Interview with Sarah Dieng (author of Deadly Dreams – A Death Walker Novel)
Interviewed by: Mary Pruitt
What made you want to become a writer and why?
I have always loved to read and writing always came easy to me. Having a very vivid imagination helped too. It seems that my imagination decided to become written form. I always have a story lingering in my brain. Most are half formed, or there are a few sentences of dialogue. Some are even long stories based on something I have seen, read or heard. Around 20 years ago, and that sounds like a long time to me, I tried to get a short story I wrote printed. Of course I was turned down. Back then I didn’t know much about writing other than that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a journalist and for awhile I did do that too. I had an English teacher tell me that I articulated better in writing than actually verbalizing. That kind of sounds like criticism, but I took it as a compliment because I know I am not good at public speaking. In High School I always excelled in writing so I took that as a hint of what I needed to focus on.
It’s the popular thing now. I only started reading it myself a couple of years ago. I realized that YA fiction was just as good as and sometimes better than adult fiction.
How hard was it to write a YA novel?
Being an adult it’s sometimes hard to relate with teens today. It’s been so long since I was one and back then things were so much different than they are now. Reading YA novels has helped some. I am used to writing adult fiction so toning down that insight wasn’t all that hard.
Is this a series?
Yes, there will be four books all together.
How did the idea for Deadly Dreams come about?
To tell you the truth I don’t entirely remember, but I think it started with the idea of the first dream sequence and then the sentence that Danielle thinks, “It’s always disconcerting when I actually wake up after one and realize I am still alive.” Sometimes my ideas for a book start with just one sentence that pops up in my mind, one that I have to write down immediately before I forget it.
Describe the characters in Deadly Dreams?
Danielle and Mitch are both fifteen years old and are orphans that live in a state orphanage with a house mother and five other kids. They are the main characters.The “twins” as Danielle calls them are Goth teenage girls and there are also three other boys. Danielle and Mitch are both juniors in high school only because they both skipped a grade because they were advanced in their learning. Danielle is the one that has the nightmares of darkness and death and Mitch is her best friend and protector.
Without giving too much away, can you tell me a little bit about it?
Danielle has nightmares and has had them since she was really young. The nightmares show her death and darkness and the older she gets the closer she comes to getting sucked into them. Also the older she gets the more she sees and learns and once she figures it out she is seriously tested. Mitch is her best friend and protector and helps her in her quest to find out why she is having them and can they stop whatever is coming before it’s too late.
When is the second book coming out?
I am hoping to have it out in the Winter of 2011.
Can you tell me what the second book is about?
It starts where the first left off, with Danielle learning more about herself and her nightmares. It has some romance, some mystery with a few twists and turns.
Do you have any other books in the works?
I do. I have a couple of adult fiction books that I started and never finished. I will continue to work on at least one them after the Death Walker series is complete.
Your cover is beautiful and from reading the book myself, expresses the storyline wonderfully. How do you pick out your covers?
Thanks, I thought so too. As to how…I search for a picture that catches my eye and when it does it usually strikes a chord with me emotionally. As soon as I see it, I think, that is the one. It will usually be a picture that not only goes with the storyline, but portrays the characters feelings in the book in some way.
A dream has power to poison sleep. ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Mutability”
The girl runs along the path in terror. Her long, curly blonde hair whips behind her like a flag in the wind. Looking behind her she screams when she sees the advancing darkness, it is a living thing that consumes everything around it as it moves toward her. Her dress tangles around her legs and she falls to the ground, scraping her hands on the tiny pebbles that make up the paths in her father’s garden maze.
Her tears blind her, but she scrambles to her feet and continues running. She knows the paths in this maze better than her own father does and she knows how to get out, but in her terror and the darkness of night it’s hard for her to remember. All she knows is that she has to keep running or she will die. She hears a howl in the distance as she rounds a corner, coming up short as she runs into a dead end. She gasps in fear because she knows that this path was open earlier today when she walked here.
The howl is closer now and she whips around and looks back the way she came. The danger continues to move and she whimpers when she sees that a slithering fog has joined the darkness that advances toward her. She knows there is another path that leads into this one and it has to lie between her and the black nothing, if it isn’t there she will die and no one will ever know the truth.
Just then a shaft of moonlight shines down on the maze and lights up the entrance to the path just a few yards away. She glances at the danger and stifles a cry; she has to get there before it did. She starts toward the opening at a run and the darkness seems to move a little quicker. She looks into it and screams when she sees faces moving through it like shadows; ugly faces, evil faces. She skids around the corner just as a tendril of darkness reaches out to touch her.
She nearly cries in relief when she sees the bench ahead. She knows where she is and knows instantly how to get out. She glances behind her in panic and notices that the swirling mass is nearly to her now. It is moving faster now that it has more room to spread out in the center of the maze.
The howl comes again and to her it sounds like it is right behind her. She whimpers again and tries to run faster, but her body is so tired already and her lungs are starving for oxygen. Yet, she continues to push herself further. She doesn’t want to die. Just when she has found…what? What has she found?
She was back to running between the trees that make up the walls of the maze. She runs around another corner and nearly entangles herself into the opposite side. She knows that the entrance is just a few turns away when she comes to a complete halt. There in front of her stands Alexander, his hand held out to her.
Her Alex, the only one she will ever love. She cries out to him, but her voice is drowned out by a howling wind. She takes a step toward him and then turns quickly when she feels the coldness touch her.
The darkness is on her and the ghostly arms belonging to the faces reach out toward her. She screams and turns to run only to be held back by the slithering fog running along the ground. She can feel something wrap around her ankles and lock like manacles, keeping her from going anywhere.
She feels ghostly fingers wrap around her wrist and tug her back. Her screams becomes more frantic, her other hand reaching toward Alex.
She doesn’t understand why he isn’t helping her. She looks into his eyes and the pain and sadness there touches her like it’s her own until she can’t catch her breath. She pulls against her restraints until she is exhausted. Her tears stream down her face in rivers, she whispers his name as the darkness consumes her and she is blind. The last thing she sees is his haunting eyes and the last thing she hears is the mournful howl. Then she is swallowed up in darkness and the painful coldness of death.