Only once have I used my actual nighttime dreams as an inspiration for my writing. A few years ago we adopted a border collie/Australian shepherd mix puppy that we named Took. He was a mischievous, fuzzy little guy with an oddly curled tail and a number of curious habits. Not only did Took watch television (and I do mean watch—he growled at villains and suspenseful music, got excited by wolves howling and horses running, and whimpered if women or children wept) but he also seemed to have certain cat-like traits. He licked his paws to wash his face, stretched in a very un-doglike way, and had that decidedly feline manner of batting with his paw at toys, people, and flies.
A couple of weeks after Took joined our family, I fell asleep on the couch watching a James Bond movie—I believe it was “The Man with the Golden Gun”–and proceeded to dream about an everyday working dog who had a secret life as a spy….cat. Yes, an international cat spy who was actually a dog.
Crazy? Maybe…no, wait—definitley! But, crazy or not, when I woke up I was so inspired with the idea that I began a new project—Spy Cat! I loved writing it. I felt alive and full of fire! It fairly flew from my mind to my fingers. Within a couple of months I had a complete project. I see it as a kind of illustrated chapter book for the middle grade reader—a new kind of graphic novel.
It’s in a drawer now—my agent is working on selling a couple of other projects first. I read it over once in a while—it still makes my heart pound and my laughter burst out uncontrollably.
Thinking about it now makes me hope for some new dream tonight. Took is still here—still the smartest, oddest animal I’ve ever owned, and I’ve been watching the Food Network quite a bit lately….what about a picture book about a vegetarian dog who wants his own cooking show????