And oh yes - here was the key part. In the dream, I specifically saw that the princess had been abandoned by her groom on her wedding day.
And I think that's why it stuck with me. You see, I'm a great sleeper. It's one of the top-three things that I excel at. Caffeine does not affect me, noise, lights, nothing stops me from sleeping pretty much anytime I want to (except planes because ugh.) Because I'm so awesome at sleeping, I also rock at dreaming. Almost every night I have lucid dreams but I let 99% of them go in the morning.
This one? Wouldn't let me go.
The emotions of a princess, suddenly not knowing who she is, or what she was meant for, were what caused me to grab that paper and pen and capture the idea.
But it's a crazy idea, right? How do I write a story about a princess of a make-believe country? Even though I'm a writer, I'm a pretty down to earth, practical person. I put my electric purple thigh-high stiletto boots on, one leg at a time, like the rest of you.
Just kidding. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I run car pool, have a garden, go for walks. I'm not nearly as exciting as a glamorous European princess sneaking out of her palace.
But I went ahead wrote the first chapter. I do this sometimes, when I have a new idea that won't let me go. It's a form of bargaining. "Okay, FINE. I'll let you off the leash for 500 words but that's it. After that, we're going to switch back over to our normal, boring book."
Ah ha. You see the problem there, don't you?
Who wants to write a normal, boring book?
Who wants to read one, for that matter?
Maybe that was why the dream wouldn't let me go. And maybe because it all started with a dream, THE ROYAL RUNAWAY came out all backwards and forwards. Blips of it here, strings had to be pulled there. The characters popped up like a a literary game of whack-a -mole. HERE! was the Queen. THERE! Was the sexy Scottish spy. QUICK! LOOK! A psychic hacker? Um, okay, subconscious. You're full-on nutso now.
So I went ALL IN. Fine. This insanity wants to unfurl? I want to make up a whole new country, with a whole new geography and hundreds of years of history? Sure. Why not. Clearly, I need a hobby.
Still I wondered: WHY was it happening like this? WHO would ever want to read it? Oh, an author gets so caught up in questions like that. Even now, when there are literal printed copies of this book going out to reviewers, I'm still not sure that I did it right.
Or that I can do it again? Yes, that's always the next problem, isn't it? I went along for the madness that my subconscious dreamed up. But...
What if... what if my sleepy brain now has a huge ego and now thinks that it can come up with random, nonsensical story ideas in the future and hijack all my logical, reasonable (read: boring) book ideas and force me to do its diabolical will?
More importantly... what if it doesn't?