Where did the ideas for “The Dream Detective” come from?
There’s a book, or series of stories, by Sax Rohmer called The Dream Detective—I don’t remember anything else about it, but I’ve always loved the title. Years ago I woke up from a dream in which I had suddenly remembered that I’d killed somebody—although I couldn’t remember why, or how I’d managed to get away with it. Of course, it was only a dream, but after I woke up, the disturbing feeling of it haunted me, and naturally (because I’m a writer!) I started writing a story about someone who one day remembers the terrible crime that he’d managed to hide from himself . . . I never got very far with that story; couldn’t figure out where to go with it (that’s often a problem with dream-stories). The idea came back to me recently, only now the fictional murder was back where it started—in a dream. And then I had to ask myself how a dream-murder could affect anyone except the person who dreamed it, and decided to borrow Sax Rohmer’s title, and so it developed.
The ending manages to be both satisfying and causes a want for more. Are there more stories about these characters?
I will confess that the ending took me by surprise—in the first draft, the ending was different . . . and not quite satisfactory. I had always intended this to be—like most of my stories—self-contained, and even when I rewrote the ending, that’s what I was intending: I only meant to imply that the lives of these characters were continuing off the page, not to return to their story . . . but now I think I will write about them again.
In the story, Grace appears in the narrator’s dream, and that’s just after she admitted that she felt he might need her help. How do you see Grace’s ability? Does she go where she chooses in dreams, or is she drawn to people in need?
Originally I thought of Grace as having more of a fantasy than an actual ability! She has very little conscious control over it . . . the dream-Grace is sort of a “second self.”
What’s next for you?
At the moment I am writing what I hope will be the final draft of a novel (I’ve been working on it for a long time). But I’ve also promised to deliver two new short stories in the next month, so somehow I have to fit them in.
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