Anyone who knows me is aware of how much I love to read, especially fiction. When searching for yet another eBook to read on Smashwords, I discovered Mary Marinan, writing as M. Marinan there. Her series Across Time & Space seemed interesting; therefore, I decided to download the first eBook The Eternity Stone (that is free) and give it a try. After a few chapters, I knew that Mary was a very gifted writer, so I stopped reading and purchased the entire series. Upon finishing the series, I then bought every eBook she ever wrote; yes, her books are that awesome!
Besides Mary’s excellent writing style, what intrigued me about this author was the majority of the M. Marinan’s eBooks appeared in her dreams beforehand. At the end of her eBooks, she would describe her dreams that assisted in her ideas to be used in the storyline. You know this dream interpreter just loved this fact! I reached out to her to see if she would do an interview for this blog, which she graciously accepted. Without, further ado Mary Marinan!
When did you start writing and what are your preferred genres?
I remember writing (and illustrating) travel journals as a kid, but I never thought of myself as a writer, more as a reader or artist. Then about ten years ago I’d just finished reading an unsatisfying novel – one where the characters had been unconvincing and kind of stupid, to be honest. I remember thinking, no one acts like that, and I could do better. I’d just had a really vivid dream about an underground city, and combined with the idea of ‘what if I met some time-travellers?’ I decided to see what I could come up with. That first story became The Eternity Stone, but it was published about 7 years after I began writing.
As for genre, I usually write young adult science fiction and/or fantasy – sometimes both in the same story. Sci-fi and fantasy because that’s what I enjoy reading most, and young adult because I’ve been told it’s a good fit with my writing style. I guess I write PG-13, with mild adult themes.
I also write and illustrate children’s books under the name Mary Em. (Safe for general audiences 😊)
Do you receive most of your book ideas from your nighttime dreams? How do you incorporate these dreams into your story plots?
I’ve published ten novels now, and each one was at least partly inspired by a vivid dream or two…or five. But it took me a while to realise that ideas from dreams, no matter how vivid or detailed, need to be carefully considered and only ever supplement a solid, logical storyline.
For example, my latest novel Unshakeable is based on one of the most fantastic dreams I ever had. I dreamed I was on Mars (why not?) and that it was covered in lush jungle, ancient cyborg animals and wild cities. I had been conscripted into the private army of a truly obnoxious teenage prince, and I was furious about it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much anger in a dream. At one point I was riding a high-speed flying horse-like creature called a farlac, and we were almost eaten by what looked like an albino plesiosaur (swimming dinosaur) when it leapt out of the water.
There was a lot more to it, but it was like watching a movie that I also got to act in. I was very much the character – I even knew my name ‘Iscendra’ meant ‘melody’ – complete with character-specific interests, family members and some personality issues. I remember waking up thinking, what happens next?!
So I wrote everything down before I forgot the details, which is always a danger with dreams. But I didn’t rush into starting the novel. Instead I would just think about the dream when I was doing something mindless like walking the dog or travelling to and from work. I’d play out different scenarios, fill in the gaps in the story or the obvious plot holes, and try to imagine what could have happened next.
In this case, many of the dream’s details made it into the final novel, right down to the villain (and the red herring). But I had to work out things like, if it’s set on Mars, what year would it be? How long would it take for a desert planet to be fully liveable & colonised? Why would there be such large animals there, and where did they come from since we don’t have those on Earth? How did the monarchy come about? Why does Iscendra have such an anger problem? Why is the prince such a jerk?
It’s always a fun challenge trying to answer questions like these. In general, if I can’t come up with a reasonable answer, then I leave out that element of the dream. It’s not worth having if it means damaging the story.
Besides using your dreams for your books, do you use your dream guidance for any other areas of your life?
Sometimes. If I have a dream that’s vivid enough to remember upon waking, I think on it to see if it draws any obvious real-life parallels or if a possible meaning comes to mind. (I don’t think the Mars dream had any meaning to me personally, by the way. It was just a fantastic opportunity for a story).
I’m a Christian and I think dreams are one way God can speak to us without our busy minds getting in the way. Sometimes it’s things I really need to hear – but just as often it’s my confused night-time brain making up nonsense. So while I take my dreams as prompts to reconsider real-life situations, I wouldn’t make a decision purely based on a dream unless I could also see real-life evidence that the decision is wise, if that makes sense.
What are you working on now?
Several projects. My next novel is a standalone sci-fi/fantasy called Tyger: an out of this world tale. Weird but cool dream influences – a portal that leads from Earth to another planet where the culture is about 1000 years behind ours – shapeshifters – evil rulers – racing elephants. Great fun!
About M. Marinan
M. Marinan is comfortably located in Wellington, New Zealand: a city that ‘you can’t beat on a fine day’. (Disclaimer: there aren’t that many fine days, but she’s still there.)
She loves stories with adventure, drama and a happy ending, and writes in the same vein. She also likes beautiful things, nice people and carefully created art – the sort that looks as though it took effort, not like a toddler painted it with a brush stuck to their forehead. She also illustrates all her own work. It’s fun, she knows the characters…and she’s a bit cheap.
Thanks to Massey University for making her feel qualified to publish her own work, and for giving her a student debt that will follow her into her old age. (It was worth it.)
To learn more about M. Marinan, her books, or for the book links to your favorite bookstore, please visit her website.