What Dreams may come… What dreams may go.

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Once upon a time I was in a band.

We rehearsed regularly and toured quite a bit across many venues in and around London. It was a great experience. I would write the occasional lyrics, but was more concerned with actually playing the instrument (especially live).

In the early 2000’s while in the middle of my tenure in said band, I set off to Kefalonia for a holiday. This is a beautiful Greek island, captured in all its glory in Louis de Bernières’ book: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

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One evening, while I slept, I dreamt the lyrics and music for a song.

The words stood out, and I excitedly sung them over and over in the dream. It was catchy beyond belief. When I awoke, I was mesmerised – how brilliant was it to have a dream like this, in a location like this? The song remained stuck in my head for the first part of that sunlit morning.

I didn’t immediately seek a pen to write it down.

Instead, I showered, leisurely strolled into the local village to buy freshly baked bread, made breakfast, took the hire car to a pleasant beach, sunbathed etc.

By lunchtime I’d completely forgotten the lyrics, the riff… everything. All that remained was a residue; an echo of something that wouldn’t quite form. It was there, but trapped behind a mirror, reflecting a mirror. The most basic, beautiful thing and I’d neglected it in completeness. The fact I can write this over two decades later reminds of the power of the event, and the regret of forfeiting a thing of beauty.

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When I’m writing novels, I haven’t – as of yet anyway – dreamt any story lines.

However, the prelude to writing The Children at the River’s End was accompanied by some unusual and quite powerful dreams. Real pathways and tracks, I’d historically walked up and down, across the length and breadth of this country, and on each and every occasion, they always led to a dead end: a wall; a farm, or an impenetrable forest…

But not in my dreams.

Here, the paths went on… opening out into the most glorious villages with picturesque and perfectly placed houses, stationed on the gentlest of grassy knolls, replete with an abundance of rolling fields. I would stand there, marveling. I was exhilarated, and yet, equally confounded by their discovery. In the real world, they weren’t there, but they were very real in this place, and I was amazed at what I beheld.

And then one evening, I dreamt of the beck.

The very same river I write about in The Children at the River’s End.

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Here, I was buffeted along by quite powerful currents, being pulled along a curve in the river near an old stone barn. I was heading towards the River Swale – reputedly the fastest flowing river in England – but I felt peace in the tempest. I had no control. I let go, and let it take me.

And this is the truth:  it was one dark day, maybe a week or so later, while I was recalling these dreams that I remembered the joy I had playing in this same beck as a kid. I Immediately pulled up Google Earth to scroll down on the same body of water from above. It was for nostalgic reasons, comforting really. And as soon as I scrolled down, the entire story idea came. Right there, in a flash, in a heartbeat. Can’t explain it. All there. No exaggeration. No embellishment.

All I can say is that, if dreams are a medium of creativity and inspiration, then I can only gratefully declare I have benefitted, and would love (I mean truly love) to keep experiencing this modus operandi for future works. It wasn’t direct inspiration, per se, but I’m left forever wondering: what if I hadn’t pushed down on that map, magnifying it to an almost grainy level? What dreams may come… what dreams may go?

This time I acted, and the whole story came.

Hopefully, you can be the judge as to whether or not it’s any good?

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One day, in the future, I’ll share with you three other coincidences that occurred while I wrote this novel, in all their goose-flesh prickling glory. Definitely left me with food for thought, and a deeper hunger for these lines of inspiration.

In parting, all I can say is, I’m super grateful I got to write this book.

To you all, have a great day.

James Steven Clark

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