The following is copied from the most recent A.R. Wise newsletter that was sent out to subscribers.
Shudder Inn is the next book I plan on releasing, and I’ve never felt better about a novel than I do this one. Nothing I’ve ever written has affected me more than this, and today I came to a stunning realization about it that I’d like to share.
First off, I need to give a quick explanation about the basic premise of the book. Shudder Inn follows the story of Isabella Rothchild, a teenager with the astonishing ability to enter the dreams of others and help guide them through a lucid experience. Shudder Inn is a sequel (of sorts) to the 314 series, but not in the normal sense. None of the characters of 314 have anything to do with this story, but it exists in the same universe, and there are other similarities I don’t want to reveal here. Isabella is tasked with helping take people through dreams in which they reconnect with lost loved ones, which brings me to the reason for this newsletter.
The inspiration for this novel came from the loss of my mother almost a year ago. After she passed, I anxiously waited for the first dream I had of her, hoping for the chance to spend time with her again. That dream didn’t come along for months, and when it did it wasn’t what I’d hoped for. That got me thinking about lucid dreaming, and what it would be like to be able to visit with her again in a perfect setting – an experience I could cherish. From that idea sprang the premise of Shudder Inn.
Before I continue, let me assure you that this is a horror novel, so don’t get the wrong idea of what sort of genre this book’s going to be in! Isabella’s going to have to deal with nightmares along the way that might be coming to life in her town, but that’s not what I wanted to focus on in this newsletter.
Recently I posted something on the A.R. Wise Facebook Fanpage asking this question: If you could dream about anything, including a lost loved one, what would you dream about? The response I received shook me to my core, and reaffirmed everything I felt about how important this book is to me, and hopefully to my readers. Among the responses were a few about the loss of a child, and how the person would love the chance to see them one more time – in some cases it was to be with them again, in other it was to ask them why they committed suicide.
I’ve had a few moments in my writing career that stopped me in my tracks, slammed my head against a figurative wall, and rattled everything I thought I knew about myself and my writing. Today was one of those days. But don’t get me wrong, it was a good thing. Possibly one of the best experiences in my writing career.
When I sit down to write, I draw upon my own experiences, fears, joys, and whatever other muses stir in my head. It’s an intensely personal, introverted experience. Then, when it’s time to put the work out there I have no idea whether or not it will connect with people. Today was different. Today I discovered just how powerful this silly little job of mine can be. My books act as an opportunity for me to reach out and grab onto other people. I get to reach out and shake you, scare you, and sometimes embrace you.
After reading the responses to my question I retreated from my desk, thought long and hard about what this meant to me, and cried a bit. Not because I was sad, but because I felt so honored by the way people shared their stories with me. I felt such an intense kinship and empathy for those of you who shared your experiences, and took a moment to share the idea of that perfect, lucid dream with a lost loved one.
I came up with an idea – a chance to tighten that metaphorical embrace from me to you.
I want to ask a favor of you. I want to ask permission to share a bit of your dream with readers. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title: My Shudder Inn Dream. In the email, tell me who you’d like to dream about. Who did you lose, and what would you like to dream about doing with them one last time. Then I’m going to take these stories and add them in a special appendix of the book as examples of dreams that a person like Isabella might be able to give. I want to take your story about the loved one you cherish, and make it as immortal as I have the power to do. It’s the least I can do, and I’d be honored for the opportunity.
Shudder Inn has been a cathartic writing experience unlike anything I’ve ever done. In all my years of writing, I’ve never been more proud of a book, and never more certain of its quality. This book is me exercising demons, expelling depression and sadness and self-torture and the other vile garbage that stinks up our brains sometimes, and I want to experience that with you. Like I said, I want to reach out with that figurative embrace and squeeze you as tight as I can.
Thanks for your time, and your stories. Really, thank you thank you thank you. I’m honored beyond measure.