Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Sweet dreams are made of this

Recently I read Isabel Ashdown's Hurry Up and Wait, which is a coming of age story set in 1980s Britain. It really resonated with me not just because of the reality of the characters but also as I was a teenager at this time in a small town much like the one in the book, minus the sea. The fashion, food and music references were spot on but what really struck me was how many dreams featured in the story. To start with I thought it was too many but then I went away and thought about it and realised that people probably do remember their dreams that often. I do.

The way dreams are used in Hurry Up and Wait is clever as it hints at things that are being left unsaid and also captures the otherworldliness of dreaming really well. One of the passages describes what's happening in the dream but the narrator also: "...knows she's sleeping, can feel the weight of the sheets on her body. But she can't quite rise from the dream." I love that feeling when you are drifting and dreaming and the sleep world and the real word seem to merge into one.

But beyond liking how dreams were used in this book, it made me realise that I hadn't featured any in my novel despite my narrator going through a pretty tough time, which in all reality would manifest itself in her dreams. So, now I've added some. But you will have to wait until the novel is published (do you like the positive thinking there?) before you see how dreams are used in it.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear of more books that use dreaming in a way that stood out for you.


  1. I hate books that start with dreams, or when a dream explains the main conflict, but am otherwise fine with them in fiction.

    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  2. I'm glad you shared a book where you liked the use of dreams. Not every story can do it well. Of course, there's a rule about dreams ... and rules can be broken.

  3. Thanks for your comments Damyanti and Stacy.

    Stacy - intrigued as to what the dream rule is as I didn't know there was one...

  4. Hi! I'm taking part in the A to Z challenge, too, so I thought I'd stop by to say hello!
    It's not quite the same, but did you ever see Peter Spier's book DREAMS? It's beautiful.

    1. Hi Faith, thanks for stopping by and following my blog. I haven't read that book but will add it to my list as dreams intrigue me :)

  5. Visting from A-Z Challenge. At the moment I can't think any books I have read lately that incorporated dreams.

  6. I was a teen in the 80's too--I think I would like this book...I may see if I can check it out.

    Stopping by from the A-Z Challenge!!

    Cheers, Jenn

  7. Hi. Stopping by as an unofficial A To Z Challenge blogger (didn't hear about it soon enough). I love the realization this post brings about the absence of dreams in fiction. How can a character be fully rounded without their dreams being included? What a treat having another dimension added to my writing life. Other than that, the description of dreaming by the protagonist you've quoted sounds a lot like sleep paralysis. My daughter had a bad bout of it during college that was horrifying but easily cured when she discontinued Claritin-D. William Blake also had sleep paralysis, which filtered into much of his writing and art. Dreams can be so fascinating and have such an impact.

    Glad to "meet" you, and very glad I stumbled upon this post.

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  9. Thanks for all your comments everyone. I encourage everyone to live the dream and to read Hurry Up and Wait!

  10. I recently finished Leslie Lee's PACKAGED, which starts out very realistically but gets more and more dreamlike as it goes on. It's a fascinating piece. I gave it five of five stars at Goodreads. Blew me away!

    Like Damyanti, I don't much like it if a book begins with a dream, because I don't know the characters yet, although it CAN be a good way to plunge you into their emotions, fears and conflicts.

    Thanks for the book recommendation!

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes