Have you ever had a dream that was so good and real that you didn’t want to wake up? But then you had to wake up so you could think about what it meant? Karen Booth explores…
I’ve had it happen a few times, but I’ll be damned if I can remember what most of them were. They evaporate from my head pretty quickly and I’ve never been one for writing these things down. Mostly because I can never find a pen.
In the spring of 2000, my husband and 18-month-old daughter and I went to St. Barts for two weeks. We stayed in a beautiful villa co-owned by my husband’s boss, who had also been my boss before I left my career in music to have children. There’s something about being that far out of your everyday life that flips your mindset 180 degrees. Away from the world of play dates and competitive parenting, I relaxed for the first time in years. We went to the beach and listened to Bob Marley. We ate French pastries and gooey cheese and drank wine. We had the obligatory cheeseburger in paradise. I rarely wore shoes.
Apparently, all that decadence and relaxation set my mind wandering to places it hadn’t been in a very long time. Out of the blue one night, I had a vivid and very steamy dream about John Taylor from Duran Duran, the man who had been my rock star obsession in high school. Did I mention that the dream was vivid? Steamy? Yowza.
I awoke with a start, but not quite like the Night Before Christmas as I certainly wasn’t wearing a kerchief. Where am I? I looked around the room. My daughter was still asleep, thank goodness. She’d been up with the sun every other morning and the sun comes up very early in St. Barts. My husband was mumbling and stealing the covers. I slumped back in bed and shut my eyes and allowed my mind to languish over the best parts of my dream, a dream about a man I hadn’t thought about in at least ten years. Maybe longer.
I spent at least a few minutes talking myself through this scenario. I could really meet him. The band’s not exactly at the height of their career right now. I still had a lot of contacts in the music business and my husband still worked in music. Yeah, that husband part quickly tethered me back down to earth, but I was left with one thought…What if a woman met and fell in love with the rock star she’d been obsessed with in high school, only twenty years later?
Eventually we went back home and life returned to normal, but the original idea and that dream just wouldn’t leave my head. Every time it returned, there was some new aspect to it and I began to see the people who filled the roles in the story. I thought many times that it would make a great book, but everybody thinks that, right? Regardless, the idea didn’t go away and the characters began to talk to me. I let them do their thing in my brain for eight whole years. What can I say? Sometimes the time just has to be right.
So what made me finally sit down at the keyboard and entertain the capricious notion that I would write a novel? It was a few things. In the summer of 2008, we lost our house to a fire. I also turned forty that summer. If ever there’d been a time when I’d felt as though I was at a crossroads that was it. But I couldn’t see my way through it. There was the insurance company to deal with and the details of rebuilding a house needed my attention as well. Even more importantly, there were the kids and my husband. I devoted a lot of time to helping us all feel like life would eventually return to normal. Please, please, let life get back to normal.
Months later, after we were back in our beautifully re-built house, I was reading a magazine article about passing the big 4-0 and there was a quote that hit me like a ton of bricks. “Look at your life and ask yourself, are you taking off or are you coming in for a landing?”
I realized then that I needed to do something for myself. The chapter with losing the house had come to a close — the kids were happy and settled, we had furniture and clothes and artwork on the walls. My husband had his career and I still had this idea in my head that wouldn’t go away. That was when I began to write.
I didn’t tell a soul when I started. I assumed I would write twenty pages and get stuck or frustrated and quit, like most people do. There’s no shame in trying, right? Get it out of my system. Well, I didn’t quit. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I became a woman possessed, writing for hours and hours every day, rarely sleeping and rarely eating either. Although I don’t recommend it, this is a good way to lose the “baby weight”. I eventually told my husband what I was doing. He was guardedly supportive. This made me even more determined.
Six months later, I had completed the first draft of what is now Bring Me Back. I still get goose bumps when I say that (or type it). I suppose the lesson is that no idea is too crazy, you never know when inspiration will strike and it’s never too late to try. You’ll learn a lot about yourself along the way. I suggest starting by leaving a pen by the bed.
Music critic Claire Abby is a single mom dreading her daughter’s departure for college and worried that turning forty will leave her career running on fumes. She’s floored when she lands a Rolling Stone cover story on 80s British rock legend Christopher Penman. She spent her teenage years fantasizing he was her boyfriend. In person, Christopher is everything Claire feared he’d be – charming, witty and unwilling to address the rumors he’s dodged for a decade. Still, she contains her adolescent fantasies and manages to earn his trust, unearthing the truth and the devastating secret behind it. His blockbuster story is her first priority when she returns home, a nearly impossible task when Christopher starts calling and flirting. She knows she should maintain a professional distance. She knows she should focus on the story. She knows it would be best to simply walk away. But how can she say “no” to the man she could never forget?
Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. An early preoccupation with rock ‘n’ roll led her to spend her twenties working her way from intern to executive in the music industry. Much of her writing revolves around the world of backstage passes and band dynamics. When she’s not creating fictional musicians, she’s listening to everything from Otis Redding to Duran Duran to Tokyo Police Club with her kids, honing her Southern cooking skills (she makes some mean collards), or sweet-talking her astoundingly supportive husband into whipping up a batch of cocktails. Visit her website at karenbooth.net