Friday, September 2, 2011

When research makes you shiver in your sleep

I've been researching books written in first person with multiple viewpoints and Mel, the owner of Cover to Cover Books, has been on the lookout for me. The book she recommended was love story Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls) by Maggie Stiefvater.

I shall never forgive her.

"It is a YA book about werewolves," she said.

I cringed. I am not into werewolves, zombies or vampires. I never have been. Even as a teenager, if that had been the only types of books being cranked out, I would have stopped reading. It isn't that I have anything against them, it is just that they scare the beejeebers out of me. I prefer to be entertained rather than terrorized. I can read the newspaper if I want to be frightened.

So, I was prepared to despise the novel. It annoys me to say this, but I was swept up in the book and secretly even enjoyed it, though I'll never admit it to anyone. I could have stopped after several chapters, satisfied with my research, but I had to continue reading it. Oh there was a little too much teenage angst for me in a couple of places, but as a young adult I wouldn't have thought so. This isn't meant to be a book review, however. It is meant to tell you not to ever read the book if you are a yellow-belly, wimp, like me. The same horrible thing could to happen to you.

The night before I finished the book, I fell asleep trying not to think of the snowy, cold, werewolf haven in Mercy Falls, and I succeeded. Instead, in my dream, a friend had to go to work and asked me to watch her son. (Which might even be worse than werewolves, I admit)

"He's been complaining his head itches. Would you mind checking it?"

"Sure," I told my friend (who was somewhere off camera)

After she left, I began searching for signs of lice in the boy's hair. I started at the base of the skull and worked my way up to the crown, and was relieved to see no signs. But then I saw a patch of skin that had been torn nearly away but lay flat against the scalp. You know, when you rip a whole in your skin and you can lift a patch up, but it is still being held by one side? Yes, that kind. Those are the worst, because dirt can get trapped under them. Apparently I am a lot braver in my dreams than in real life. I decided to lift up that patch of skin to see if there was dirt under it. This was curled up under it.
It was about the size of a worm and curled under that flap, burrowed down so there wasn't even a lump on the head.

I screamed.

And woke up.

When my breathing returned to normal, I thought of purple and yellow pansies and a brown box filled with kittens until I fell back to sleep.

Now I was on the phone with the advise nurse, who was telling me I could flush out the worm myself. I just needed to mix Tourkenque (I don't know what she said...but it sounded something like tourkenque) and saline and lift the flap--

"I can't do that! It is a snake. A snake!" I said.

"I thought you said it was the size of a worm," the nurse said over the phone, sounding accusatory.

"It is the size of a worm, but it has fangs and its forked tongue keeps darting out."

"Well, you can still flush it out yourself, by..."

I woke up. This time I thought about raindrops on roses and warm woolen mittens. I reprimanded myself for continuing the dream, and gave myself a sharp warning not to do it again. I drifted off to sleep.

This time, I was at the emergency room with the miscreant boy with the snake in his head. I pleaded with someone (off camera) to get it out and they were insisting I should do it myself. "I can't do it myself," I whined. "It is a snake. And it has this huge depression in the skull where it has been skulking."

The nurse glared, like I was a bad mother for not wanting to remove my own son's snake-in-the-head. At this point, if he had been my own son, I would have disowned him, claiming I'd never seen him before, but since it was only a dream, I crooked my finger at the nurse. She sidled over, her eyes narrowed and her hands on her hips.

"What?" she snapped.

"You don't understand. If you try to make me get that snake out, you'll not only end up having to do it yourself, but you'll have to stitch up my head because I will have split it open when I fainted and crashed to the floor," I explained.

She gave me a look that said, "Paleease. Just do it."

I woke up.

This went on several more dream sessions. I woke up in the morning a mass of nerves and feeling slightly queasy.

I blame this on the werewolves of Mercy Falls and I'll ask Mel, at the bookstore, to start looking for children's picture books for me from now on. Picture books about puppies.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this, is that wrong? HAHA It's not that I enjoyed your suffering. I did however enjoy the way you told it!

  2. Jase,

    So it is true. The more the character suffers, the more the reader enjoys the conflict. Hummph.
    Thanks for following, by the way.

  3. Take a dose of The Wind in the Willows and follow it up with some Winnie the Pooh and you'll be better in a week.

  4. Carolyn,

    I can see you are filled with pity for me. Phhffft. :)

  5. Maggie Steifvater, is by far one of the best books I've read in my life. Her story combines mystery with romance, intrigue with passion. I can even go as far as saying that I enjoyed this book more than I enjoyed the Twilight series! Anybody who loves the works of Stephanie Meyer with also love Shiver.

  6. Ελλάδα

    I have to admit, anyone who could drag me into a werewolf or a vampire book is an excellent writer. I'm glad you've put Ms. Steifvater up there with Ms. Meyer. An unsolicited endorsement for any author is always welcome. I appreciate your comment.


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