So I've been looking forward to The Nightmare Affair since I found out that it existed, because it sounded awesome. Then I found out that Shane over at Itching for Books was going to be holding a tour for it, and so I had to stalk it out to get on it. Then I got lucky and now here I am telling you all about.
Mindee is a really awesome person and for the last few months we've talked back and forth about the book and how excited I was for it, and in the end how much I wound up loving it. I got lucky and got to do both and Author interview and an Author playlist for The Nightmare Affair which gives us a look into the making of a a little but more about the characters.
How did you get the idea for The Nightmare Affair?
From the Story Gods, of course. All I had to do was sacrifice a chicken on the full moon and then do a special dance around my computer three times.
Kidding. I would never be able to kill a chicken. One look at its poor little eyes and I would fold. This makes me a walking contradiction because I have no problem eating chickens. But so it goes.
Anyway, back to the point here. Really, the idea just came to me one day while I was researching mythical monsters for a short story. A couple of Wikipedia searches later and the idea arrived: girl who is actually a Nightmare gets caught dream-feeding on a boy she likes who is dreaming about a murder that comes true.
How did you pick and choose the magic elements included?
All the magic in the story rose organically out of the telling. The premise itself automatically required the presence of magic. I mean, how else could a person wander around someone else dreams, right? Every time something in the story required magic, I put it through a series of tests: how does the magic work? Why does it work? Why does this type of character have that ability, and so on.
The non-story essential magical elements arose more out of my desire to have fun with the story and especially the environment. I figured what’s the point of having a magical school if strange and surprising (and funny, I hope) things don’t randomly happen.
Where did the title come from?
Well, I knew that the title “Nightmare” wouldn’t be enough. Too bland, and it also didn’t strike the right tone. The book is pretty fun and whimsical, and I wanted a title to reflect that so I started brainstorming. I looked at titles of murder mysteries and capers, and the word “affair” appears in several of them, such as The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Thomas Crown Affair or The Eyre Affair. The moment I realized Affair and Nightmare rhyme in the same way as the latter, that was all she wrote. Also, The Nightmare Affair shares some similarity with The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, in terms of wacky content, which made me like the title even more. Fortunately, my publisher liked it, too.
Were there any scenes or characters that didn’t make it into the final version that you wish had?
Not a single scene got caught during revisions/edit. On the contrary, more scenes were added in. I’m discovering that all my writing leans this way; my first draft is always shorter than the final.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I love the dream sequences in the book, especially the later ones when “exciting and significant things” happen in terms of plot. I also loved writing the climax. For me, there was a lot of payoff in that scene.
How many books do you think it would take to tell Dusty’s story?
My dream/hope/wish/entreaty to the Story Gods is to get at least four books in order to finish Dusty’s story. Four would be nice, although five might work even better. Right now, I’m on contract for three books. So I guess the answer is, if the first one does well then I might get a chance of writing that fourth book. If not, I’ll have to see what I can do in three. A little scary and potentially depressing, but true.
When did you get the idea for TNA?
A good year before I actually started to write it. I got the idea in spring of 2009, but I didn’t start the official first draft until fall 2010. I finished that first draft February 2011, spent some time revising it, and the book sold to Tor July 2011.
Who inspired your writing style?
My writing “style” is really an accumulation of years of reading and writing. So I can’t to point to any single writer who inspired it. I can, however, pinpoint the inspiration for the “tone” of The Nightmare Affair. I consider myself a very tonal writer, in the sense that I start off a book hoping to capture a certain feel. For TNA the feel I wanted to capture was inspired by the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. These books are fun and a bit slapstick, but the earliest ones are also pretty dark and scary with a good solid mystery to keep you reading. I wanted something similar, only with lots of magic.
What is one book you wish you had written?
Anything by Laini Taylor. Seriously, I just adore her. I want to channel her soul and steal all of her awesomeness. Kidding, definitely kidding. But only because (1) such a thing really isn’t possible, not to mention evil, and (2) it would mean that I wouldn’t get to enjoy reading her stuff anymore, and I would never cheat myself out of the experience. Alas, a book is never the same for the writer as the reader.
What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author?
Harry Potter all the way, and yes I’m referring to all of them. It’s really just one long, epic, wonderful story. I guess this makes J.K. Rowling my favorite author by default, and I’m cool with that. Some of my other current favorites are Laini Taylor (duh), Maggie Stiefvater, Libba Bray, and Kendare Blake. Oh, and Stephen King, of course. I’ve always loved him.
Note from Mindee: There’s so much I want to say about the songs I’ve selected for this list, but I’ve got to hold back for fear of major spoilers. But basically, all of these songs do one of two things; they either capture the feel of a particular character or a particular scene.
So given that information, I'm going to keep my comments to a minimum and let the music speak for itself.
- “No Light, No Light” – Florence + The Machine
This song reminds me of Dusty, especially how she is at the beginning of the novel, a little a lost in the dark, so to speak.
- “Say You Will” – Mona
This song reminds me of a character named Paul. I’m not going to say much about him, other than that he’s a student at Arkwell. One interesting side note about this band, however, is that the lead singer, Nick Brown, is someone I grew up with. He’s super talented, and everybody should keep an eye out for him and Mona.
- “Below My Feet” – Mumford & Sons
I love this song so much, words can’t even explain. It’s utterly beautiful, and I consider it a little like Dusty’s prayer for herself. She goes through a lot of crazy things, and this song captures her way of trying to stay grounded and to rise above it all.
- “Lullaby” – OneRepublic
This song reminds me of both Dusty and Eli. They have a complicated relationship in the book, and they spend a good deal of time “dreaming” together. What better way to capture that feeling than with a lullaby?
- “Leave My Body” – Florence + The Machine
This is the theme song of Dusty’s best friend, Selene. The attitude in this song really fits her.
- “King and Lionheart” – Of Monsters and Men
Again, this one makes me think about Dusty and Eli. It’s also a beautiful song with a dreamlike quality to it.
- “Hellhound on My Trail” – Robert Johnson
So this one is just a little tongue-and-cheek, as anyone who reads the story will come to understand, but it is one of my all time favorite songs, a real blues classic.
- “Mind Eraser” – The Black Keys
This song reminds me of a particular character and a particular scene, neither of which I can mention directly. But if you’re thinking it’s a little bit creepy and scary, then you get the idea.
- “Stand” – Fly Leaf
This song reminds me of Dusty. Maybe not how she is, but certainly how she wants to be.
- “Awake and Alive” – Skillet
Dusty and Eli again.
- “I Will Wait” – Mumford & Sons
This is my theme song for Eli, although it might not be one he would chose for himself. I adore this song so much. So romantic and swoon-worthy. If Eli were to ever start a band, I imagine that he would sound a bit like this.
- “I Seen” – Mona
Another kickass Mona song, and a fitting dénouement to the playlist. The attitude in this song reminds me of Dusty, Eli, and Selene, and their collective attitude.
I hope that everyone enjoyed this post about The Nightmare Affair!