Many thanks to Louise Aspinall of Bonfire Books for interviewing me about True Calling. It was fun!
Thanks to Chloe Shortall for her great review of #TrueCalling
True Calling is the debut novel from Irish author Siobhan Davis. The novel is set on Planet Novo, a planet created in the likeness of earth but far more technologically advanced. The people who live on Novo have been screened extensively to ensure that the new planet earth prospers. The only drawback to being chosen for this new planet is the fact that the government erased certain memories from the minds of the people.
For Ariana, this is the most confusing part of her new life. She can’t remember the people from her past who were left on earth, but at night she can see them in her dreams. Most specifically, she can see Zane.
When the government set up The Calling, a pageant set up to match up couples who would produce the most ideal offspring, Ariana has to decide between Cal, the boy she loves even though her…
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A few people have asked me how I came up with the idea for my novel, True Calling, so I thought I’d share my story with you.
It all started with a dream. Just not my own.
The funny thing about dreams is that they’re so obscure to the point of not being real that we tend to overlook them and the potential message they’re trying to deliver. Or at least I know that’s what I used to do. But I’ve had cause to think about dreams a lot lately and I truly wonder whether our dreams have the power to change our lives (and I’m not just speaking metaphorically).
I first got hooked on the Twilight series in November 2009. My sister-in-law, an avid YA reader, had been raving about the books for the best part of the previous year. And unless you lived under a rock or on a different planet there was no way of avoiding the phenomenon. The first Twilight movie had surfaced in 2008 and you couldn’t avoid Robert Pattinson or Kristen Stewart in the midst of such obsession, they were everywhere. I paid zero attention to the hype: Not interested, far too old for all that malarkey, vampires meh… Then I came into the sitting room one day and my eldest son was watching Twilight on Sky movies and I got instantly sucked in (excuse the pun). Therein was the start of my obsession with Twilight, which would later translate into an obsession with YA fiction and teen movies in general.
So, I hear you ask, what’s this got to do with dreams? I took to my obsession—as I do with everything else in my life—with total dedication and determination, and I had a hunger for all things Twilight. I wanted to find out everything about the series and the author, so I checked out Stephenie Meyer’s website and (we’re finally getting to the dream part) I watched an interview with her where she explained about the now infamous dream that started it all off. In case you’re one of those people who was living under a rock or on a different planet, she apparently had a dream one night of a vampire boy with sparkly skin and a human girl in a meadow. She was so transfixed by the dream that the next day she started writing a vampire-human love story and Twilight was borne. Or so the story goes. When I heard this, I was instantly intrigued.
Now I know that a lot of authors have said they were inspired by Stephenie Meyer—she’s a very inspirational woman—but I think the affect she had on me was slightly different.
I wondered a lot about her ‘meadow dream’; probably more than was normal to. Who sent her that dream? And why? And did someone (or something) plant that seed knowing full well that it would lead her on a path to a significant life-altering experience? And what are dreams anyway? A malfunction of our brain? An unconscious message from our inner selves? A medium for receiving messages from others? My thoughts jumbled around like this for weeks, and my idea started to grow from this silent analysis.
So I started writing my own story, and as I did, I thought more and more about the power of dreams. And was it the dream itself that fuelled the life-changing moment, or the actions of the person receiving the dream? How many of us have had dreams that we dismissed outright without a second thought? And what if those dreams had been given to us for a purpose, and we had failed to recognize and grasp that opportunity?
And as someone who didn’t actually often dream that much herself; I started paying more attention when I did. I began to keep a notebook and pen by my bed, and would fervently scribble in it when I woke up after a particularly vivid dream. Then there were other nights, where ideas for my book came thick and fast during the witching-hour. Now I wouldn’t call these incidents ‘dreams’ in the real sense of the word, but I repeatedly experienced ‘light-bulb’ moments as I drifted from a conscious to an unconscious state of mind.
That got me thinking about the creative mind and whether there is a connection between dreams and creativity? Why is it that when we quiet the brain there is often a tendency for a flurry of thoughts to swarm our mind?
So I did the next logical thing: I googled it, and discovered a whole world on the internet devoted to dreams, their meaning, common dream themes, how to decipher same. It was only then that I realized how big of a deal dreams are and how fascinated people are by them.
As I considered all of this, the ‘dream’ theme within my book became the pivotal force driving the development of my plot and characterization. And I’d love to tell you more, but I can’t, for fear of inadvertent spoiler alerts. It’s sufficient to say that the dreams in my novel, True Calling, are powerful and impactful, but they’re not always the sum of what they appear to be.
In my most-recent inner debate, I’ve thought about that other definition of dreams. The notion that dreams are aspirational and that if we are determined enough, and work hard enough, and possess the utmost self-confidence and self-belief, that we can turn those dreams into reality.
Then I realized that I had come full circle. And I thought wouldn’t it be amazing if my (non-literal) dream did come true. And all the more so because I have been writing about dreams, and it was musing about someone else’s dream that set me on that path. Only time will tell I guess!
Dreams are still a mystery, in every sense of the word.
So that’s the story of how I came to write the True Calling series! What about you? Have you ever had a really bizarre dream that set you on a particular path? Or have you ever had a dream that you ignored, and then wished you hadn’t? Or did someone else’s dream inspire you like it did me? I’d love to hear your dream stories!
By Felogene Anumo*
Last week I joined thousands of maternal and child health advocates at the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) Partners’ Forum in Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. The gathering and robust discussions breathed life into the African Proverb: It takes a village to raise a child by, providing linkages between child marriage and preventable maternal mortality. The various stakeholders present called for ambitious and transformative commitments in order to realize the potential to be the ‘village’ that ends early, forced and child marriages in one generation, as this majorly contributes to preventable newborn deaths and maternal mortality.
Until Death Do Us Apart: Facts and Figures
- One in three girls in the developing world will be married by their eighteenth birthday. This can end their chance of completing an education and puts them at greater risk of isolation and violence.
- One in seven girls in the…
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I read an article in the Daily Mail today that both shocked and saddened me. The story described how a 14-year-old Nigerian girl had poisoned her 35-year-old husband because she had been forced into marrying him.
It struck a chord with me—not just because forced marriage and motherhood is a key theme in my debut novel, True Calling—but because I still find it so hard to believe that this type of slavery exists in the modern world that we live in.
I realize now what a charmed childhood I had growing up in Ireland, and how sheltered I was from the ways of the wider world. Never in a million years could I have contemplated a world where kids are being forced to marry men old enough to be their dads. And how utterly traumatizing it must be to have your whole future already mapped out for you, when you are still in your formative years and only beginning to try to work out who you are and what you want out of life.
It would be easy to point the finger of blame at the culture that accepts this as normal, but society in general is to blame. How do our world leaders continue to allow the persecution and abuse of women, in such an open, blatant manner? Why isn’t there more focus and priority given to eradicating injustice and cruelty in our world? Why isn’t there more support given to the U.N. and other organizations who try so hard to right the wrongs, and influence positive change.
As I rant at unfairness of the world we live in, a world that has failed this young girl, I understand that this is just one tiny example which illustrates the deplorable conditions that so many people are forced to endure; there is a litany of other stories on a daily basis which speak to the cruelty of our world. And I know that people empathize, and try to help in whatever way they can. But it’s not enough. We need to do more.
The recent kidnapping of all those young girls in Nigeria made headlines around the world, and people took to their social media accounts in their droves to help spread awareness. But it’s several months later, and what of those girls? What has actually been done to rescue them, to reunite them with their families? I’m sure there are countless political interventions taking place in the background, but will it achieve anything? And if they are successfully returned home, is it forced marriage that awaits them too? What does it say about the world that we can all be so outraged one minute, and then apparently forget about it the next?
That this young girl chose to fight back is only surprising in the fact that it appears to be so uncommon. How desperate she must have felt to have decided to poison her new husband; to feel that it was her only way out. And what lies in wait for this child that society has abandoned? Life-imprisonment? Or is death inevitable? Irrespective of the chosen punishment, what is abundantly clear is that her whole life has been taken from her overnight. She is another casualty of this world.
I’m a big fan of young adult fiction and I have read tons of dystopian stories over the last few years. Many of these books talk of corrupt, controlling regimes and people that turn on each other and kill needlessly (sure my own novel has some similar themes) but the unpleasant truth of the situation is that we don’t need to dream up these worlds, because so much of it makes up the reality that we live in today. And that is a very disturbing thought.