Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Conversation with Mary Crockett, Co-Author of DREAM BOY

Mary Crockett, Co-Author of DREAM BOY

Hi Mary! I'm so glad to have you stop by the blog to talk about Dream Boy. I have incredibly vivid dreams so your premise of dream boy walking into life (or is it alternate reality) is kind of plausible to me. So tell me, are you a big dreamer? 
Goodreads Link
I am a huge dreamer. That part of my life has always seemed so vivid that the premiss of a dream boy becoming real isn't such a stretch for me. There were times when, like the book's narrator, my dream world seemed almost more real than my waking life.

Maybe it's the writer in me that makes me such a dreamer. Or maybe it's the dreamer in me that drives me to write. At any rate, they're connected. Both writing and dreaming tap into the subconscious. They speak the same language. I've often worked images or emotions from dreams into my writing. And sometimes I've found ideas from my writing appearing in my dreams. 

I think the tension between what's real and what's dream is really interesting. Dream Boy, for example, takes place today in a small town in southwest Virginia. Chilton has a fictional name, but it's a very real place--one that my coauthor Madelyn Rosenberg and I are both quite familiar with. 

Oh, wow, we're neighbors! I live pretty much due south of Bristol, TN over the border into North Carolina. Which is snug up next to southwestern Virginia. I love this area as setting so now I'm doubly excited for DREAM BOY. Does your book have a small town feel with all of its too close for comfort knowledge of each other?

Hey neighbor! My husband and I spent some of our honeymoon at the Breaks Park in Grundy--not too far from your area. (I always thought I should write a murder mystery called Honeymoon in Grundy. And if I knew anything about murder mysteries, maybe I would!)

In some ways Chilton is another character in the book. That small town sense of everyone being in everyone else's business is definitely at play in Dream Boy. I love all the details of small town rituals too--sporting events and homecoming dances and the way everyone knows whose dog it is running around loose and peeing on everyone's bushes.

Ha! So true. I've learned everyone is also distantly related to everyone else so you must never say a cross word about anyone, unless of course it's prefaced with "bless her heart."

Last week I had Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie on the blog talking about their co-authoring process. Can you tell my readers (and me!) a bit about the process you and Madelyn go through?

First, just want to say that I love Trisha and Lindsay and I can't wait for Creed!

When we started out, Madelyn had a general idea about the story arc, and we were open to seeing where that would take us. So we just dove in--no outline, no rules. 

I would write something and shoot it to her in an email. She would comb through what I'd written, making editions or tightening up language. She'd add some and send it back. Then I'd do the same. 

Sometimes one of us would get on a roll and add a huge chunk of pages. Other times, we'd just add a sentence or two. 

If we got caught up in a detail--knowing something needed to be added to flesh things out, but uncertain exactly what that detail needed to be--we'd put a couple of big capital X's and leave it for the other to fill in the blank. We'd also write notes as we went along, using different colors or all caps to set off our conversations from the actual text. Usually something like "JUST TRYING THIS OUT. NOT SURE ABOUT THE DIALOG." Or conversely, "DID YOU SERIOUSLY GIVE DANIEL A LIP STUD? ... NO! JUST NO." 

It was really neat to bring up an image or character as a sort of side-line thing and see Madelyn bring that character or image back in a meaningful way. 

We'd meet in person if we happened to be in the neighborhood or talk by phone to discuss some of the big-picture stuff--reshaping the arc, for example. And for revisions, we were on the phone for hours at a time--combing through everything together, with one of us as notetaker (usually Madelyn because I often had my little son on my lap, which isn't ideal for typing). 

That is so fascinating! And funny about the lip stud. I can imagine that physical descriptions are so different in each of your imaginations. Or did you find imagery to help so that you were working off the same inspiration? Like actors or Pinterest boards to make sure you were on the same mental page?

That would have been so smart. Next time--if there is a next time--yes, we'll get our bums over to Pinterest first thing! 

Ironically, we do have a Dream Boy Pinterest page now ( ) but mainly it's stuff that comes to mind when we think of the book. 

As we wrote, we were both much more concerned with the inner than the outer character, so we didn't go overboard on physical descriptions. I always appreciate Jane Austen's trick of focusing on a prominent feature or two (Elizabeth Bennet's "fine eyes," for example) and letting the readers fill in some of the blanks on their own. 

It turns out, though, that both Madelyn and I had pretty much the same look in mind for most of the characters anyway. After we had completed the first draft, Mad sent me a jpeg of a guy she thought captured Will, and sure enough, it was exactly what I'd been imagining. 

A few characters did morph a bit along the way. I kept seeing one of the friends with long dark braids (a bit like Madelyn's hair), but Madelyn saw her with something shorter and edgier. Another character's hair kept changing from blond to light brown. I can't blame that on coauthoring, though; I'm pretty sure I was the only one who kept changing his hair. I think I was just trying to see beyond what I'd originally thought about him, and for some reason in my mind, that process had a strange affect on his hair.

Very cool. And sounds like a lot of fun. I have a good critique partner who's writing style is close enough to mine who might be able to pull it off, but we might end up with something pretty twisted, too. Hah!

Anyway, this brings our chat to a close, but three quick last questions. Tell us, the next three books on your TBR pile, the liquid in your cup, and what's playing on repeat? And thanks so much for telling us about Dream Boy, I look forward to its release!

Thanks, it's been fun! Let's see...Next on my book list -- CLOG! by my friend Dan Smith, Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos, and The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. 

Earl Grey is in my cup, unless I'm getting a migraine, in which case I medicate with a big cup of coffee and way too much sugar and milk. 

And I just checked iTunes for my most played song, and it was--(dramatic pause)--"Old MacDonald" from the album Barnyard Bluegrass, with a grand total of 124 plays. Perhaps that's best explained by the fact that my toddler has an unnatural obsession with Old MacDonald and for a while he wouldn't take a nap without it on replay. 

But below all the Old MacDonald and Sleepy Time Music Mixes, it's a three-way tie among Ed Sheeran's "Grade 8" (for peppy house-cleaning me), Regina Spektor's "Small Town Moon" (for contemplative car-driving me) and Levi Lowrey's "Space Between" (for poetic curl-up-and-cry me).

Thanks, again, Jro. I can't wait to read your No Place to Fall!

Thanks to you too, Mary! And next week stop in when I'll be chatting with Sarah Guillory, author of RECLAIMED.


  1. I also have vivid dreams - sometimes fun, sometimes very confusing first thing in the morning.

    I can't resist a book set in my home state :)

  2. I'm always a little jealous of people who have vivid dreams. I almost never do, and most of the time I don't remember my dreams. (Though last night, oddly enough, I broke my sister out of prison...go figure, haha!) I love that this story has roots in dreams though, and the cover is fantastic! Best of luck, Mary and Madelyn!

  3. Very interesting to hear about co-authors' process. Thank you both. :)


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