Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dreams and More: visions of flight and my next book

I dream a lot. But never nightmares, or the weird creatures those who know me might imagine me dreaming of. Usually I am searching for something, sometimes I see quizzical things I spend the whole night pondering, often I am flying. While I don't recall being frightened in any of the dreams, I am often nervous, especially around power lines because I usually am not so good at controlling my flight. Often I forget how to gain altitude, or how to turn to avoid something, but I always end up landing in one piece with my heart hammering in my chest.

Last night was a particularly interesting flying dream. I was in an ejection seat rocketing up through clouds. The upward propulsion was long and went very high, much higher than physics would allow a normal ejection seat to go, especially since the flight didn't originate in a jet or even in the air. I propelled past a cluster of skydivers afraid I would collide with them. Moving in the multi-directional space of sky is very different from terrestrial motion. There are a lot more dangers you cannot see, coming from all directions. Luckily, or by divine providence, after a couple of close calls where the skydivers noticed me just in time, I missed  all of them.

Ascending through a higher layer of cloud, I began to slow and suddenly realized I had no seatbelt on. I tried to buckle it but when I let go of the seat it started to tip. That was scary, because now I was  many thousands of feet in the sky. So high that ice crystals made sections of the clouds solid. Coming to rest on a bit of that solidly frozen cloud I encountered a group of four teenagers, who were discussing the coolest way to play music as they moved through the sky, live music that is, there was a grand piano nearby they were going to use on the way down. We chatted for a moment, then I realized it was time for me to get back to earth. I scooted off the ice and started my descent. It was fairly controlled and there was a lot of cloud, more than the journey up had encountered. I knew I was miles in the sky and therefore did not want to open my chute till I could see the ground. I broke the bottom layer of cloud and found myself much closer than I anticipated. Yanking the chute cord I slowed, but did not land for quite a while, instead flying around two or three stories above ground, trying to figure out where I was.

Then I saw a sign. I had landed in Hyde Park, London. Long flight, having taken off from Anchorage Alaska.

I still haven't figured out this dream's meaning, if any, but it really has me thinking.

This brings me to one that I had a long time ago, 1989 if I remember correctly.

Over twenty years ago I had a dream that I knew I would have to one day turn into a novel. It involved a king of a group of five northern Chinese cities called Kwai Ler Wang Guo, or the Happy Kingdom. In the dream the king and his people lose a war and king, not willing for his people to be massacred by  the aggressive invaders, flees China with them escaping to Goryeo (medieval  Korea). There they build a city hidden inside a ring of mountains where no one would find them.

The next morning I told my wife about it. As I related the story she stared wide eyed. I asked what was the matter and she told me that parts of the dream sounded like fragments of her own family history. We had only been married about a year at the time and she, not being a history buff, had never told me the family history.

As it turns out, her family name 'Ma' is not a Korean name (my wife is Korean). It is the Chinese word for Horse. It is a name that signifies either royalty or warrior class. Her father had a copy of the family geneology book, presently sitting in the gun safe at my home, that goes back over a thousand years. It includes the names of all of the sons born to her branch of the Ma family over that period of time.  This book of course is not the original, which miraculously survived all those years, including the Japanese occupation and Korean War.  It is a facsimile, a complete replica faithfully copied and maintained exactly as the original in the event of the loss of that original.

The fact that they had this book is meaningful, not too many people in that part of the world were literate until the latter half of this century. The part that really intrigues me though is the earliest segment of the book. It is a journal of some type. Only a portion of it has been translated, because while it is written in Chinese characters, the language is significantly different and according to my father in law no one, even at Seoul University, had been able to completely decipher it. Best they can tell, it is the language of a kingdom that no longer exists. The writer they said was most likely a general or a prince. The kingdom was eradicated some time around the rise of the Mongol empire, apparently wiped off the map without a trace. This was a common form of conquest by the way, which is why archaeologists have such a hard time verifying ancient things. Conquerors would destroy all traces of the prior inhabitants and rewrite history.

At any rate, this book and its writer ended up in Korea sometime around the 11th century. My wife said that her grandfather had on one occasion taken her to her ancestral home in the central part of South Korea in the mid-seventies. She said they rode a bus for a long way, several hours on dusty roads. The bus stopped in the middle of nowhere and they got off.

Surrounded by rice paddies and forest ten year old Mikyong said, “Grandpa where's the village?”

“We have to walk from here,” he pointed to a cluster of vertical peaks a couple miles in the distance, “to those mountains.”

It took over two more hours to get there. When they arrived she was stunned. Inside this ring of mountains was a whole city, housing a few thousand residents. As they pass clusters of houses she noticed the mail boxes in front of each one. A disproportionate amount all had the same name imprinted on the box, a name not very common in Korea.


She met distant cousins and relatives and learned that during the Korean War the entire area had not heard a single shot. They had barely even known the war had occurred. While the slaughter had engulfed the entire Korean peninsula it had bypassed them entirely. Her grandfather had left the town to study medicine during the Japanese occupation and ended up pressed into service as a diplomat to Japan during that time. He married outside the clan otherwise she would likely have been born there too (if at all).

After the dream and her story I knew right away that I would have to write that into a novel, but at that time as a twenty-something with bigger fish to fry (like becoming a millionaire restaurateur by age thirty) had no clue how to write a novel, nor the time and energy to do it. Now on the other hand, with my kids nearly grown, and youthful ambition realityified (yeah I made that word up) the story is finally in the queue, and God willing after I have finished my current WIP (Cold Summer due this summer) the new one will be up next with both an adult and a YA storyline.

Working title for my first Historical Fiction: Blood of Princes.

Due out...when I get it done.
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  1. That sounds like a facinating premise for a novel.

  2. I think it will be keeping me busy for the year or so for sure.