The Night I Met Fright

Dream Wide Awake was inspired many years ago on a night I met fright. I was sleeping in the attic of my grandparent’s home—just like LeeLee in chapter three.

In a pitch-black hour, I awoke when someone grabbed my hand. My arm was wedged between the head board and mattress of my bed. I felt someone’s fingers slip into mine and when I opened my eyes, he didn’t let go.

I say “he” because I was sure I clasped hands with a devil. I didn’t see him, but could feel him with every inch of my three-year-old being. I screamed and my mother came and lifted me into her arms, pulling me from his grip. She said I was dreaming, but I knew better.

Fast forward fifty years. This single incident, still so alive in my memory, inspired Dream Wide Awake. The story is fiction, but the setting in chapter three is my grandparent’s attic. My own grandmother was bedridden as in the novel, my mother did have to help nurse her, and my parents, brother, and I moved into a makeshift apartment in her attic.

How impacting was that single incident of feeling someone’s grip in the night? Well, one, I have never once slept with a hand dangling over the side of the bed since, and two, it inspired a novel.

The novel

Dream Wide Awake is a paranormal thriller about a family of seers. And at the risk of having some people think I’m crazy and others ask what their future holds, I’ll admit I have had an occasional premonition. My most substantial one being a vague forewarning of 9/11.

For two months before the twin towers fell, I had visions that I was approaching a northeastern American city, near water, from a plane’s eye view. The image came (and there is no sane way to describe this) as a movie in my head. First, I was in the sky moving, and next, I was in a building and the gray floor boulders were buckling beneath me. The building was collapsing.

I kept notes of this vision on my big July desk calendar. Wouldn’t throw it out at the end of July or August because I was sure a building was going to fall. On September 11th when the first building collapsed, I dug my calendar out from under a myriad of paperwork, and there were my notes. All contained in the big box of the 11th of the month. I nearly passed out.

Hence my belief: premonitions can be real. Do I believe in psychics and mediums, too? Yes, to varying degrees.

As a freelance writer I once interviewed a true medium, Anne Gehman. Gehman participated alongside four other mediums in a University of Arizona professor’s afterlife experiments. (The Afterlife Experiments, Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of life After Death, by Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D. with William. L. Simon.) She said clairvoyance was like playing the piano. Some people sat down and played naturally. Others, no matter how long they trained on the keys, would never make great pianists. But some who practiced long and hard? Did became proficient.

This made me wonder. Could children be trained to be psychic?

The notion

In Dream Wide Awake, three boys have been abducted in a small town. Mikala Daly, a six-year-old girl from a normal American family, is having visions of those boys, but her parents must hide her sixth-sense abilities because of a governmental program called Project Dream.

The backstory is that after 9/11, the CIA initiated an innovative national security test program. Twenty-five children were removed from reformatory facilities across the country and placed in Project Dream. The program’s purpose was to augment the adult remote-viewing program. Scientists believed children might be more easily trained and more successful in identifying threats to the American people and government through remote viewing.

When the project produces stunning results, they “recruit” seventy-five more children. Good kids without juvenile records. Children selected had two main characteristics: a sixth sense and physical superiority.

Mikala Daly’s aunt Rachel was one of the original Project Dream kids, and now no one in Mikala’s family will divulge Mikala’s gifts for fear the government will take her away to Project Dream, too. Unbelievable? (Let me remind you of the immigration debacle.)

This story is fiction, not a premonition—I think…

Read on!

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CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awakeand Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and two ChickLit novels Friends Who Move Couches and Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House. Many of her novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here.

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Hi! I'm CJ,

a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, true girl’s girl and lover of people. I am an e-book hoarder, coffee junkie, chocolate addict and mellow-glass-of-wine drinker. I live with a read-write-run disorder.

Welcome to my world!
Thanks for stopping by!

I hope you’ll stay for a while. If you’re like me and love heartfelt conversations and spooky chats, you may enjoy one of my novels. I write women’s fiction and chick lit for melancholy, messy-hair days. And I compose riveting psychological thrillers and psychic crime fiction stories to keep you awake at night.

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