A Story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke
Before I tell you about Dangerous Dreams, I must tell you why I decided to write anything at all. Operational fighter pilots and cowboys don’t usually do a lot of writing, and I was no exception during my operational flying and early cowboy years. But test pilots are different. They write about everything they do in the process of flight testing a new aircraft; and so it was with me when I became a test pilot, and thereafter, during my non-flying Air Force and aerospace-consulting years. But while I’d always enjoyed technical writing, I one day realized that my affection had unwittingly morphed into a passion to write historical fiction. Then, in 1991, I discovered that our public schools were teaching little more than a survey level of history. In retaliation, since knowledge of American history was near the top of my “favorites” list, I decided to write a young adult historical fiction novel—one that along the way, insidiously taught real history in the exciting and often frightening manner in which it occurred. Early in my search for a worthy historical event to write about, I discovered an article on the Lost Colony of Roanoke and quickly concluded that one could do no better than a fiction plot based on America’s most vexing and enduring mystery—a mystery that lives on today. I then had one remaining issue to resolve.
On several occasions in my adult life, I’ve experienced dreams so real and organized in form, texture, content, structure, and recall that I awoke believing I’d actually participated in a true American saga: the battle of the Alamo. I vividly recalled the dream plots, events, and feelings of closeness I shared with the other Alamo defenders—some famous, but most unknown to me in life. I spoke with them, laughed with them, feared with them, and ultimately died with them. Even today I remember them and the battle in the same way I remember my friends and battles from the Vietnam War. Yet, though my presence in the dreams felt first-person, I never recalled hearing my name. So I wondered, “Was the first-person presence mine, or someone else’s—someone whose senses, mind, and voice I subsumed during the dreams?” I then discovered that two men with the same fairly uncommon last name—a name the same as that of a branch of my family—had died at the Alamo. Could one, or both, be my ancestor(s)? If so, could some special dreaming gift have enabled me to participate in the battle, across the span of time, through the senses, mind, and heart of an ancestor? Could others do the same?
These dreaming experiences compelled me to present my historical fiction novel through the lens of a series of vivid, sensory, movie-like dreams—like mine—by a teenage girl in the present. So I delved into dream science to determine if any learned people thought such dreams were possible, and if so, how. My research was consumingly fascinating; but it convinced me that, in spite of valiant efforts to the contrary, mankind’s proven body of dream-science knowledge is thin—more theory than fact. And perhaps because of this predominance of theory over fact, I found that I could craft plausible explanations for my unique dream characteristics from extant dream theory; and do so with complete intellectual honesty.
Thus, Dangerous Dreams, a young adult novel, with parallel stories in the past and present, was born. But after I wrote the story and received the usual plethora of rejections, a helpful agent suggested that Dangerous Dreams might make a good adult novel. I took the advice; and, after a 19-year hiatus to run an aerospace consulting firm and the family cattle ranch, I embarked on the journey in 2011, finally publishing the adult version of “Dangerous Dreams” in October 2015.
Why Version Two of Dangerous Dreams?
While the original version of Dangerous Dreams (October 2015-July 2016) received excellent reviews, I knew a 779-page story intimidated some number of readers, as well as most book clubs. So I shortened the story to 592 pages, by eliminating 90 percent of the contemporary plot—namely, the bulk of the explanatory dream science and theory—while retaining the core contemporary dreaming-gift story, as well as the entire historical story. I then relocated the removed dream science and theory material to this website, for “interested students” to ponder at their leisure. It is, indeed, fascinating material. See the “Dream Science and Theory” page of this “About the Book” section.
Author Hopes for Dangerous Dreams
In retrospect, I had subliminal hopes for those who read Dangerous Dreams. In addition to pure enjoyment, I wanted them to personally know the courageous, somewhat naïve, souls who left their homes in England for a dangerous, uncertain future. Who were they, why did they leave, what did they seek, what did they fear, what kept them going in the face of daunting adversity, what were they like, what was it like being with them and feeling their everyday hopes and fears, what might have been their fate?
Finally, through the contemporary story, I hoped readers would realize that history is made day-to-day; and it’s the daily individual thoughts, actions, and interactions of human beings that ultimately define it. I also wanted readers to grasp that when history was being lived, it was every bit as real, exciting, and frightening to the people living it, as our lives are to us today.