Welcome back to our read--entertainment for readers and insights for writers--of K.M. Weiland’s fantasy Dreamland. When last we left Chris Redston, our hero who crossed to the world of his dreams and unintentionally began the destruction of the dream world and our own, he had arrived at the capital of Lael where he was to be presented as the Gifted, savior of all, to the court.
To catch up or review previous parts of this read, click here.
Allara takes Chris to meet the family he had in Lael before he crossed the world, the one he no longer remembers. They are fishermen who also own a restaurant. The mother and sister he lost at age twelve in Chicago still live and thrive in the dream world. The father, who he is disgusted with from his alcoholism and tendency to end up in jail in Chicago, is strong, hard working, and full of respect and love in Lael. Chris can’t stay long with them, but even the brief time he has rocks him to the core. He can’t help but wonder, if he’d loved and forgiven his father long ago, if he might have turned into the great man he meets in Lael.
Reader Comments: Oh, this is heart wrenching. I wondered if Weiland would have Chris’s mother and sister alive in the dream world, but the way she played it all out was gut gripping. I feel so much for Chris here. To be given all he’d lost in the world he still remembers and, in so doing, to realize the extent of what he lost is just awful in a good way.
Writer Comments: Here, Weiland achieves multiple things at once, all of which seek to go straight to the reader’s heart. First, she tosses us into a whirlwind of sympathy for her hero and those who love him by dredging up deep emotions. Second, she gives Chris and, through him, us a dream come true. To get back loved ones we lost, there are few things more gripping than that. Don’t all of us wish to have loved ones back in our lives, to have relationships we lost? Third, she uses all this to bring Chris to a realization, a shift in character. If he had been different, might he have been able to have some of this paradise? He’s spent so many years blaming his father for the pain he carried, but perhaps, did he too play a role in creating and feeding that pain and the destruction of his father? It is a horrid but gripping burden. Make your chapters and scenes serve multiple purposes, and include the deeply emotional moments in a story.
Allara and the king of Lael formally present Chris as the Gifted to the nobles of Lael. It’s a ceremony full of easy to follow ritual for Chris, who has barely a grasp of how to handle himself. However, at the end, he’s required to give a speech. Unfortunately, his best efforts are far from exceptional, and the nobles think him incompetent. Allara, however, is furious that the nobles receive him so poorly. They are supposed to understand that the Gifted is not an expert when he crosses the worlds.
Reader Comments: Yay! It’s nice to see Allara furious on his behalf. She’s warming to him whether she likes it or not.
Writer Comments: There need to be points along the way of a story to show change in the characters. At the beginning, Allara was furious at Chris for bringing back Mactalde. Now, nearing the halfway point of the story, not only is she calling Chris a good man, as she expressed to his Lael family in the previous chapter, she’s defending his reputation and angry at others for not treating him well.
Back in Chicago, Chris is going stir crazy, hiding in his home and trying to avoid getting shot by the guy Mactalde hired to kill him. Tired of doing nothing, he goes out. When he returns, he spots a truck with his assassin sitting inside. He hightails it as swiftly as possible and gets ahold of Brooke, his roommate’s sister, for help. Brooke is an aspiring investigative reporter and has had a major crush on Chris since childhood. She makes him a deal, she’ll go to the police and leave Chris out of the whole story so that, hopefully, they can all remain safe, but in exchange, he must tell her what’s going on. He grudgingly gives her some information, and she drops him off at a hotel for the night. When he goes back to sleep and wakes in Lael, he receives word that the battle has begun.
Reader Comments: Poor Brooke! I get how she’s a bit too much for Chris to handle, but still. Telling her flat out that she has to get over her crush is just, well, harsh. But I have to give Chris some credit. Two worlds are plummeting toward destruction because of his mistake, and he’s got a guy out to kill him. His stress level has to be skyrocketing.
Writer Comments: Trust is the main theme of this chapter. In fact, trust is one of the big themes of the whole book. In this scene, Brooke and Chris actively go back and forth, challenging each other’s trust and, at the same time, demanding it. Too, Dreamlander explores the shattering and growing of trust between Allara and Chris, Chris and himself, and Allara and herself. Most of the time, a writer may have little idea what themes they’re writing into their book, and at first, it shouldn’t be a big concern. But it helps a great deal to identify themes somewhere along the editing process so that they can be strengthened and distilled.
Thank you for joining me today for these chapters of Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland. For the rest of this month, Dreamlander will be available free through Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review. Until next Monday, when we find out what happens with Chris and the battle, I’ll see you all on Friday for further forays into fiction, books, the speculative, and life.