“Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?” Alfred Lord Tennyson
~Years ago, a dream I had on New Year’s Eve–a highly propitious time for dreams–eventually evolved into ghostly Christmas romance Somewhere the Bells Ring. This was the second time a dream on that significant Eve led to a story. Historical romance novel Red Bird’s Song is the first book resulting from this powerful source of inspiration. So profound was the impact of that dream, it compelled me to make the leap from writing nonfiction pieces about country life to historical romance novels.
The dream that inspired Somewhere the Bells Ring took place in the beautiful Virginia home place where my father grew up and I often visited over the years, a gracious Georgian style brick home, circa 1816. As if I were watching a movie, I saw a young lady dressed in a long gown for a holiday party enter the room without a name. All the rooms in this big old house have names except for this one. Instead of the room appearing as it did in my day, it had transformed into an old-fashioned gentleman’s bedchamber with a fireplace, bookshelves lined with leather-bound volumes, high-backed armchairs, and an antiquated bed. I later learned from my father that this is much how that room used to be in his grandfather’s time. But I didn’t know that.
In the room, slumped on his knees before the crackling hearth, was a handsome dark-haired young gentleman attired in a suit that struck me as early 20th century style, but what impressed me most about him was his sadness. The young woman, a guest in the house and in far better spirits than he, had unwittingly intruded on his grief. In her hands she held a dusty champagne bottle with a note affixed to it, seemingly left for him by his late wife.
The newcomer said she’d discovered it tucked among wine bottles in the cellar and thought it might cheer him. It didn’t—at least, not at first. But he read the note and took some comfort from it. If I tell you what was written on that slip of paper I might spoil the story so I won’t. But his deep grief, the note, and vividness of this dream, had such an impact on me that I pondered what story might come of it for years before writing Somewhere the Bells Ring.
New Year’s Eve is soon upon us. Maybe I will come up with another story….