions are strong and she holds on to them. She has an indominatable spirit which refuses to be put down despite long years of pain.

Megan isn't flexible. She has definite ideas which she holds onto against all advice or reason. She can't let go of something just because she knows she should. She has to see things through to the bitter end.

Exacting Essence is the first in a series. Without giving too much away, where will we see the series head?

There is a war coming. Most of humanity sleeps through their dreams. But the people controlling the dream world are working to increase their power and control. Despite their great advantage, a few powerful dreamers who refuse to bow to their tyrany will rise up against those trying to keep the human race in the dark. But how do you kill something so enigmatic as a dream?

Connect with James here!


Now enjoy an excerpt!

At first, the color gray dominated her mind. Then, details slowly began to fill in around her, and Megan found herself at school. Only a few of her friends came to class today. They were all wearing matching uniforms with white blouses and black skirts. Since her school didn’t have uniforms, this worried Megan. She started brushing chalk dust off the skirt and checking to see if the others thought it was strange. The desks littered the room chaotically in defiance of the usual order at school, so she had to push a few out of the way to join her friends. Only dim sunlight from one small window lit the room. Jessica gazed out longingly.

“What’s going on?” Megan asked. “Where’s everybody else?”

“They’re all outside,” Jessica said.

“Why?” Meg continued. “What are they doing? Aren’t they worried they’ll be late for class?”

“No,” said Erin, the dark-haired girl beside her. “The teacher’s out there, too. They all are.”

“Let’s go outside,” said Jessica, gazing intently out the tinted glass. “It looks fun.”

“Can I see?” Megan asked.

Erin crowded in, blocking the view. “Wow! It’s a whole carnival.” Turning from the window, she began to walk toward the door. “I wish I had more money.”

“Where are you going?” Megan asked. She didn’t want to go to the carnival. Something told her to stay away. Her hands began to shake a little.

“To have fun with the others,” the three girls said in unison.

“Let’s stay in here,” Megan suggested, her voice faltering.

They slowed their pace only a moment at the door. Jenny, the shortest, said, “And miss all the fun? No way. I love carnivals.”

“Please stay with me,” Megan begged.

“Forget it,” said Erin as they disappeared. She called down the hall, “If you’re going to stay, you’re going to do it by yourself.”

Darkness surrounded her. The fear of being alone in the dark propelled her out into the hall. She jogged to catch up. They were far ahead. She couldn’t lose her friends. She could feel the fear rising inside her as she edged closer to the door. Light was pouring in, the light at the end of a dark tunnel. She couldn’t make out any details until she reached the doorframe. She paused again, clinging desperately to it, hoping there was another choice—anything.

When her eyes adjusted, she could see a cotton-candy stand, a small roller coaster, a fishing game, a dunking machine, and other attractions all in red and orange booths. There were people all around, but she couldn’t see her friends anywhere. With her arms folded for comfort, she began to meander through the swarm. People bumped into her as if they couldn’t see her. Several times she found herself fenced in by groups in line or having conversations over top of her. The harder she pushed to break free, the more they backed into her and shifted to block her.

Suddenly she stopped. Her hands leaped to her mouth to catch a small gasp before it escaped. Before her was a huge carousel, taller even than the school. Dark paint covered the animals, which raced around in circles while sporting horrible sneers and eerie grimaces. Macabre fascination kept her from running in fear, just like the moment before jerking your fingers away from a hot stove.

One moment was all it took. Before she could bolt, she saw them. Erin rode on a black grizzly bear with huge claws. Behind the bear, a pine-green snake was bobbing up and down, carrying Jessica, who grinned widely.

They waved when they noticed her. The metal and boards creaked and popped as if the whole contraption was moments from implosion. Jenny motioned for her to come up.

Megan couldn’t step on the rotating platform. Nothing in the world would ever make her get on the merry- go-round; even if it meant losing her friends. Fear dragged her away. She turned to run but instead jumped back with a short scream. A short, fat clown blocked her retreat. Dressed in a puffy red suit with yellow dots, covered in dirt and oil, his horrifying face featured a large, red mouth painted into a sneer. She couldn’t look away from his two side-tufts of green hair.

She wanted to dart, but found herself paralyzed like a statue. She couldn’t even breathe. The clown reached up and touched her cheek. His sweaty finger left a line of white, greasy makeup, which itched. There were tears on her face, but she refused to scream. Some unvoiced wisdom told her it would make him even happier if she did.

The clown pulled out a floppy balloon. Sputtering globs of spit from the sides of his mouth, he blew air and rigidity into the rubbery blue line until it expanded into a long curve. Meg tried to look away as he began twisting it with a grating sound. She wanted to see or hear anything else, but the balloon drew her attention in a new way. It had shimmering patterns of yellow light. It seemed to be flickering in a familiar moiré pattern between parallel shadow lines. It was hypnotic. As he tied the balloon, his hands left smeared fingerprints of the same greasy makeup all over it. Only when the clown was done could she look away from the lights to see what he had made. It was the shape of a knife.

Instantly her hand shot up to hold back a scream. She turned on her heels and sprinted. She ran off the pavement with her hand still clenching her mouth. She hurdled over the rocks lining the perimeter of the parking lot, determined to escape. As she rushed away, she entered longer grass. Then she passed bushes and trees.

She stopped as soon as she realized she had sprinted into a dead forest. The bushes were dried sagebrush. The trees were black shadows with only a few dead leaves clinging to twisted branches. She stopped once the balding clown was out of sight. She tried to retrace her steps, only to discover she was lost. The lines on her cheeks from dried tears parted around the greasy paint on her cheek. Now those lines filled again with new tears.

The sun abandoned her and the wind began to whistle through the thin branches. Some small rustling sound drove her into a panic again. She chose a direction and ran blindly. It was hopeless, she knew. The ending was inevitable. She didn’t run to escape now; she ran because if she stood still she would go crazy. Soon the trees thinned and opened around a large tent with huge red-and-white stripes running up it to a single sharp point.

The circus. Out of the frying pan; into the fire. She remembered how this tent used to make her so happy. It had not made her happy for a long time. She knew there was no escape. She let the numbness of shock wash over her. It was too late to resist now. It had happened so many times. She didn’t try to fight it anymore. Next time she could try again to escape. She just stumbled slowly through the dirty front flaps of the tent door, dreading what waited for her.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! I got my current story idea from a dream, less than a month after telling someone, "I don't draw inspiration from my dreams, they're too weird." But I simplified the dream I had and made the weird that was left make sense with having the whole thing be intentionally wacky, and now agents are interested! Moral: Don't discount any possible tools too early.