The Big Idea: Dan Rice
In author Dan Rice’s Big Idea, he shows us a world beyond our own, alongside a world that happens to be our own. How is this possible? Follow along as he tells us a bit about his inspiration for his debut novel, Dragons Walk Among Us.
Is there a world before our eyes that most people overlook? What are the ramifications for someone who can see the unseeable? This is the big idea behind my debut novel Dragons Walk Among Us.
I first became interested in the world that most people overlook through photography. For example, star trails illuminate landscapes that most people never experience except through photographs taken by others. What really started to fascinate me years ago are water droplets––on blades of grass, flower petals, leaves, windows, etc. Individual little worlds are scattered across the dewy grass, and most people never take the time to appreciate them. Sometimes I imagine each dewdrop is a microcosmos populated by strange creatures. I suppose on the infinitesimal scale of microbes, this is true.
I love photographing water droplets with my macro lens. Getting as close as possible, sometimes even using an extension tube so that the lens is practically touching the water (it will if you’re not careful!). This exploration of liquid splendor made me wonder what else is out there right before our eyes that we overlook. Over time and a few false starts, this question became a germ for a story that grew into Dragons Walk Among Us.
In my novel, Allison Lee, the protagonist, is blinded after an unprovoked assault. Frightened that her dream of becoming a photojournalist has just been flushed down the toilet, she agrees to undergo a radical experimental procedure to restore her vision. The surgery is a success. Thanks to her prosthetic eyes, her visual perception is better than ever before. In fact, she can now see things that no one else can. She can see the invisible world that is right in front of our noses.
Allison is thrust into a situation where she is literally unable to believe her eyes. Why can’t anyone else see what she does? Allison doesn’t trust her sight, so why should her friends? Allison eventually tells her friends, her squad as she refers to them, what she has seen. Their reaction is what she expected, incredulity. They give voice to her doubts. Her visions are a byproduct of the assault or a side effect of the prosthetics. She should really get her prosthetic eyes checked.
Despite their reservations, Allison’s squad helps her discover that the invisible world that only she can see is very real indeed. Disturbing the denizens of the realm between worlds has far-reaching consequences for Allison, her squad, and the world.
Ultimately, the lesson I’ve drawn from pondering the consequences of discerning the unseen is that there’s a great benefit to slowing down, lifting your head up, and taking the time to observe your surroundings. You might be surprised by what you see and what inspires you. I know this always proves true for me.