Nightmare on Myrtle Street

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The robot nation puts you in a barbed-wire pen. The snarling beast chews your arm to pieces. The masked man steals into your apartment, knife ready to slash your throat. And then the more plebian ones: you’re out in public, with no clothes on, or taking a final exam for a subject you’re unfamiliar with.

By now you know what I’m talking about. Not just altered consciousness. Nightmares. But when I lived on Myrtle Street as a young woman, I didn’t have just run of the mill nightmares. I had detailed vivid dreams, during which I even felt pain, or smelled strange smells. My lifestyle, hanging out with musicians and experimenting with various substances, fed the tendency of my nighttime psychic wanderings.

Once I became lucid in my dream-state, and realized I wouldn’t actually die, I enjoyed the challenge of finding ways to survive. I would wake to ponder the meaning of my latest sleep excursion. The nightmare about the poisonous hallucinogen, disguised as drink and served at a remote mountain inn while we waited for our meals, especially intrigued me. I got a glimpse of a sinister doctor lurking by the barrel which held the viscous dark liquid. The doctor and his associates were cannibals, who had waited for the full moon before unleashing their hellish concoction on the unsuspecting diners.

I experienced this dream as one of the poisoned subjects, a young woman on her own. I wondered at her predicament. How did she come to be in that isolated and dangerous situation? Why did she have to break a man’s neck? What was the meaning of the skull castle that she saw when she turned into a falcon and flew into the sky?

Once I started writing, I christened her Peppa Mueller, and her acerbic skeptical personality came into sharp focus. I took the journey with Peppa, and learned more about myself. I also discovered a hero in the story that wasn’t in my nightmare: Tenzin, a Bhutanese man of deep insights and compassion.

Now I’m ready to share the journey with my readers. The three books in the Falcon series have gone far beyond the original nightmare, evolving into a metaphysical exploration of the body/mind split.

How Peppa is like Carrie Mathison

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I wrote the character of Peppa Mueller before I started watching Homeland. Do I like Homeland because Carrie reminds me of Peppa? Yes.
Has Peppa been influenced by Carrie? No doubt.

Similarities
• Intense, skinny blondes with a wild side.
• Career women who put their passion into their work
• On the other hand, they’re not averse to a roll in the hay
• Daughters who fear having inherited their fathers’ psychological problems
• They look intently. They see the truth.
• Uneasy relationship with their older male mentors, who occasionally try to restrain them
• Just when you get used to them being in one country, they’re someplace else.

 

Because I’m half Swiss, I like to organize, although perhaps my methods are eccentric. Readers tell me that they’re intrigued by my references to various botanicals, or Swiss culture, or Irish politics, and would like to learn more. For a fast-paced read, I omitted many cultural and scientific details. I’ll be blogging about them instead. Each book in the Falcon series has its own posts that describe places I travel to for background research, and plants that feature in the books. The Inspiration blogs are general, ranging from music I like to write by, to my thoughts about religion, animals, and other topics. You can either browse all posts, or click on each category. If there’s anything you’d like to know about in particular, drop me a note through info@gabriellemathieu.com or Twitter: @GabrielleAuthor.

  1. Inspiration
  2. The Falcon Flies Alone
  3. The Falcon Strikes
  4. The Falcon Soars

Why go to all that trouble for a dog?

Some initial readers for The Girl who was a Falcon questioned the idea of a IMG_2257girl going into danger just to rescue her pet dog. In subsequent drafts, I played up Peppa’s fascination with Unruh’s experiments, and her susceptibility to the right kind of flattery.

But she does love her dog.

The Falcon series explores the place animals and plants have in the lives of humans, and how they enrich our experience. Flora and fauna form the body of Gaia, the living biosphere that includes humans. While we choose to interact increasingly with machines of our own manufacture, our brains are hardwired to respond to natural surroundings—the shift of day into night—the movement of the seasons—the sounds of the sea that echo the pulsing of our own salty fluid, our blood. Plants and animals, even when placed in our homes and gardens, evoke the natural state humans inhabited for so many centuries. We still bring the outside in, and cherish it.

Most of us have heard of companion animals, animals that help ground and stabilize emotionally or mentally fragile people. But really, almost anyone can benefit from companionship of a loving, trusting furry friend. Different species bring various gifts. Since adopting my first dog, Ellie, pictured above, I’ve learned to think of many dogs as psychic sponges. They’re adept at absorbing their owner’s emotions, and perhaps, neutralizing them, in certain instances. I’ve even had friends ask if they could take Ellie for a walk in the woods on days they’re feeling particularly anxious. With her warm, sturdy body, and innocent acceptance, she comforts people.

It seemed logical then, that Peppa, a girl who feels alone, would risk her safety and sanity to get Simone back.

Maybe my Falcon series will even inspire you to visit a shelter and adopt your own dog. If you live in the USA, you’ll find a lot of pit bull mixes in the shelter. Let me assure you that pit bulls are maligned unnecessarily. Don’t tease your pit bull puppy, be firm, but show love, and given time your pup will reward you.

If you end up adopting, send me your story.

Imagine

The intersection of fantasy and reality.
A fairy tale—
Once upon a time, in a far way place, there was a girl.
You could be that girl.
That time is the recent past.
The place is foreign, but not unreachable.

Above a RainbowThis photograph was taken in the Canton (state) of St. Gallen, Switzerland, close to where Peppa has her first psychoactive trip. You can get there by taking a train to a place called Wasserauen. No poison potion needed.