Where did the idea for this book come from?

If you’ve ever experienced sleep paralysis, you know how terrifying it is. You are conscious enough to know that you can’t move your limbs, but too asleep to shout for help.

When I was a junior in college, this happened to me a lot. I would lay down to sleep and, as I drifted off, I’d hear calliope music. That in itself is creepy. Then, I’d feel my arms and legs freeze up, and I’d get sucked into a nightmare. The nightmare had many variations, but the theme was there was a monster chasing me.

I had all sorts of defense mechanisms to evade the monster. I’d ”switch channels” to a different dream. I’d try to stay up so that I was so exhausted I wouldn’t dream. But none of it worked.

The nightmare drained my vitality. After ‘running’ all night, I’d wake up feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. I was so sleep-deprived that I started hearing the nightmare’s calliope theme music while I was awake. Imagine sitting in a philosophy lecture and being dragged into a nightmare while you were awake.

I couldn’t keep going this way. Something had to change.

One night, after the calliope music played and paralysis set in, I let myself get sucked into the nightmare, without resisting. The monster burst out of hiding. It raced toward me.

For the first time ever, I didn’t run. I turned to face it.

“I’m too tired to run from you anymore,” I told it. ”Hurt me, kill me, do what you will. I don’t care. I can’t do this anymore.” I held out my arms and waited for it to attack.

Do you know what it did?

The monster hugged me and whispered, “All I wanted was for you to recognize me.”

I pulled out of the embrace to look at the monster. And that’s not what I saw. I finally recognized myself.

That’s what I’d been running away from—all the unloved, hurting, parts of me that I’d tried to keep locked away.

I embraced my shadow self again to show how much love I had for her. And that ended the dream. No more paralysis. No more calliope music.

I stood and went to the bathroom, tendrils of the dream still clinging to me. I washed my hands and looked into the mirror.

That’s when I noticed something was off about my reflection. My eyesight isn’t great, and I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but some kind of additional fog or smoke was passing between my mirror reflection and me.

As I stared, the image of my face began to flicker. It became several different faces—all with the same green eyes. I couldn’t make out what was happening for a moment because the faces flashed by too quickly. At some point I realized that I could recognize some of them, that the string of faces had a beginning and an end. Once I figured that out, some of the faces lingered for a second. As they came around again, they’d stay a little longer.

Then, they started to speak to me. Not in words, per se, but impressions. I got flashes of their lives. Emotions. Pain. Longing. I understood that I was meeting people I’d been in previous lifetimes. I saw a common thread we shared. Some of them shared my love of music or were poets or artists, like I am. “You are the last of our line,” they whispered. Then the mist receded and I was left alone to wonder if it was all a dream.

If you’ve read the first chapter of Song of Lyran this vision may be familiar to you. It’s similar to what Honey experiences when she first meets the women of the Line of Sekhmet.

I experienced that vision thirty years ago. Why did it take me so long to write the novel it inspired?

Stay tuned . …

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