Contemporary authors discuss the ways in which sleep affects their writing—and writing affects their sleep, reports Van Winkles.
I’m a deep sleeper, and always have been. In 1994 my family was visiting Disneyland when the famous Northridge earthquake struck. I slept right through it in our hotel room, much to my dad’s dismay. I guess I had a really great dream going on or something, and no time or interest in the realities of the moment.
As for sleep in my writing: there’s a pivotal scene in my new novel Youngblood that involves a group of soldiers taking a knee in the center of a riot. It’s an attempt, a plea really, for calm. For years, I remembered my mom telling me a similar story before my unit deployed to Iraq in 2007, as an example of moral courage taking form in a unique way in the midst of war and armed conflict. She’s a big reader, well-versed in history, and though memory distorted when and where it’d exactly taken place—had it been British-occupied India? the Gaza Strip? Somewhere in Central America?—the idea and story took hold in my mind. It had great impact upon me, both as a junior officer in Iraq and then later as a creative writer.