For now, we turn over BookLovers Paradise to Jeanne Lyet Gassman, author of BLOOD OF STONE. Take it away Jeanne....
It Began With a Dream
By Jeanne Lyet Gassman
Guest Blog Post for Book Lovers Paradise
When people ask me about my debut historical novel, Blood of a Stone, one of the first questions they pose is: "Where did you get the idea for this book?"
The answer: "From a dream." Well, to be fair, the idea originated from a dream my husband had. In our family, my husband is renowned for his vivid, interesting dreams, and he likes to share them with me over breakfast. The story of Blood of a Stone was born in just this way.
My husband told me he had dreamed he was working on the set of a movie directed by Kirk Douglas. I was fixing toast and searching for the margarine, so my attention was not entirely focused on his story, but then he said, "The movie was about a man plotting to assassinate Jesus Christ."
"What?" I said, as I closed the refrigerator and turned to listen more closely. "What did you say?" But before he could answer, I took off with the idea. "That would make a great book. What if the main character wasn't Jewish or Roman but an outsider to the culture? Where would he come from? Why would he want to kill Jesus? What kind of trouble would he be in? What if..." The ideas came spinning forth. Abandoning breakfast, I ducked into my home office.
"Wait," my husband called. "I never told you what happened in my dream."
"It doesn't matter. I already know."
For the past year, I had been flailing with my first novel, a family drama about a prodigal son returning home to help out with the family business. It doesn't sound so original now, but I thought I had a good story at the time, and I had even come close to finding a publisher when an editor asked to see the opening chapters before the book was finished. But I was unable to complete the book on the editor's deadline and so, the book languished, leaving me to wonder if I could write a novel at all--until my husband had a dream.
I locked myself in my office. The words poured out of me. When I finally came up for air, I had written 65 pages in four days, and I still had much more to say. I knew this character. I knew what he looked like, what he wanted, what he feared, and I could imagine him in this place called first century Palestine. There was only one problem. I had done no research. My knowledge of this time and place was limited to Sunday school lessons.
For the next year, I buried myself in the research while the story waited for me. I visited museums and libraries, bought books and resource materials, called total strangers at universities, zoos, and botanical gardens to ask questions about the lifestyle, the flora, and the fauna. Most people were so flattered to be asked about their specialties that they gave unexpected and wonderful details. One botanist even tasted the leaves of a particular plant so I could describe its taste in my book. As I continued my research, I became my own kind of expert about the odd and exotic. I can tell you exactly what to look for when buying a camel, and I know the proper rituals for a haruspication, which is the reading of an animal liver to predict the future. Eventually, I returned to writing the book.
But life gets in the way. With two small children under the age of three, my writing time was scarce. I added a chapter here and there to the book when I could and wrote a lot of short stories to keep me going.
My children were almost grown when I returned to school to complete an MFA in Writing. And that book? I planned to write another chapter or two or three during the program, but my advisor had other ideas. No more dabbling, no excuses. I had to finish the book. I wrote the entire novel during one semester, typing the magic words, THE END, on Thanksgiving Day while my loving family prepared the holiday dinner. I revised the book the following semester and then began the arduous process of finding a publisher. Almost five years later, Blood of a Stone was released by Tuscany Press, and I can honestly say it is a dream come true!
My husband had another good dream a couple of weeks ago. He was a little reluctant to talk about it, but I pried it out of him, and I know exactly what's going to happen. I just have to write it.