LEGENDS OF THE DARK DREAMER TRILOGY: A Guest Post by Amber R. Duell
The Dark Dreamer trilogy all began with the Sandman. He’s always been such a fascinating legend to me. Almost every night I have vivid dreams and used to look their meanings up in the morning with dream dictionaries, so the idea that there’s someone who helps usher those dreams in is close to my heart. But the Sandman isn’t the only myth I included in the series.
Research can be a bit of a rabbit hole, and let me tell you—I fell head first. Between researching sleep and different fears, I also read every version of the Sandman myth I could find on the internet. That’s where I found other mythical dream creatures and, of course, had to find a place for them.
Baku was the first legend I decided to add. The Japanese chimera eats nightmares—how perfect was that?! Baku was apparently made from spare parts when God finished making all the other animals and children can call out to him if they have a bad dream. If he’s still hungry after eating the nightmares, he’ll eat hopes and dreams too—a tidbit that helped me figure out his personality in the Dark Dreamer trilogy. Also, a fun fact: Baku inspired the Pokemon Drowzee!
The third legend you can find is Mare (or Mara) who comes from German and Slavic folklore. Mare is said to sit on people’s chest as they sleep, sometimes resulting in death, and brings them nightmares. She’s such an old legend, stemming from the 13th century, that I wanted her to play an important role in the Dark Dreamer world instead of simply being a new villain that popped up. Once I figured out Mare’s history, she was a lot of fun to write. Fun fact: In 2018, as I was writing Dark Consort, the horror movie Mara released.
Working with legends was really exciting for me. Unlike fairy tales—which I also enjoy retelling—you get to create the entire story from scratch. There are points to hit to keep the character who they’re expected to be, but outside of that, their story completely yours. I hope they’re as enjoyable for everyone to read!