First Mate Keira: The Dreamosphere came from one of your tween journals. Do you remember what first gave you the inspiration for the story? Can you share a picture of the page?
Laura Stoddard: I am notorious for my dreams. They are beyond anything you could possibly imagine. Bizarre and ridiculous to the extreme. I wake up so many times going, “Where did that come from?” I’ve been sharing my dreams with people all my life, and finally enough of them said, “You’ve got to put these into a story” that I did!
Here are some pictures from a high school dream journal of mine:
First Mate Keira: Do you keep a dream journal like Gwen? Is that how you remember your dreams so well?
Laura: I’ve kept dream journals off and on throughout my life. I just recently found one from college, and laughed to tears as I read through some of the dreams. I find it interesting that every time I read back over a dream, I immediately remember and feel the exact emotions I felt in the dream. Whether it was 20 years ago or last week. My dreams are so visceral and real. I’m also blessed (or cursed), in that I remember all my dreams. They stay with me as vividly as what I did the day before.
First Mate Keira: I love the book cover for The Dreamosphere! I bet you are thrilled. Did you have any influence in the art?
Laura: I only had a little bit of input as far as the cover design was concerned. When it was first presented to me I was thrown for a loop, and not all together happy. I’d been envisioning something edgier and darker. Probably to compete with the covers of the plethora of dystopian YA novels out there. But then I realized that my book is targeted toward tweens, and if I was an 11-year-old girl, the cover would absolutely draw me in. This isn’t an end-of-the-world story. There’s danger and intrigue to be sure, but it’s also a story of redemption, friendship, and learning to love and forgive oneself. The things I had them change on the cover were: making the girl blonde instead of brunette, adding the journal by her arm, putting fireflies in (they play a special part in the story), and adding the ominous, discrete web in the background. I am now in love with this cover. It’s quite dreamy…. See what I did there?
First Mate Keira: Now one of the things I like best about dreams, especially the strange ones, is that they disappear, but you’ve taken the reverse of that and turned it into a universe. What inspired that?
Laura: I think I was inspired to do that because, unlike the majority of people, I don’t forget my dreams. I mean, I remember all of them. Keeping them in dream journals helps. The idea of Gwen being able to go back and visit certain dreams developed because that’s something I’d love to do. I have dreamed some amazing, funny, exhilarating situations, that I wouldn’t mind experiencing again. However, you’re right. When it comes to the strange dreams, especially the frightening or dark ones, I would prefer to forget them. Just the other night I had a dream that a friend died, and in the dream I just sobbed and sobbed. I actually cried myself awake, and felt the heartbreak I felt in the dream for a couple days—even though he was actually fine. I’d experienced what it would be like if he passed. Those dreams I can do without.
First Mate Keira: How does one get to The Dreamosphere? Must one be asleep? Is it a mental journey or a physical one?
Laura: The premise in the story is that you need to “hover” to travel into the Dreamosphere. Everyone’s experienced that. The moment when you’ve just barely dozed off and aren’t quite sure if you’re awake or asleep; I call that hovering in the book. When you go into “hover mode”, a thought strand seeps down from the Dreamosphere (from your subconscious), but because you’re half awake, you can see it physically. You have to grab onto the thought strand, and it pulls you (or the subconscious you) up into the Dreamosphere. Gwen can only stay in the Dreamosphere as long as her waking body is sleeping. When she starts to wake up, she has to exit the Dreamosphere quickly (which is also done in a certain way). Confusing enough for you? J
First Mate Keira: Can you view the someone else’s dreams? Share a dream at the same time?
Laura: In the story, Gwen does visit other people’s Dream-webs, but only briefly. It is necessary for her to search the dreams of other people while she’s desperately looking for a specific person. Hmm…the idea of sharing a dream is intriguing. It doesn’t happen in this book, but maybe in the next…?
First Mate Keira: There’s also an interesting villain that likes to destroy her dreams… does this villain destroy just hers or other people’s dreams too? What makes Gwen’s dreams desirable to “hack”?
Laura: Ahh…that’d give away too much of the story. There is a reason that he targets Gwen, but she doesn’t figure that out till the end. I’m not giving it away!
First Mate Keira: Does Gwen have any special powers in The Dreamosphere?
Laura: Well, there are no rules in the Dreamosphere, as far as reality is concerned. She can fly, shapeshift, sit on clouds, slide down rainbows…anything she wants.
First Mate Keira: What is your favorite sequence in the story?
Laura: One of my favorites is a very pivotal scene that happens very early on in the book, when Gwen learns all about, and visits, the Dreamosphere for the first time. For this sequence, I was actually inspired by the movie The Matrix. I love how everything is black and white in that story, even though it’s confusing as heck. At the very beginning, the main character is sat down and told exactly what he’s been pulled into. His mission is made clear to him, with some added twists throughout of course, but I love how the conflict is explained, the mission assigned and the rest, just an adventure to put everything right. That’s how I laid out this story. I hate it when I’ve read 100 pages of a book and still don’t know what the plot is. I wanted to pull readers in right away.
First Mate Keira: What are you doing next?
Laura: I plan to focus on my book tour, mostly throughout Arizona, but to other states as well. Then I need to start thinking about the second book! Because there will be a second one…
What if dreams don’t disappear when we wake up? Haunted by her younger sister’s death, and her unwitting role in the incident, 11-year-old Gwenevere Stoker takes solace in the Dreamosphere—a dimension where all dreams still exist. But when someone begins destroying her dreams, Gwen must find the culprit—or risk losing all her happiness forever. Bask in the mystery and imagination of dreams in this touching, funny, mind-bending children’s tale that encompasses themes of grief, friendship, family, healing, and grand adventure!
“What do you think happens to your dreams after you wake up?”
Gwen shrugged distractedly, too disoriented by her sudden arrival in the remarkable setting to focus. “I dunno. They disappear?”
The unblinking gray eyes of her young companion flashed as she leaned forward. “Incorrect. Every dream you’ve ever had still exists. All of them. They reside in a dimension called the Dreamosphere. It’s where we are right now, as a matter of fact. Each dream basically exists as its own world, or dream-orb. There are thousands and thousands of them, connected like drops of dew on a gigantic spider web. Every dream you’ve ever had, Gwen. They’re all up here. And you can visit them any time you want.”
Tabitha, the enigmatic child who shares this information, has some even more shocking news. Gwen’s dreamosphere is in danger. Someone has been hacking into it—destroying her dream orbs, erasing pieces of her past, and affecting Gwen in more ways than she realizes. Together, Gwen and Tabitha travel through the outlandish landscape of Gwen’s dream worlds to find the person responsible. What will happen to Gwen when all her dreams are gone? What critical clues lie within the pages of her dream journal? And what does Edgar Allan Poe have to do with it all?
Author Bio: Laura Stoddard was born in Idaho and spent her formative years running amok in the great outdoors. She received her bachelors degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. After being rejected from the masters program for creative writing she decided that she didn’t need a masters degree to tell her she could write, so she started really dedicating her time to finishing the story she’d started months earlier, with the goal of writing a complete novel, and getting it published. The result is her debut novel, The Dreamosphere, for which her own vivid, bizarre, and incomprehensible dreams provided the inspiration. Laura is an adrenaline junkie and will try anything once–or twice–or maybe three times. She can already check whitewater rafting, going down in a shark cage, and skydiving (three times) off of her list. Oh, and getting Lasik. It was five minutes of terror. She enjoys hiking, rowing, reading classic literature, embarking on new adventures and hobbies, volunteering regularly, and spending time with family. She currently resides in Phoenix, Ariz.