Write On: Dreaming Writing Into Reality with Nadette Rae Rodgers

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Today on Write On we are lucky to feature Nadette Rae Rodgers, author of Illusion and the forthcoming Illusion Trilogy. Nadette is a Pennsylvania author, passionate about writing for all ages. Her interest in dreams inspired her first novel. For Write On, she helps us explore dreams and dreamscapes in writing.

Nadette is a member of the Quill & Scroll Society. She was also a featured author at the Beaver County Book Fest and Passages & Prose 2016: A Gathering of Authors & their Books.  Follow her on twitter @NadetteRae and read more of her writing on her blog.

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1) Your Illusion Trilogy plays with the idea of dreams invading our real life. Did you base this premise on experiences from your own life?

The storyline didn’t exactly come from personal experiences I’ve had in my life, but I’m sure we’ve all experienced a bit of deja vu where you’re just going about your day and think to yourself, Did I dream this happened already? So I guess I took that feeling and asked myself “What if that really happened to someone?”

 

2) From a psychological and neurological perspective, there is a great deal of disagreement about the role of dreams and the role they play in our lives and our health. How do you integrate these contradictions in your writing?

Everyone dreams. Some people may not remember them in the morning, but everyone does. Some dreams are inspirational or calm, while other dreams, or “nightmares”, cause anxiety for many people and can shake you to your core. I wanted to really play off of a natural occurrence all people could relate to and that’s why I chose the topic of dreams. In the book, Addison’s dreams definitely affect her health. If she fell in a dream, she’d wake up with a cut and blood dripping down her leg. REM Behavior Disorder is definitely a real thing- very rare, but real all the same- where people act out the dreams they are having. Typically, it is not to the extent of Addison’s dreams as I was trying to exaggerate this, but for people suffering from any type of sleep disorder, dreams play a big role in their health.

3) Writing classes often malign the use of dreams as a cop-out for the ending of stories. How do you recommend writers incorporate dreams and dreamscapes into their writing while still avoiding the cliche-riddled path of “it was all a dream” endings.

Well, in the case of Illusion, it may appear that I followed that cliche-riddled path of the “it was all a dream” ending. However, the reader will uncover more to Addison’s story in books two and three, which I can’t say much about just yet.

But I guess my advice would be to make it your own and add a twist to it. You want to leave the reader guessing, unsure if it really was a dream after all or not. Give the reader just enough information in your ending to leave them satisfied and happy, but still eager for the next book. I get asked all the time “When’s book two coming?”

4) Do your own dreams inspire your writing?

Not really. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced dreams like Addison. I would say that my interest in dreams inspired the book, though.

5) Have you read much on the analysis of dreams–do you see any value to this approach for writers who want to explore the unconscious mindscape in their writing?

I’m very intrigued with dream analysis, so I’m always analyzing my dreams the next day!

Dreams are a very common occurrence in books; I could list books I’ve read in the past few months that all have a dream scene or a description of a dream.

As with any part of the plot, the dream sequence should tell part of the story. You don’t want to have a pointless dream that tells the reader nothing and acts as filler.

So I would say any research, even just investigating your own dreams and figuring out their meaning, can offer relatable insight into the mind of your character when you write a dream scene.

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6) What was your favorite part about working on the Illusion Trilogy?

I think my favorite part was the ability to take something that everyone could relate to (dreaming) and turn it into this whole other world. The dream realm and the dream scenes were probably my favorites to write because it was so creative and intriguing to me. The possibility authors have to turn words into a whole world is still amazing to me!

7) What’s next for you?

I am currently working on the second book in the Illusion Trilogy, so I’m hoping to have that out sometime soon!

Writing the sequel has allowed me to dig deeper into the characters’ backstories and write from new perspectives, and doing so has given me ideas for future books- some not related to the Illusion Trilogy.

A Flash of Red: Anna tells all (well, sort of)

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What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?

I love cooking for my husband–he just loves my meals and he’s a little picky, so I love the challenge of making delicious things for him.  He’s really helped me become an expert in the kitchen.

Do you have any favorite recipes?

Sean, my husband, has a lot of fond memories of his mother’s cooking, so I’ve worked on recreating those recipes for him over the years. Chicken a la King. Strawberry Shortcake.  Nothing terribly fancy, but–you know, it’s really difficult to match your mother-in-law’s cooking. I’d definitely say I’m improving.

Did Sean’s mother give you her recipes, or is she one of those women who won’t share their culinary secrets?

When we were first married, I asked Sean’s father for them, but he couldn’t find them.  I’m sure, if she were here, though, that she’d be more than willing to share.

What about outside of the kitchen?  What type of work do you do?

I’m a professor at Ambrose University.  I’ll be up for tenure soon and, just between you and me, it seems likely that I’ll get it.  It’s been a lot of effort, but it should pay off in the end. Once I make tenure, I’ll be able to focus even more time on my home life.  I’m sure Sean will appreciate that.

What do you teach?

Psychology.  Right now I’m teaching a course in abnormal development.  We examine mental illness and its origins.

I’m sure your students enjoy that topic–it sounds incredibly interesting–but it must be draining to focus so much on how people’s minds can break down.

Yes, it can be. But, you know, I try to focus on the positive and not let it affect me.  I’m a firm believer that, if you work hard enough at a goal or a problem, you can fix it.

But surely there are some problems that require outside help? That you can’t solve on your own?

Other people’s problems and failings–yes, certainly those are out of your own control. Even in my own life, especially recently, I’ve been let down by the weakness of others.

But as for my own–what would you call them?  Issues? Disappointments?   I have yet to find one that effort couldn’t mold into success.

That type of attitude could sound domineering to some people.

I prefer the term agentic.  It’s empowering to believe that your life’s achievements rest in your own hands.  Quite honestly, I wish more people would realize this.

Not to belabor the point, but haven’t you ever encountered something within yourself that was entirely out of your control? 

As long as our mind is intact, we each have the capacity to overcome our inadequacies.

So what would you tell someone who struggles with negative beliefs about themselves–who feels immobilized by self-doubt? 

I’d tell them to get over it and get to work–or get out of the way and let someone do it for them.