Sometime around 1981, when I was eleven years old, I bought Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of the movie Alien.
It started with an interesting sequence, something not contained in the movie or in any version of the script that I’m aware of (in all honesty, I haven’t read any of the movie’s scripts): The following is the introductory paragraph of Foster’s Alien:
You must understand that they were not professional dreamers. Professional dreamers are highly paid, respected, much sought-after talents. Like the majority of us, these seven dreamt without effort or discipline. Dreaming professionally, so that one’s dreams can be recorded or played back for the entertainment of others, is a much more demanding proposition. It requires the ability to regulate semi-conscious creative impulses and to stratify imagination, an extraordinarily difficult combination to achieve. A professional dreamer is simultaneously the most organized of all artists and the most spontaneous. A subtle weaver of speculation, not straightforward and clumsy like you or I. Or these certain seven sleepers.
Of them all, Ripley came closest to possessing that special potential…
The first three pages of Alien talk about the now-famous crew of the Nostromo and how they’d fare as professional dreamers. Foster spends so much time expanding on something not part of the Alien universe that I wonder if it was something he’d thought about on his own for a separate book.
And, it planted a seed that, thirty-some years later, motivated me to write a short story called “The Nightmare Man” which appeared in a bogus Craigslist hijack called Scary Stories, and finally in a legitimate short-story anthology, Nightscapes, from my first publisher, Stonegarden Publishing.
I thought about the type of person who could dream for a living and came up with Owen Tipton. Owen lives like a rockstar, but his inner life is much different than his public persona. In my mind, he’s Sting from the earliest era of the Police: cocky, cerebral, and haunted all at the same time. He’s a savant who doesn’t understand why he’s able to do what he does, which makes it all the more disturbing when he loses power over his dreams…which gain power until he’s almost destroyed by them.
The Vault is coming in January from Black Rose Writing. It’s a big book (94,000 words) with big images, big visuals and big concepts…and I can’t wait to share it with you.