Today’s Brew: Wild Mountain Blueberry! It’s back!
Everyone! This is Isobel! On Twitter, she’s a self proclaimed hipster, she directs indie films, and she’s an all around bad ass. She has recently released WAKE FOR ME, and we’re excited to share a little bit of the book with you.
”Meeting the man of your dreams can seem impossible-especially if you’re unconscious.”
“Loneliness and darkness have just robbed me of my valuables.” –Sigmund Freud
I walk down a set of brushed steel stairs, dropping my feet in time with the music. My thigh-high leather boots are attached with straps to my elbows. The heels are ten inches high.
The room below me is completely black, except for a small circle of deep blue light in the center. The dance floor pulses with angry, writhing life. Bodies crush together so closely, you can’t make out which parts are which. The beat is muddy, dirty. It runs together.
My feet finally hit the floor. There is no floor. Just a thin line of neon light, stretching away into the darkness.
I’m a dominatrix, a marionette. My hair falls into my eyes, and I have to keep pushing it back. It’s razor straight, the deep purple of a twilight sky. It isn’t my hair, but someone else’s. I can’t see. The beat shifts, and I can hear the sound of laughter behind it. My heart beats faster and faster in time. Sweat runs down my face, my arms, into my eyes. It stings and splashes the people around me. They sizzle, and burst into flame. I’m surrounded by glowing embers with melting eyes.
I scream. My voice comes out as a whisper.
My feet are on fire, my hair is on fire. I beg the waitress for a drink. She looks at me from across the room and shakes her head.
“You’re not dressed appropriately for this establishment.”
“These aren’t my clothes,” I tell her. “This isn’t me.”
But my voice is hoarse and unrecognizable. I cough, and purple smoke comes billowing out of my mouth.
The music changes again, and I fall.
“You’re flying,” Aiden’s voice whispers. “I’m falling.”
I land on my hands and knees, hard. I’m kneeling in a pile of dead, brown leaves. The trees all around me are blood red, with yellow branches. I reach for one of the branches, trying to pull myself up. It turns into a snake and wraps itself around my hand.
I scream, silently, and run.
Crashing through the trees, I come to a river. It’s black and wide, and my right foot splashes into the freezing water before I can stop. The current pulls me in, waist high, chest high, neck high.
I suck in a breath, but it’s too late. I’m sinking.
A hand swims across my vision, thin and pale. There’s a thick gold ring on one of its fingers. My father’s ring. I reach for it, but my hand passes through. I close my eyes, willing myself to breathe. I can breathe underwater. I can do anything if my will is strong enough.
I speak one word, séchez, into the river. Heat bubbles from below, and the river boils. I rise with the steam, until I’m standing in the middle of a dry riverbed. My childhood home sits before me, looking like someone has dropped it from a great height. Like Dorothy’s house, I think. In that story…I can’t remember the name.
I walk carefully across the ground, feeling the parched, fragile mud crack under my feet like eggshells. I misstep once or twice, and almost fall through. Finally, I make it to the front porch of my house. Painted white columns jut diagonally into the sky, and the old bricks look like decaying, mismatched rows of teeth. I open the door, and instantly I am surrounded by tall wooden casks corseted with wide steel bands. They’re twice as tall as I am. I walk through the cedar-scented maze until I reach the dining room.
The table is set for company. There are three sets of clothes, one on each chair. The fourth chair is empty. I pick up my clothes and put them on. I sit in the chair and wait for my parents to come in from the show room.
But they never come.
Instead, I fall asleep at the table, pillowing my head on my arms.
“Wake for me,” a voice says, and I do.
I look up to find Sam sitting at the table across from me. But now, the table is a miniature wine cask. Our knees brush against each other on either side.
“You’re late,” I tell him. “I was so worried.”
“I love you,” he says, much too quickly. He’s hiding something, but he wants to see me smile, just once, before he tells me what it is.
“I know,” I say. There’s something rolling around inside my stomach. I could be pregnant, I think. The thought terrifies me and excites me at the same time. Maybe the baby is Sam’s. He’ll be so beautiful. But we should get married first. Wait, I’m too young to get married.
No, this is bad news. Everything is wrong.
“You’re so beautiful.” His hands feel warm around mine. “I never realized how beautiful. Your eyes….”
“I wish you would just say it. You know how much I hate surprises. They make me feel…” I search for the right words “like you’re taking advantage of me.”
“Let me see you smile,” he says.
His face makes me want to cry. He loves me so much. He’s the only thing that feels real to me anymore. The candle on the table sputters and dies. I can’t feel his hands on me anymore.
“I’m never going to wake up from this, am I?”
Arms surround me in the dark. It’s so warm, so quiet. Finally, for the first time, I can breathe. I inhale deep. The smell of chlorine and freshly washed laundry fills my lungs.
“I promise you, you’re going to wake up,” he tells me. “But when you do, things will never be the same.”
“What aren’t you telling me?” I demand, pushing away from his embrace. “Why are we here? Why have all the voices stopped?”
But he doesn’t answer. I’m alone.
I fumble for the candle, for anything that will shed some light and bring him back to me. But my grasping hand only meets an empty pile of clothes. Something rattles. Pearls. A watch. Cufflinks.
It’s so quiet. Too quiet.
In real life, I am (among many things) an indie film director and TV producer with a deep–some might even say obsessive–appreciation for onscreen storytelling and a lifelong book habit that I just can’t seem to kick.
In film, there’s nothing I like better than a JJ Abrams “show, not tell” character reveal, or a Joss Whedon banter session. Or an Erik Kripke-level “bromance.” And of course, I’m a die-hard fan of the will they / won’t they trope, where the fans start shipping two characters agonizingly long before they share their first kiss. Or in Hart Hanson’s case, like three frigging years before. (That’s right, Hart. I’m talking to you, you incorrigible tease.)
In my novels, I use my visual storytelling skills to show the reader an entire menagerie of hidden worlds. When it comes to imagination, there is no production value and no budget. But if there was, I would spend it all and then some. To me, my characters are real people, who just happen to live in my mind. Before I write, I scout locations to set the scene, I hold exhaustive casting sessions to find the perfect quirks that will ignite the maximum amount of conflict. Then, I throw in some tricky, but believable situations that allow my characters to expose themselves–sometimes in a figurative, emotional sense, other times quite literally. Rawr.
Finally, I sit back and let the story unfold. If it sucks, I cut it. I tell my characters–sternly, but calmly–to reset and do it again, but this time give me MORE. Show me MORE. Make me laugh or cry or want to hit something MORE. And then, when I realize I’ve read through the entire thing in one sitting and–Holy shit, is it really that late, and Oh my God I am SO hungry! Have I even eaten today? That’s when I know it’s ready to be unleashed into the world.