Today we have the master behind Dreamtreaders, Wayne Thomas Batson, to answer a few questions about his book.
Batson: Hi, Jeff, thanks for the invitation. Nice to hang out with you for a bit.
Chapman: I've seen movies and read books in which the protagonist ventures into their own dream world or
the dreams of others. What makes your vision in Dreamtreaders unique?
While I’m sure I haven’t seen all the other dream fantasy out there, the
ones I have seen make the dream world seem like a very impersonal
place. It’s simply an undiscovered counrty to explore or manipulate.
In Dreamtreaders, the Dream Realm is deeply personal. There’s a
point and a purpose to the whole thing. There are forces at work in the
Dream realm for good or for ill, and the consequences of meddling
with the Dream realm are serious.
Several of your series have an ancient or secret book at their center and you incorporate lengthy
passages into your narrative. I'm thinking of the Berinfell Prophicies and The Door Within.
Dreamtreaders has The Dreamtreader's Creed. What's behind the book-within-a-book method?
Perceptive note and very true. In fact, my Dark Sea Annals series has
even more “ancient text” script than any of my other series. There are
two reasons for this book-within-a-book technique: 1) having the
ancient text gives readers a reason for why characters do what they
do. Some of the texts are Creeds or Codes of Conduct, do’s and don’ts.
Many of the text examples give backstory so that we understand, for
instance, why a war fought a thousand years ago compels a
character to action now. 2) the other reason is really because the
ancient text examples contribute to the worldbuilding of the series.
Reading ancient creeds, poems, almanacs, etc. gives you a sense that
there’s a history to this fantasy world, a cultural heritage. It’s more
real than fantasy.
You do a wonderful job of capturing “school life” in Dreamtreaders. Do you draw primarily on your
own experiences as a student or has your time on the other side of the desk given you more
First, thank you for the kind words. Honestly, my versions of “school
life” come both from my experiences as a student and over 24 years
of teaching. I know it’ll sound hard to believe, but I really do
remember what it was like to be a middle school / high school kid. It
resonates clearly in my memory, even the day to day stuff. I
remember being in awe of a best friend who just oozed cool. I
remember crushes. I remember teachers who were kind or not so. I
remember the hard work and homework. I remember the pressure.
And I remember the volatility of everything.
And, of course, I’ve been teaching middle school for so long that some
of my students are married with kids old enough for me to teach. I’ve
seen generations of young folks come and go. I was there for
Operation Desert Storm. I was there for 911. I’ve seen every fad you
can imagine. But kids are still kids. And they are in the middle of some
of the most incredible adventures that life has to offer. I just hope to
accurately depict a little of what goes on in that pivotal and thrilling
Dreamtreaders posits a three-state worldview. Are these different places or just different states
Ethereal, Dream, and Temporal—these are the three worlds. Each
feeds and informs the other. Temporal and Ethereal are distinct
places. The Dream is kind of a combination of place and state of mind.
Because states of matter in the Dream are formed from the
subconscious of every person alive, a kind of “group created
environment,” you could also say it is a form of consciousness. Each
of the three worlds has its own environment, its own beauties, and its
Anchors play a major role in Dreamtreaders and I suspect you're making a bigger point than just
getting back to the temporal world. What do anchors mean to you and your characters?
Oh, Heavens, yes! Living in America in 2014, I feel like people are
adrift. In just the 24 years I’ve witnessed a catastrophic change in kids
and, if I’m honest, with many adults as well. We’ve lost our
grounding. We don’t stand for much of anything beyond self and so,
we fall for anything. We bounce from belief to belief, philosophy to
philosophy, and never really come to grips with the big issues of life.
We need anchors. I believe one anchor to be more critical than
all the others: Jesus Christ. If we trust Him, His word, His promises, His
goodness, then we can stand against the worst this world can throw
at us. We have a foundation from which to analyze worldly messages.
When lies are put in front of us, we already know the truth so well that
the counterfeit sticks out like a blistered thumb. Having God as your
anchor will keep you secure in the wildest wind and waves.
There are other anchors too: family, friends, honesty, bravery,
etc.—all things we can count on, all things that keep us grounded. But
these anchors are under assault right now. Technology is great but it’s
destroying our ability to relate to each other personally. We long for
“likes” on our facebook page and see how many people retweeted
our wisdom or commented on our blog post, but we have trouble
sitting in the same room with someone face-to-face. It’s scary out
there. And being adrift is more terrifying still. It’s like floating in deep
water, knowing there are likely sharks swimming below, but unable to
see them or know when they might attack.
I didn’t write Dreamtreaders to communicate this message, but it
became apparent that it was thematically critical to Archer and the
world in which he lives. They need anchors just like we do. When they
use their anchors, they are safe and secure. But when they cut free
from their anchors, they drift away. And sometimes, they drift far
enough away that they can no longer come back.
Thanks again, Jeff!
“Anchor first; Anchor Deep.”
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of Dreamtreaders from the publisher.
To read more about Wayne Thomas Batson and his work, check out his blog at http://enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com/.
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