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The one where I share the story behind the story of Dreaming About Daran

Part 3 of my The Story Behind the Story series looks at the final part of my debut trilogy, Dreaming About Daran

Dreaming About Daran is the final part in the trilogy and is Clare’s story. As with Getting Over Gary, I didn’t have a clear trigger for this story; it was more a case of the story evolving. 

Authors often talk about the characters speaking to them, which may sound a little strange but this is exactly what happened with this book. I mentioned in The Story Behind the Story of Getting Over Gary that I’d created two best friends for Searching for Steven’s protagonist, Sarah, who would provide contrasting views as to whether the clairvoyant prediction had any mileage. Clare was created to be the cynic and, as she developed, she became my favourite character out of the three. She is a loyal and devoted friend to Sarah, a sparring partner for Elise, and … a little out of the blue … someone with a secret past.

I never set out to have a mysterious past for Clare but I’d created this character who was straight-talking, witty, and really quite spiky. I wanted to understand why this was the case … so Clare told me. Okay, so I don’t actually hear voices in my head or anything like that but I take what we call a ‘pantser’ approach to my writing which means I tend to have a vague (or sometimes firm) idea of where I’m heading but I don’t plan it out in any detail, instead putting fingers to keyboard and seeing where it takes me. This is when the characters are able to “talk” to me because the work evolves without a predetermined plan, sometimes in an unexpected direction. On a slight aside, if you type ‘pantser’ into Facebook, it autocorrects it to panther. Every time I try to type ‘I’m a pantser’, ‘I’m a panther’ appears and makes me giggle.

Back to the story behind the story for Dreaming About Daran, though… 

I vividly remember working on a scene in Searching for Steven when Clare’s past first rears its head. They’re talking about how Sarah temporarily lived with her parents when she moved back to Whitsborough Bay and was relieved when her auntie asked her to house-sit while she travelled the world. Out of nowhere, Clare says, “If I had to move back to Ireland, I’d hate to live with my parents… Will you listen to me? I have no intention of ever moving back to Ireland – whatever happens in my life…” And then she shuts like a clam and refuses to say anything else. I wasn’t intending to type that. It wasn’t a plot point I was working on. It wasn’t the purpose of the scene. But suddenly I knew that Clare had a past and that I was going to need to plant seeds about this across Searching for Steven and Getting Over Gary. 

What I was keen to avoid was giving some huge hints in Steven and Gary and then frustrating readers by not revealing the real story until book 3 so I was subtle; she has a past, she’s not in touch with her parents, and she won’t talk about it and I don’t dangle anything more than that. The thing is, I wasn’t actually sure what Clare’s past was going to be. I knew her parents were going to have kicked her out when she was a teenager but I hadn’t decided why they’d have done this. 

As I wrote Getting Over Gary and developed Clare further as a character, the reason for the rift presented itself but it was only when I started writing Dreaming About Daran that the true extent of her past was revealed. I’ll be honest and say I hadn’t a clue what was going to happen with Clare. I knew exactly what was going to happen with Sarah and I knew what the next phase in Elise’s story would be but Clare was an unknown entity. And that made it all the more exciting because I could simply let the words flow. Before I knew it, she had siblings she was out of touch with as well as her parents and a fascinating history that she’d kept hidden but which was about to come back and haunt her.

Searching for Steven will always be special to me because it was the idea that started it all, and the very first book I wrote. But Dreaming About Daran is my favourite book in the trilogy and probably joint-first with my first standalone book, Bear With Me. It is full of twists and turns and I think one of the reasons they work so well is that they were not pre-planned; they evolved unexpectedly. I do put Clare through a very rough ride. Actually, I’m a bit rough with all my characters, but it’s their challenges that shape them and make them stronger. I believe this also makes for a more engaging read.

I could talk a lot more about the specifics of the story that evolves for Clare but I don’t want to give any spoilers away, especially as this is a book full of unexpected surprises. If you’d like to discover these for yourself, you can buy Dreaming About Daran here. 

Next in my ‘The Story Behind the Story’ series is Raving About Rhys; a story that I never planned on writing.

Have a great week.

Jessica xx


Dreaming About Daran by Jessica Redland

Where do you go when it's your own past you're running from?

Sometimes, you can run from the past, but you can't hide. Since the age of sixteen, Clare O'Connell has lived her life by four strict rules:
1. Don't talk about Ireland
2. Don't think about Ireland
3. Don't go to Ireland
4. Don't let anyone in

And so far, it's worked well. She's got a great career, some amazing friends, and she's really happy. The future's all that counts, isn't it?

When her boss insists she travels to Ireland to repair a damaged relationship with a key client. Clare finds herself drawn back to the village of Ballykielty where she comes face to face with the one person she'd hoped never, ever to see again.

With the door to her past now wide open, the first three rules have gone out of the window. Can Clare stick to rule number four?

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