Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Role of Dreams in Writing

By Jan Irving (Guest Blogger)

I often have entire books or parts of them play out for me in my dreams. This is very handy for a writer and I believe it has become more common for me because I am usually involved in plotting, creating characters and bringing a story to an end.

The unconscious plays a huge part in writing. It’s where THE answer suddenly pops up and as a writer you are left wondering how it was just there, perfect, that solution to a problem in plotting or a snag you’ve run into while working on a story.

Dreams or daydreams can spin out into entire stories. I remember with my first ménage, A Pastry Princess, I had one scene which encapsulated both the conflict and the erotic tension in the story. I saw a young woman, an independent pastry maker with no interest in romantic entanglements who suddenly has two very gorgeous men in her shop—men who have been assigned as her lovers to help her continue her aristocratic line.

That scene came to me for over two years until I really had to write it. But here is where dreams can jump the gun—when I first began to have this story vision, I primarily had written m/m. I’d never done a ménage. So it took me a while to get to the story.

Recently I had a dream for a story I’m tentatively calling The Mating Hunt about a young woman who wants to be an enforcer cat shifter to help her shifter race. Unfortunately she can’t shift because she’s a half breed. She is also being courted by the alpha prince of their pack. He is stalking her but he could also play the role of her guide and help her to achieve her deepest dream—if she surrenders to him. Now in the initial dream I saw this story as a ménage but lately I’ve been wanting to write an m/f story so I’m not sure how this will—excuse the pun—morph.

Forbidden Fire came from an intense day dream that left me desperately wanting to see how my couple worked out their painful need for each other. Here’s the scene that hooked me.


Luke Cade knew Sian’s step, knew the sound of the exact stair that groaned under her feet as she sneaked into the house he shared with her.

Tonight he found himself holding his breath, holding it almost like the sound of the world falling still. It was a moment when anything seemed possible, when stars could collide, when the sand below the posh beach house where they lived could be engulfed by flood waters that would rise and take back the palm trees, the sprinkler-fed grass…

When she might walk into his darkened bedroom and lie down beside him on his lonely bed. Instead, she walked past his door.

Of course she did.

He let out a breath as the world realigned back to the same routine. It hurt, knowing she’d been out dancing with some guy. It always hurt so goddamned much. He squeezed his eyes shut, telling himself he could endure another night, keep his secret.

It would be worse if he didn’t have her at all.

Sian Blaine was his stepsister. She could never be his girlfriend. She could never see herself as his lover. She was ten years older than he was and she thought of him as her little brother.

It didn’t matter that he was in his mid-twenties now and they’d lived in this house alone together since their parents had passed away. During the day, he worked at San Diego Fire Station 57 and she worked behind the counter of Coffee Dreams near Solana Beach. He often went in for coffee.

They practically spent twenty-four-seven together unless Sian had one of her dates.

So here was another Friday night and he was lying in a bed that might as well be a twin for all the action it saw and she was walking past his bedroom door. Yay!

Suddenly he erupted from that bed, stalking across the darkened room in his boxers, swinging open the door so he could glare down the empty hallway.

Weirdly, she was just standing there, looking over her bare shoulder at him, as if she’d somehow known he would appear.

Can you help?” Sian asked, solemn grey eyes on his face, her brown hair caught up above her neck. He told himself she was too skinny, the ‘bird bones’ she’d been called in high school, but her long arms seemed perfect as she tugged at the zipper on the back of her dress. And he knew why she was having trouble. This wasn’t some kind of come-on, despite how his body immediately reacted.

Sian’s left hand was curled like a withered leaf. She automatically tried to hide it in the folds of her dress, which pissed him off.

She didn’t need to goddamn hide from him. Not ever.

Yeah, all right,” he grumbled, as if his heart wasn’t racing at the thought of touching her intimately. He’d have to pretend she didn’t move him, but her skin would be under his hands…

He couldn’t help but notice she wasn’t wearing a bra under the dress. Not that she needed to. She had small, delicate breasts. He knew when they were growing up she’d lamented her slight figure, but he liked everything about her—from the way she smelt to the way she walked.

I think it’s busted,” he said, after pulling her zipper up and down, trying to get it to unfasten.

Probably my slip got caught in it. Can you check?”

He looked up and some of her hair slid free of its clasp. The slinky bit of brown curled between them, caressing his neck. He caught his breath.

Sian stared at him and then jerked her gaze from his.

Just what had she seen in his eyes?

He swallowed around a dry throat. “What colour is this dress anyway?”

Why do you ask?” Her voice was husky. She cleared her throat. “Going to splurge on one on Valentine’s Day for Maggie?”

Maggie. Luke had to search his brain to remember who that was while he was peeling cloth away from Sian’s back, his fingers actually—Christ!—touching bare skin. She had a mole just above her ass that he’d always wanted to kiss whenever he’d seen her in a bikini. Just put his mouth to it and suck until she laughed and turned around and he could put his mouth somewhere else…

The receptionist in the building next to the station, right,” he said. “She’s seeing someone.”

Oh. I thought you had a thing for her.”

Irritated, he said, “No. And if I did, why would I give her a dress?” The idea baffled him.

Sian laughed. “Because you actually asked me the colour of mine. I thought you liked it.”

I like it because it’s yours and tiny.”

Oh, shit. Way to be subtle. But he was kneeling at her feet and if she turned around his boxers weren’t going to hide just how much he liked her dress.

She was quiet until he cursed.


This is not caught on anything! It’s broken, Sian.”

He pulled away and had to let his hands drop. He balled them into fists so he didn’t just give into temptation and yank the thing off her like a wild man. Sian liked charming men, he knew. Men who were smooth and educated. Nothing like Luke, who had always been so physical, so rough-hewn.

Okay, thanks.” She paused, looking down at him. “I saw you’re Mr February this year.”

His cheeks heated. “Yeah. I’m also Mr April.” He’d posed with his surfboard and nothing else. “I didn’t know you’d seen it.”

Are you kidding? It’s up in the kitchen at work.” Sian’s cheeks were also flushed now, he noticed. “Since we’re all gals, we’re shamelessly exploiting hot young men in our calendar art.”

Hot young men? Wait, forget the young part, she thought he was hot?

Well, sorry I woke you up,” she said. “I’ll try to be quieter next time.”

You didn’t wake me up. I wasn’t sleeping.”

Her body swayed as if she were on the verge of heading into her own room, closing the door and leaving him on the outside again. Tonight he just couldn’t let it happen.


I’m not the street kid who moved in when your dad married my mom,” he said. “I’m…” He spread his fingers, wanting her to see him. He was an adult now. He’d made something of himself. He helped people.

And some part of him knew it had been for her. He’d worked so hard, wanted to be someone she’d respect. For her, all for her.

"Sometimes…you’re so quiet, I don’t know what you’re thinking,” she said. “I wish you’d take me to see where you come from. You never talk about it, but I know you think about it.” He could have told her, but then she’d run from him and lock her door. The dirty things he wanted to do to her…

I’m proud to work with the guys at Station 57.”

Her eyes widened and she knelt beside him, reaching out to grip his hand. “Oh, I’m so proud of you, Luke… You’ve come so far. You broke my heart, even my Dad’s heart. We both wanted you to have opportunities.” She studied him, her gaze running over his shoulders, his chest. He hoped like hell she liked what she saw since he worked out like a maniac. “Now you’re a hero.”

He blinked. “Did you just call me a hero?”

A crooked smile touched her lips. “I’m so going to pay for being sappy, huh?”

You totally are.” He liked the hint of green in her eyes. They were large in her small face and her mouth was a little off-centre, the top lip fuller than the bottom. He liked it, he wanted to kiss it.

It feels like forever since we really talked,” she said. “Why is that?”

Maybe because you’re always out with some guy. Who was it this time? The architect or the gym owner?”


Don’t tell me it’s none of my business, Sian.”

She climbed to her feet, her dress sagging like a sail without any wind, putting her back on display. Firm skin, small bones, strong. Strong like the way she’d been when his mom had had cancer—holding him, letting him know with her body against his that he would never be alone.

Then why do you still live here? Why are we both living under the same roof?” Fuck it, he was pushing things, he was probably ruining things, but he couldn’t take it anymore. He was on his feet, hands on his hips, looming over her.

It’s just easier—”

That’s bullshit. It’s not easy for me,” he said. “I still live here because I need to be close to you.”


Blurb for Forbidden Fire:

Sian Blaine grew up as firefighter Luke Cade’s caring older stepsister-it is forbidden to want his body covering hers-but when Luke takes her against the wall of the house they share, she can’t turn away from this persistent younger man.
Coffee shop owner Sian Blane is firefighter Luke Cade’s stepsister. He knows the shy older woman will never allow herself to see him as her lover, even after a sexy calendar is hung in the back room of her work place with Luke featured as Mr February sporting nothing more than his surfboard.
Luke has always been forbidden to Sian, but one night when she comes home from another endless, empty date, he stakes his claim, making her his woman. Now Sian must deal with the consequences of giving in to the beautiful, persistent younger man she's always wanted.
You can find Forbidden Fire here:

I'll be giving away a copy to one lucky person who comments! So don't forget to include your email address in the comment text!

And my website here:

Happy dreams!

Jan Irving has always been a creative person, from painting silk to making porcelain ceramics, to interior design, but writing is her passion. Her perfect day she’s writing a chapter and also painting a yoga mat or dyeing silk with marigolds.


Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, Jan!

Welcome back to Beyond Romance!

I've had a number of stories that got their start in dreams. However, I've never dreamed a full plot (that I remembered). Sometimes in a dream I with THINK that I have a great story - but by the time I wake a lot of the detail will be gone.

Good luck with Forbidden Fire. I love a book in which the protagonists are a bit different - and not perfect.

PAdoglady said...

I love your books!

Tamsyn said...

Forbidden Fire sounds like a great book. There have been a lot of older woman/younger man books out recently but none on the stepsister/stepbrother angle. Unique and fascinating angle to explore. Thanks for the giveaway.

Tameka said...

This book sounds do good a older woman fighting her feelings for her stepfather. Love the title I mean once you but forbidden in it you know it's going to be juicy. So wrong but feels so right. Lol

Ladystyx said...

It does sound Quite Intriguing. I love that you get your Story ideas From Dreams. I often Find myself Doodling Down Scenes I see in Dreams or Writing down Short Bursts of story to use for inspiration for my Art. Would Love to see How they End Up.
LAdystyx @

mcv said...

I love books with forbidden love themes and your book has TWO - step siblings and older woman, younger man. How delicious! I would love to win a copy.
mcv111 at hotmail dot com

Cornelia said...

Love your books,adding this one to have list.

felinewyvern said...

What a wonderful excerpt. It really emphasises the relationship between them. I really want to read more about them.

felinewyvern at googlemail dot com

Gabby said...

That's the same way I get my ideas, if they don't come to me when I'm almost asleep then they come to me when I'm daydreaming or recently when I'm just waking up.

I can't speak for everyone but for me having your ideas come to when you dream seems like the best way to get your stories started to help keeo them going.

Forbidden Fire sounds great, I'd love to get a chance to read this!

Jan Irving said...

It is a very odd, the dreams. I can only think it's because I spend so much time consciously planning books that somehow my unconscious takes the wheel sometimes. Usually with a story I'm not sure I'm ready to write. ^^

Thank you for having me again.

Jan Irving said...

Thank you so much.


Jan Irving said...

I like older woman/younger man plots but yeah, it's fun to find a fresh twist. Thank you!

Jan Irving said...

Yes, Sandra Brown once said if you can find a way to add the aspect of 'forbidden' into your romance plot, it will be compelling. She's right. Thank you!

Jan Irving said...

You do more than I do. I must write down more ideas as they happen. Thank you!

Jan Irving said...

Thank you, so do I.

And you have won a copy. I'll email it to you today. Let me know you get it safely.


Jan Irving said...

Thanks so much!


Jan Irving said...

Thank you. You can see why I was driven to write more after that bit. I needed to know what would happen.


Jan Irving said...

It's a mysterious process. So much of writing is accessing the unconscious.

Thank you for reading the excerpt.


hotcha12 said...


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