Recently, I’ve had several people ask me what inspired my novel, PELICAN BAY. I wish I could tell you that there is some ingenious idea behind the book.
The truth is that about three years ago, sleeping restlessly during those delicate hours when dawn is just beginning to shoo away the night with her long white fingers, I dreamed I was standing on a South Carolina beach with a faceless woman by my side. But hardly faceless in my heart. To my right were grass-bearded dunes, orange-black humps in the predawn light. To my left was the groaning shadow of a dock reaching out to sea.
When we stared out in front of us, only dozens of feet beyond the surf, dark stones littered the sea’s floor. I remember asking the faceless woman in the dream if she saw the bizarre stones as well. She was voiceless as well as faceless.
I wanted to walk closer to the sea to investigate, but awoke in a cold sweat to the reality of my old house instead. That peaceful useless house that sits in the foyer of Alabama, its hoarsely whispering backyard pines throwing stars at Birmingham. That house that no longer belongs to me. No longer speaks to me. In the night.
As I sat up in bed, all that I could think about was the Carolina Sea, the dunes, and most of all, the dark rocks under the ocean. They haunted me all day long, until I finally flipped open my notebook computer and gently pounded away, my fingers seeming to think for themselves.
From here is where it all began. The faceless woman became someone very real from my past, someone you may hate and love and hate. And everything else, including Captain Shelby, came from that dream. That eerie dream that started a fictional avalanche that eventually got me published.
So sorry if the impetus behind PELICAN BAY isn’t sexy enough for you. But I have come to believe that the lines between dreams and reality are not as bold as we would like them to be. I feel that one of my missions as an author is to blur those lines in my work, for in my mind, heart, and soul, I believe that the truth lies, not in just one.
But in both.
Yours in literature,