Sleeping FAQ
What inspired you to write Sleeping Beauty?
Sleeping 300-450-shadowI heard a story on NPR one morning about a woman who suffered from Kleine-Levin Syndrome (a.k.a. “KLS,” a.k.a. “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome” ). KLS is severely debilitating, with sufferers experiencing prolonged bouts of sleep combined with blackout periods that can last for days or weeks at a time. Oftentimes, they will appear by others to be functioning perfectly normally, but will have no recollection of this time after they “wake up.” I’ve had narcolepsy since about 2003, so I have more of an interest in sleep disorders than most people. It’s one thing to want to sleep all the time; it’s another thing altogether to be powerless to stop yourself from sleeping and/or blacking out for weeks at stretch and to have no memory of the time that has passed! Sleeping Beauty started out as a straightforward comedy about a woman who “wakes up” to find that she had supposedly fallen madly in love with a man seven weeks before. Although the characters themselves are very funny, and they find themselves in situations that are very humorous, there are also portions that are much more somber. For this reason, Sleeping Beauty falls into the Contemporary Romance category. No doubt this was result of the struggle I was having managing the long-term effects of narcolepsy in my own life. Every laugh and tear in Sleeping Beauty was cathartic to write.
There's a memorial service in Chapter 27 of Sleeping Beauty where a slideshow's played in celebration of a character's life. What song accompanies the slideshow, and how did you get permission to use the lyrics of it in your novel?
The song in question is “Can’t Cry Hard Enough,” by The Williams Brothers. I’ve been in love with this song, with its lyrics of universal loss and despair, since I first heard it in 1992. When I wrote the memorial service scene in Chapter 27, I tried to write the chapter without referring at all to the lyrics (which is a violation of copyright and is illegal). In the end, I finally researched how one goes about obtaining permission to use song lyrics in a book, and then tracked down the rights holder for the lyrics and asked for permission. I expected that 1) I would be denied; 2) They would ask for a large amount of money for the rights. In the end, the rights-holder simply asked for an excerpt from the novel where the lyrics would be used and agreed to grant gratis (free) use of the lyrics.
I read that you were working on an enhanced content project. What is 'enhanced content'?
Here’s how I describe the project to those who haven’t heard of enhanced content: Imagine you’re reading a book where all the characters are gathered around to watch a memorial service video and that this video not only contains a photograph montage of the deceased but also impromptu eulogies from two friends—all of it synched to the song. Like anyone can tell you who’s been to a memorial service in the last ten years, video montages of the deceased are all the rage…rightly so. There’s a reason that “a picture is worth 1,000 words.”

Of course, you’ve probably read this type of scene in a book before and I can tell you that as an author it’s one of the most difficult types of scenes to write. Why is that? Well, describing one photograph is simply a matter of one or two sentences of prose. When you’re talking about describing twenty-five photographs that flash by, one after the other in a video montage, what’s an author to do? You can’t very well expect a reader to choke their way through multiple paragraphs of photograph descriptions.

And as for music, well, you know what they say about that: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Prose simply can’t capture the emotion, the essence of music.

But imagine that instead of reading a description of the video, you are able to watch the video and hear the music with everyone else at the memorial service. This isn’t like any other enhanced content you’ve seen before (if you’ve even seen it before; there has been precious little to compare it to, with the exception of “how-to” nonfiction books).

Riptide Picture of VideoOf course, there are readers who are not excited about the prospect of anything besides the written word invading their reading experience, and I get that—I really do. Fear not! If a reader would rather not access the enhanced content, they can simply click a link that skips the video and allows them to go on and read the prose version of the video. The reader misses no part of the story by skipping the interactive content and everyone wins.

Who Sings 'Can't Cry Hard Enough' in the enhanced video of the memorial service scene in Chapter 27?
Andy Hackbarth
Andy Hackbarth

A musician friend of mine, Andy Hackbarth.Honestly, I thought I could never love a song as much as I love the original, but his version is perfect. “Can’t Cry Hard Enough” by Andy Hackbarth is on the “Sleeping Beauty Novel Soundtrack” and is available on Spotify. Fun facts:

Elle Hussy* Andy is an award-winning singer/songwriter. His song “We Ain’t Done Yet” was featured by Major League Baseball during the World Series.
* Many, many years ago, I played the cheating girlfriend in the video for Andy’s song “The Last Love Song” which was filmed and produced but never released due to creative differences. The stills from this video will comfort me in my old age as all my, er, bits & pieces start to sag and become increasingly less likely to be featured in a music video.

There's a lot of surfing, surfer slang, and surfer culture in Sleeping Beauty? Do you surf?
I’m an expert channel surfer. If I was ever stupid enough to get on a surfboard, I’d imagine my experience would be about the same as when I was stupid enough to get on a snowboard: immediately falling and crashing and fracturing two vertebra and rupturing two discs. The world is safer without me on a surfboard. I did do quite a lot of research on surfing, however. I find the sport and the culture absolutely fascinating!
Claire Beau, the heroine of Sleeping Beauty, is an aspiring actress and there are many scenes that take place on a movie set. The details make these scenes so realistic! Did you visit an actual movie set in order to write those scenes?
No. I read lots and lots of books on how movies are shot, particularly the terminology and the roles and responsibilities of the various people on the set—from the crew to “the talent.” Once I had a grasp of the basics, I sat down with an friend of mine who spent years in Hollywood on both movie and TV sets and stage productions and interviewed her for hours and hours about every minute detail I could think of from the moment an actor walks through the door of a soundstage. What do they see once inside? How does everyone know where to go? Who tells them where to get dressed? How do they know when their scene is about to be shot? Do people bring their own food or does the production provide food? If you’re an extra, how do you know when you’re “done?” Every question I could think of, I asked!
If Sleeping Beauty were adapted for film who would your dream cast be?
Sleeping Beauty FinalFrom left to right:
Claire Beau: Hayden Panettiere
Dr. Brendan Charmant: Jamie Bamber
Davin Wibbens: Kevin Zegers
West Beau: Chord Overstreet
Lt. Colonel James “Gray” Grayson: Dove Meir
Revnor “Rev” Carlin: Tyler Cook
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