Here for the chicken

A lot of people ask me where I get my ideas for books. While some are the sort that come to me as I sit and stew and try to think of a story, my favorites all come from dreams.

There’s something weird about the unconscious mind, those completely unfettered thoughts and notions that can have such an impact they even change our lives. My husband and I have often discussed our dreams, and while I have dreams where I’m another person (A character in a story or some such) all the time, he never does. A lot of times, dreaming a story means I take the role of one of the characters, or else I serve as some kind of omniscient spectator

And then there’s ones like Rune’s dream.
I couldn’t tell you what brought it on or how it translated into the story that came from it, but my dreams were where he was created.

It started off as a dream mimicking reality, me sitting in my room at my old DOS-based Packard Bell computer. I had been trying to come up with a story for weeks in waking life, and I guess that frustration carried over, because that’s what I was doing in the dream – Sitting at the computer, staring at the blinking cursor, trying to think of what I could write.

Then I smelled something delicious. I was a teenager then, living with my family in an old farmhouse. In absence of actual ductwork, most of the rooms upstairs had vents to the floor below. The room I shared with my sister was over the kitchen, so we were often treated to the tantalizing smells of dinner long before it was done. It smelled great, but I didn’t know what she was cooking, so I got up from my chair and went downstairs to see.

That’s when I saw him.

Standing right next to the stove, watching my mother fry chicken like it was nothing out of the ordinary. Like he was nothing out of the ordinary.
If you’re not familiar with Rune by now, let me offer an old drawing from several years ago that I never finished:

Needless to say, I was confused, so I posed the only logical question: “Who are you?”
He looked at me, looked around, and said, “I’m just here for the chicken.”

As much as I’d like to talk about how then he took dream-me off into grand adventures in the fantasy world that would end up consuming the rest of my life as a writer, that’s where the dream ended. Right there, nothing else.
Just here for the chicken.

So how did that turn into the inspiration for a 180,000-word fantasy epic and two subsequent, equally-long novels that aren’t finished yet?
Beats me. I have no idea. But when I woke up, the whole story was already fully-formed in my head.

So that’s become a bit of a joke between me and a lot of friends.
Sometimes characters and stories evolve as you seek them, and sometimes, they’re just there for the chicken.

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