Bartender and songwriter Kelli Foster had always kept her eyes trained on the dream of stardom as a means to escape her small-town life. That focus blinded her to threat right in front of her: a bar patron who lulls her into a false sense of security and abducts her for a shadowy organization, taking her to a cabin in the middle of nowhere.
Desperate to escape and return to the world she thought she knew, Kelli bides her time, complying with her captors as they force her into a dream world where she must unravel the meaning of a song to free a hostage trapped inside a tree. Failure to free the hostage means only one thing: death, for her and the hostage.
Joined by an important test subject whose sanity unravels almost from the start, Kelli attempts to free them both. When the escape fails, Kelli’s life becomes even more difficult, and she learns that her assumptions about her life – and the world itself – could all be false. As events spiral out of control, Kelli finds herself caught in a battle between godlike beings that hold her fate, and that of the entire Organization, in their hands.
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A Guest Post From Jonathan D Allen
All of this, the lack of recognition, the stagnant sales, the feeling that you’re pushing a massive stone uphill, can be difficult, but I find nothing more difficult than those days where the energy and passion has drained away. That brings me to the most important tool that a writer can keep in his or her toolbox: lateral thinking.
Lateral thinking is what the corporate types like to call “thinking outside the box”; it’s the process by which you arrive at new solutions by using unusual modes of thinking. For me, this is the only way to get new ideas and spur creativity on days where the muse just refuses to show her face. Let me give you an example of this by talking about some examples of where this thinking aided Room 3.
The story itself came from lateral thinking. The original concept, an updated version of the film Videodrome, came from a rather straightforward place, but as roadblocks threw themselves up, lateral thinking solved those problems. Early on in the drafting process I realized that the idea of having one woman in a single room was not going to make for hugely compelling drama, no matter how vicious her captors might be. This felt like a pretty damned permanent roadblock. So much of the story revolved around Carla’s plight. The straightforward answer seemed to be to pull her out of that room and abandon the original concept altogether, but I felt I might as well not even write the story at that point.
Then came an intriguing idea, one that arrived as I drove home from work one afternoon: what if she had a neighbor? I had no idea who that neighbor might be, but I could use lateral methods to identify her. When I got home, I went to one of the most popular sources of lateral thinking, a random word generator. Sometimes the answers don’t come right away. Sometimes you have to spin through the words until the right thing grabs your attention.
This was not one of those times. Right away a word came: curly. So the new character would have curly hair. A bit more spinning, and I hit Alabama. She would be from Alabama. Music. She would be a musician. And so on until I had a new character, who I at first named Jenny. She was the answer to some of the book’s drama needs. She would be Carla’s confidante, someone else who struggled through the same things and persevered.
Little did I know that this discovery opened up the true nature of the book. In time, Jenny would morph into Kelli, a Boston girl who just wanted to be an R&B singer and struggled at a bar job to do so. Kelli would go on to eclipse Carla as the main character and provide an interesting protagonist in her own right in a novel that I happen to think is pretty good.
All because of lateral thinking.
Those moments are the ones that can keep you going when all else seems lost. The best you can do is to cling on to them and hope that they show up often enough to tell good stories.
Jonathan D Allen
Born and raised in the rural Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Jonathan wrote his first fantasy/sci-fi novel at the age of 13. After studying writing and communication at James Madison University, Jonathan turned his passion for writing into a full-time technical writing career in the DC Metro area, working for companies like Sprint/Nextel, Time Warner Cable, and Sirius XM Radio, where he had an opportunity to combine his love of music with his love of writing. He may have drifted away from fiction at times, but it was always his first love – and he always returned to it. Now living in Bethesda with his wife, two cats, and two quirky guinea pigs for which his publishing company is named, he crafts the kinds of stories that he had
always hoped to read but just couldn’t quite find.