The Really Big Idea: Shay Fabbro
I don’t typically dream in color. On the infrequent occasions that I remember dreams at all, I have to make do with more pedestrian B&W. There’s no question though, that dreams have been the motivation for many things. Shay Fabbro has a few things to say about how one particularly vivid dream led to writing.
I Had a Dream
I’m sure I’m not the first author to say this nor will I be the last. The idea for the Portals of Destiny series came from a dream I had while I was still in graduate school (I hold a PhD in human medical genetics). I have suffered from night terrors since I was a child. This particular dream I had was extremely vivid. We’re talking sounds, colors, smells.
In my dream, a man covered head to toe in sweat-stained robes is leading a camel through a desert. No green in sight, just a brown mess of sand and rock. Suddenly, the camel starts to tug at the rope, refusing to move forward. The annoyed man tries to force the camel, and of course as anyone knows who’s ever tried to force a camel to anything they don’t want to do…well, you get the point.
The ground begins to vibrate under the man’s feet and the camel goes ballistic at this point: snorting and pawing the air, finally ripping the rope out of the man’s hand. The man sees a large thing coming his way, with strange red and blue lights flashing, and it’s bigger than anything he’s ever seen. As it moves closer, the noise from its engines begins to become very painful. The ground shakes so badly the man can’t keep his footing. The machine begins to descend, unfurling its legs as it gets lower. The man’s eardrums rupture from the deafening roar of the engines. The last thing he sees is the enormous leg just before it crushes the life out of him.
As you can well imagine, I couldn’t stop thinking about this dream. Who was the guy and what in the world were the gigantic machines? Were they like transformers? Something different? My head reeled from all of the questions. Of course, there were no answers.
Except what I made up in my own mind.
The more questions I answered, the bigger this “dream” became. I talked to a friend of mine who worked in another lab and told her about it over lunch. She thought I should write the stuff down, see where it led me. The idea seemed ludicrous at the time. I mean, I was a research scientist, what the heck did I know about writing a novel?
Suffice to say, I did what she suggested. Before I knew it, I had the glimmer of an idea, something that was different, maybe a little overwhelming, but filled with promise. I embarked on a journey to create a series that was a blend of both scifi and fantasy. Think “Star Wars meets Stargate” and you’ll have an inkling what I mean. I wanted to blend technology, weapons and cool gadgets with prophecy and magic. What I ended up with was a book with twenty-two Chosen (prophecy says only they can destroy the Mekans), four Guardians (one for each planet to guide and protect the Chosen), and one fleet of mechanical beings called the Mekans, who roam the galaxy strip mining planets until they are completely destroyed.
Sound exciting or what?
Well, as I started writing the plot idea, I realized that what I had was much bigger than a single novel could contain. And thus the Portals of Destiny trilogy was born. The biggest part of this whole endeavor was creating the four planets that were home to the Chosen as well as the fifth planet that was home to the Guardians. I had to create five unique alien races and worlds, most of which had to be different from Earth. And on top of that, I had to give unique personalities and voices to all of the Chosen. I spent about eight months or so just designing my planets and the races that would inhabit them. I gave them cultures, histories, drew maps of the world, the villages and towns, and drew rudimentary drawings of the races themselves. My artist did a much better job and you can see his work on my website on the Artwork page. I had to really make sure I had each and every detail about my characters and their planets written down so I could refer back to it. It’s difficult, at least at the beginning, to keep them all straight.
The dream sequence that started it all actually ended up in the second book of the series, Shattered Destiny. I knew before I wrote a single sentence of the book that the cover would have to be the desert scene. My artist certainly didn’t disappoint!