Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What We're writing--Rhys confesses.

RHYS BOWEN: Continuing our new feature on Jungle Red: a week of posts on "What We're Writing." 

Hear the latest from:
Hallie Ephron Monday
Hank Phillippi Ryan Tuesday
Rhys Bowen Wednesday
Lucy Burdette Thursday
Deborah Crombie Friday

Julia Spencer Fleming Saturday
Sunday: what we're reading. 

 I am actually taking a breather between books. I have just turned in my eighth Royal Spyness book called Queen of Hearts and I'm waiting to do the copy edits--a process I describe as being stalked by a serial comma. I sometimes suspect that copy editors have nothing to do but go through my work inserting commas willy-nilly. I think it reads perfectly fine with no serial commas. Maybe it's an English versus American thing!

Since I write two books a year, the breather is always very short--especially since I write historical novels and they all require a lot of research. For example Queen of Hearts takes place on a transatlantic liner and then in 1930s Hollywood. Yes, I did suffer for my craft by taking the Queen Mary across the Atlantic last year!

So now I'm in pre-writing mode for my next Molly book. I have already decided that the next Molly story will be about Freud's interpretation of dreams--he had just published his book on the subject--and will feature a young girl who can remember nothing about a horrific crime but is having vivid and violent dreams. Can a dream psychologist who has just trained with Professor Freud interpret what really happened that night?

So I'm reading, or rather wading through, Freud's actual book on dream interpretation. Then more books on the history of psychology. I decided to write about this as one of the most exciting courses I took in college was on dream psychology. We were taught universal dream symbols and how psychologists use dream symbols to help interpret troubled people. I've used my knowledge ever since to interpret my own dreams. Who knew that college could actually be useful at last?

Anyway, the book will be called Beautiful Dreamer and may involve Molly's dreams too.
But since I haven't started writing it yet I'm going to tease you with a snippet of Queen of Hearts, due out next August. It's a great segue from Hallie's next book as it takes place mainly in 1930s Hollywood. But this scene is on the transatlantic liner:

EXCERPT FROM QUEEN OF HEARTS, (Berkley Prime Crime, August 2014)

 I looked up in horror as Algie staggered toward me again.  He had now taken off his visor and was looking rather bleary eyed. “I say, Georgie. Care to trip the light fantastic again?” he asked. “it’s a slow waltz this time.  Nothing too violent.” But he pronounced the word as “schlow,” and swayed as he said it, nearly knocking over our table.

“You know I think it’s time you went to bed, Algie,” I said. “If you try to dance again it will be another of your disasters.”

“You may be right, old bean,” he said. “The room is swaying around a bit. Is that me or the ship tilting?”

“It’s you,” I said. “Come on. I’ll lead you out.”

We crossed the ballroom without any major mishaps. “Which deck is your cabin on?” I asked.

“A deck.”

“Oh, so is mine.”

I led him down one flight of stairs and pointed him in the direction of his cabin.  Without warning he grabbed me and I found myself on the receiving end of a horribly slobbery kiss. Actually it reminded me of a Labrador we’d had when I was little—but not as pleasant. I struggled to push him away.

“What do you think you’re doing, Algie?”

“Only a little kiss, old bean. For old times sake, don’t you know?”

“Just because I was helping you to your cabin didn’t mean that I was inviting that sort of behavior.”

He was still holding me round the waist. “But dash it all, Georgie. You’re a girl and I’m a healthy, red-blooded male and my Pater is always telling me to seize the moment, so I did.”

I didn’t quite know whether to laugh or be indignant. “Sorry, but that doesn’t include seizing me. Go on, off to bed.”

“Speaking of beds,” he said, eyeing me with what he hoped was a lecherous leer, “I say. You wouldn’t fancy a spot of the old rumpy pumpy would you? Seeing that our cabins are so close to each other.”

“Thanks awfully, but no,” I replied. This time I couldn’t stifle the grin.

“That’s what all the girls say. They tell me American girls are easier. God, I hope so.” And off he staggered, down the passageway.
I was going to turn in myself but my own head felt a bit fuzzy from the cocktails so I went out onto the deck and stood at the railing. An almost full moon was shining on the black water, highlighting the white caps of the wake. Sounds of the orchestra playing that slow waltz floated out to me. I stood there, staring out to sea, feeling melancholy and with a deep ache of yearning inside me. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I caught a movement.  I thought I saw something come flying out of the side of the ship.  Something large, hurtling down toward the water.  For a moment I didn’t quite believe what I had seen and thought it might be a trick of the moonlight, but then I heard the splash as it hit the waves far, far below.

 RHYS: Now I have to drag my mind back to New York in 1905. That's always one of the challenges of writing two series in two different worlds. I like to finish with one before I start on the other.  So do share--have you had any interesting experiences with interpreting dreams?


  1. I never seem to remember my dreams, so I’ve no interpretation experiences to share, but I think “Beautiful Dreamer” sounds like an absolutely fascinating story . . . .

    What a fun scene from “Queen of Hearts” --- now I’m anxious to read the rest of it . . . .

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  3. Oh my lord. This JRW week is going to do some series damage to my To Be Read pile. As if the tower wasn't already in danger of falling over.

    Lady Georgiana on a trans-Atlantic liner? Count me in!

    Thanks for the sneak peek Rhys. And good luck with the copy-edits.

  4. Rhys, I'm crazy for the Interpretation of Dreams idea--you are so clever. I took an advanced class on Freud during my fellowship--not easy to slog through his stuff.

    And I love the excerpt too.

  5. Well, I never had a dream about tornadoes until after the first time I watched The Wizard of Oz when I was six years old. They stopped for a few years and then started up again when I vacationed at a place where there was tornado activity reported on the radio. I had no idea where to go for shelter, and I was scared! Afterwards, whenever I had a trip planned to that area, I had one of those dreams again. usually, there really was a tornado watch or warning in the area while I was there. So I think I understand THOSE dreams, but other than that, I plan to sit here today and learn about dream interpretation from the rest of you:-)

    And Rhys, I can't wait to read the entire book! I'm beginning to think I ought to take vacation days here and there to do nothing but read; there are too many books out there I haven't read yet and many more on the way that I know I'll want to read.

  6. Oooh, Queen of Hearts has already grabbed me. Of course something or somebody has to go overboard!

    When my kids were young and I had quite the handful of responsibilities I had two very disturbing recurring dreams. A friend and neighbor who was getting a doctorate in psychology agreed to have a session with me in exchange for some alterations to her too-long clothing. She basically hypnotized me, which I didn't realize beforehand, but the results were stunningly accurate.

    One of the dreams was too disturbing to recount--it still makes me shiver--but the other one came from an Omnimax movie I'd taken the kids to. One scene had a guy climbing a sheer cliff, hundreds of feet in the air, and his belaying pins popped off, one by one, leaving him dangling over what looked like an endless chasm. I kept dreaming that was me (terrified of heights), hopeless and frozen with terror.

    My friend helped me figure out that I was scared of moving on in a writing project that I'd wanted to do for years, and that I was, quite literally, stuck and hanging about it.

    Once I understood all this the dreams stopped, and the same with the other one. It was so interesting. Look forward to Molly's experiences with dreams, Rhys.

  7. Love your Georgie books and can't wait for this one! What does moving to a new house symbolize? I have had that dream before. But my more frequent dreams are the final exams but haven't done the reading dream, the going back to college but can't decide on a major dream, the ditched school so often don't know where the classes are or my locker combination dream. I rarely have what I consider a true nightmare. Lots of times the dreams are just weird but entertaining. Except for the aforementioned anxiety dreams. So Dr Rhys, any ideas on my mental state?

  8. I love the whole idea of exploring the symbolism of dreams, but for some reason, I've never done any of that. I do have one recurring dream - one I've had since forever. I have purposely not tried to figure it out 'cause I've always worried if I knew what it meant, I might not have it any more and I enjoy it. Silly, I know.

    Thanks for the excerpt, Rhys, it sounds wonderful!!!!

  9. Pat, when you dream about a house it is usually thought that the house is YOU, how you see yourself, so means that you are moving on, ready to change or being forced to change, according to whether the dream is pleasant or not.

    And the exam, college dream is so very usual. I get it too. It's when we're overwhelmed with what we have to do or faced with a task we're not sure we're up to.
    And climbing the cliff and being poised to fall, Karen--same sort of thing. Tackling something you are not sure about and may fail in.
    And Susan, the Queen Mary was a terrific experience. So elegant

  10. From charming lech to body overboard! Love it!

    I have the house dream too - mine's a labyrinthian affair, filled with random people from my life (mostly from high school, oddly), and I'm trying to get out of there--usually I'm trying to catch a flight--but can't get out.

    I love anything to do with dreams. Your next Molly book sounds great!

  11. Rhys, I want to do YOUR research:-)

    Oooh, can't wait to read Queen of Hearts! But then I'm always eagerly awaiting Georgie's next adventure.

    The Molly book sounds fascinating. I've never done much dream journaling or analysis, so this may get me started. Very interesting!

  12. Oh, Rhys, the next Molly sounds so intriguing. I'm fascinated by dreams and how they're connected to real life. I'm actually good at remembering what I've dreamed, and it's often fairly easy to relate to life. However, there are those dreams that mystify and confuse. I'm so looking forward the Molly's involvement with dream interpretation.

    Oh, and let me join in on sympathizing about your hardship research.

  13. You have my attention! (Sitting up straight!)Love the "teaser."

    I had an odd dream last night -- I had on a gown (I NEVER dress up), and was going to some event -- but the place had all sorts of dead ends and confusions. And my main concern was that I had misplaced the tweed coat I wore over the gown.

    Have at it!!

  14. I dream that I'm trying to get packed for a trip on the Queen Mary and there's not enough time and I can't get to the dock in time.... Anxiety dreams. Knowing what it's about doesn't help.

    LOVE the idea about the student of Freud. Brilliant!!

  15. So jealous you sailed on the Queen Mary, Rhys - that's on my bucket list. Once more I'm left wondering why I decided on a mystery series that involves me researching in upstate New York in the winter.

    No experience at all in dream interpretation, though I'm fascinated by the history of Freudian analysis.

    Also, I'm going to shoehorn the phrase "the old rumpy-pumpy" into my conversation as soon as humanly possible.

  16. Denise Ann--my off the cuff interpretation would be that you would like to show off your sparkling side but are half afraid to (so you need the coat handy to cover up the gown) and mixed in with this is the classic anxiety dream of losing one's way, finding NO WAY OUT. (Dreams often interpret themselves by the words we choose.

    And Hallie I have that packing--not enough time dream often. We're trying to do too much.

  17. Reese— I'm so, so, so looking forward to reading BEAUTIFUL DREAMER! I love the concept. We studied dreams in our counseling and psychotherapy program. Fascinating and a Great way to go at a mystery! All of your books have wonderful historic settings—one of my top favorite time periods.

  18. Rhys... sorry, my speech-to-text upgrade hasn't learned to spell your name correctly, yet. Blushing because I didn't catch it!

  19. Interpretation of dreams - that's a hook for me.

    I had a recurring dream every spring and fall for many years. I won't recount it, but I finally figured out that it was related to a source of ongoing trauma that began every fall and stopped in the spring.

    I can still recall the dream but have not had it since the trauma ended.

  20. Yes, the house is the self. I used to dream about a bungalow, quite nice actually. I would meet people there. About the time my mother's mental and physical problems started, I dreamed she was lying on the sofa in the bungalow, while a group of people were milling about in the dining area, where the table was set for a buffet or pot-luck. Then two women managers from work - and NOT two that I liked! - turned to me, one handed me a cup of coffee, and the other said "Here. Go take care of your mother. We'll take care of this." I took it to mean I was to let go of my over-developed work ethic and do what was really important. I've never been back to the house.