Colleen Oakley is the author of the new novel You Were There Too. She also has written the novels Close Enough to Touch and Before I Go, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times and Ladies' Home Journal. A former magazine editor, she lives in Georgia.
Q: Why did you decide to focus on the idea of dream telepathy in your new novel?
A: A few years ago, I was working on an article for WebMD magazine about sleep and came across a study on dreams—specifically one that suggested that dream telepathy, or mutual dreaming, was a real phenomenon.
I’m a really vivid dreamer and have always been intrigued by dreams and what they mean, so I found the idea of two people sharing the same dream on the same night fascinating and I knew I had to turn it into a novel.
Q: How did you research this novel, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?
A: I delved deep in the world of dream science and dream analysis online, read a couple of books, like The Mind at Night, and interviewed a few experts.
I learned a lot of really interesting tidbits—like the fact that Abraham Lincoln dreamt of his own death two weeks prior, that Google was invented in a dream, and that Paul McCartney heard the entire melody of Yesterday in a dream, woke up and wrote the lyrics.
Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?
A: I did know how it was going to end, and I never wavered. Now the path to getting there… that took about 58 drafts.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the novel?
A: This is an interesting question because I know what the novel means to me, but I think each reader will take away something different. That’s one of the fun parts of putting a book out into the world—hearing what people connect to and what it means to them.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I just finished a draft of my next novel, The Invisible Husband of Frick Island, which will hit bookshelves in May 2021.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I love hearing from readers! And I Facetime into book clubs when I can. Come find me on Instagram @writercolleenoakley or at my website.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Colleen Oakley.