Author’s name:K.M. Weiland
Title of book: Dreamlander
Brief summary of the story:
Every night, Chicago-born journalist Chris Redston dreams of a woman riding a black warhorse through the mist. The only thing she ever says is, “Don’t come.” And then she shoots him—every single time. And every single time, he wakes up in a cold sweat and wonders … what if dreams aren’t what we’ve always been told they are?
Only one person in a generation may cross the barrier of dreams to reach the other world—a world of war-scarred countries and fallen faiths. When Chris finds himself on the far side of his dreams, he must hurl himself into battle to save a princess from her own people, two worlds from annihilation, and himself from a dream come way too true.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
Lael is a parallel world to our own. Every person in our world also has a body in Lael–in which they live while dreaming in our world, and vice versa. I had a lot of fun building Lael. In the beginning, it was much more medieval. No technology. Very Crusades era. But then I had the fun idea for the water-powered guns. That immediately gave me a 16th-century/Three Musketeers vibe. So I started exploring that era a little more, particularly in regards to fashion and architecture. The skycar was a very late addition, during the last big rewrite.
If we were to visit Lael as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
I really love the skycar stations, particularly the five-story Faramore Station in the capital city. Réon Couteau, with its waterfall caverns, was pretty fun too. And I love the Karilus Wall, just for sheer geographic massiveness.
What dangers should we avoid in Lael?
Mostly, the war. The neighboring duchy of Koraud, on the eastern border, is threatening war, especially now that rumors are circulating of the resurrection of its famed warlord Faolan Mactalde. Plus, there’s the threat of religious and political unrest from the Nateros protesters—a faction of fanatical traditionalists—within Lael’s own borders.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Lael?
The traditional meal at the ceremony to anoint the latest Gifted—the only person in a generation who can cross between the “dream” world of Lael and the “real” world—includes capon with olives and chestnuts, roasted salmon, eggs with cream and honey, chocolate-covered dassberries, and craniss wine.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Lael?
Single-shot firearms, powered by a hydraulic system that draws moisture from the air, are popular. However, they take too long to reload to be of any use in close combat.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Lael?
Horses and skycars are the most common. The skycar is a glass-encased cable car that glides upon the steel cables that crisscross most of the country. The skycar trains run on a basic pulley system, operated by steam engines at stations spaced along the tracks. Depending on variables such as rain and wind, the skycars can maintain the speed of a horse’s gallop all the way across half the kingdom, gliding half a league above terrain too rough with hills and lakes to offer straight roads.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Lael that we don’t see on Earth?
You might encounter Cherazii—a race of berserking warriors, who are servants to the traditions of the Gifted, passed down through the ages. Their skin is the color and translucency of an egg white, veined with blue. Both men and women traditionally wear their hair long, veiling but not hiding the batwing ears that rise two or three inches above their heads.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Lael? If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
There is no magic in the traditional sense, only the ability of the Gifted to cross between the worlds and use the sacred Orimere—or “dreamstone”—to transport physical objects from one world to the other.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Lael as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
Although the Cherazii keep their own time among themselves, pretty much everyone recognizes the central calendar of 365 days a year. The hours are counted down from dawn. Laelers observe several holy days, including the Commemorating Festival, the Feast of the Camp, and the Day of Prayer. They also customarily celebrate the king’s birthday, a day of prayer and thanksgiving at the end of the harvest, and, although not official, a mid-winter week of merry-making.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Lael? Please describe what it involves.
Lael is monotheistic and worships the “God of all.” Clergy are paid by the tithe tax of the people. The entire government is actually considered to be part of the church. But only a select few actually stand in the position of “pastor” or “orator.” The priests in the city temples are chosen and elected in much the same manner as the judges. A man does not have to be ordained to preach, so many smaller churches throughout the country exist, but these men are not paid by the government.
What is the political or government structure in Lael? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Lael is a monarchy, currently ruled by King Tireus II. He is a strong, if not particularly diplomatic, leader, but he will be remembered primarily as the father of the current Searcher, Allara Katadin—whose responsibility is to find and guide the Gifted when he first crosses into Lael.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
The original idea for the book was my brother’s. He suggested I write a story about a parallel world we visit in our dreams. My imagination took it from there!
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
The primary theme of the book centers around the conundrums and difficulties of faith. I wanted to build a fantasy society in which religion was widespread and widely accepted, but I dealt with Chris—my “real world” character—and his faith much more subtly, because, although I wanted to deal with religious themes, I didn’t want the story to necessarily be one that was about his personal redemption. So I got to discuss faith-based elements much more obviously in the POV of the dream-world character Allara.
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