Because of my positive experience during the #JustWritePH workshop, I joined another writing workshop—#StrangeLit, and as the name suggests, the challenge was to write a paranormal/supernatural story in 30 days. Again, the reward for a completed manuscript is online publication. I love this genre personally, so I knew I was going to be able to write the hell out of it.
But first, I needed a story.
In the beginning, I just had a sixteen-year-old girl who can tell if someone was about to die. The protagonist was obviously inspired by my almost-sixteen-year-old daughter. Then I wanted it to be a romance, so I needed a guy, a nineteen-year-old boy who was about to die. The near-death is what makes them meet. Then everything evolved when I started writing the back stories. The story took on a life of its own and it surprised me.
The final blurb goes something like this:
Welcome to Barrio Malaya, a rustic town where Life and Death meet. It is one of the stops of a high-speed train system, which the dying board to go to their next destination.
In her dreams, sixteen-year-old Olivia “Liv” Roxas has unlimited access to Barrio Malaya. She first visited the place as a child with her father when they met an accident. They explored the town and rode the train together, but at some point, they got separated. She woke up to a reality without her father, and with an emotionally distant alcoholic mother who sheltered her from the outside world.
Nineteen-year-old Gabriel “Gab” Sahagun first came to Barrio Malaya when he was twelve years old. Victims of a freak accident, he and his parents already had their tickets to ride the train, but at the last minute, a faceless stranger pulled him back. He woke up in the real world, discovering he was an orphan with a new unusual talent—the ability to transfer Death using his body as a medium.
Liv and Gab meet and fall in love in Barrio Malaya, even though they have never met in real life. But that is about to change, because Gab has acquired a terminal condition that he can’t transfer. As he lies dying in the real world, it is up to Liv to find him, find a person to transfer the condition to, and get that person to Gab before he dies.
Did we mention that Liv has never set out from her house alone in all her life?
It still amazes me how a story is conceptualized and how it reaches fruition in my brain. Sometimes I just watch it being written. I discussed the concept and the development with my daughter and she gave me useful feedback. So, Barrio Malaya was born and it became more than just a way station for the dying. It even became the haven of people who are not completely in touch with reality. And this I wrote in to dedicate to all the people who love someone who may live in their own world.
I normally write myself into every story and for this one, I am the alcoholic, work-from-home IT consultant mom of Liv who is emotionally distant and who nearly drowns herself in the bathtub one time during a drunken period, while 90’s Seattle grunge music plays in the background. Cool, huh?
The launch of the stories happened near Halloween, so it was very timely. The launch itself was an experience—being around fellow authors and readers. We did readings of excerpts from our stories and it was just so fun!
I got some very encouraging reviews from other people who have read it, so I must have done something right.
I have a book two in mind and I’m sure people hope it would be the logical continuation of Liv and Gab’s story in book one. But I think, maybe, not really . . . but who knows, it will evolve as I write it. What I am sure is that Tomas will play a key role in book two. Why? Ahhh . . . he’s Tom Hiddleston!
In My Dreams is available on Amazon in Kindle format. It is also available on Buqo in ebook format. For the paperback, it is available in @Uniqubeph (at the 3rd floor University Mall, beside Vito Cruz LRT near DLSU) or through the author, that’s me. You can order using this form. Or you can drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries and orders.