“Is all that we see or seem,
But a dream within a dream?”
|Warning: The Dreaming contains some elements of cultural appropriation, including misinterpretations of Australian aboriginal culture (namely in vol3). This was done without the approval or knowledge of any aboriginal person, and I apologise if any offense has been caused.
I decided to post this message up of my own accord, because I want to make people understand the problematic nature of this narrative should they choose to read it. Please see below for more details.
The Dreaming is a supernatural mystery story about a pair of identical twin sisters who arrive at their new private boarding school, only to find that it is haunted by something frightening and evil. Set in the remote Australian bush and using native myths as its inspiration, this ghost story is light on gore and aimed at anyone who enjoys an atmospheric story.
The Dreaming is a 3-book series, plus an additional short story that is available in the Collected Edition. There are no plans for any prequels/sequels as yet.
Volumes 1-2 is available online. Volume 3 has to be purchased, and you can also buy the 3-in-1 collected edition.
Available from Amazon in print, and from Comixology as ebooks.
|Rated:||T for Teens. Ages 13+.|
|Audience:||There is no blood, gore or violence in the story. It is a story written largely for teenagers, but which adults can also enjoy.|
|Read if you like:||The Others, Twilight Zone, The works of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.|
|Download:||The 1st and 3rd print editions of “The Dreaming” has paper dolls included in the books. I have part1 and part2 here for download if you want them. Right-click with your mouse and press “Save As” to download them.|
Amber and Jeanie Malkin are 15 year-old students at Greenwich Private College, a private boarding school located in North Sydney which is connected to vast virgin bushlands. The distinguished school has a hundred-year history, and is run entirely by its vice-principal, who has a strange and inexplicable prejudice against identical twins.
After settling in and meeting their new friends, the girls learn more about the history of the school and its mysterious surrounding bushlands, which they are warned against going into. This is because, time and again, young girls from the school have wandered off into the bush, and then vanished without a trace – as if the bush swallowed them whole. It has never been explained, just accepted by those who live in fear of it.
Soon after, the twins began having idential dreams, which neither can understand the meaning of. Exactly what is the meaning of the dreams? How are the dreams connected to the history of the school? And most of all, what is the mystery behind The Dreaming?
The Dreaming is a 3-book series, with an additional 20-page short story. It was published from 2004-2007 by L.A.-based publisher TOKYOPOP, and collected into a single book in November 2010 called “The Dreaming: Perfect Collection”. The Perfect Collection contains all 3 volumes, an additional 20-page short story, colour art inserts, and an interview with me.
The series was a success when released, and has since been translated into many languages, including French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Finnish, Indonesian, Japanese, Icelandic, Russian and Turkish. I even participated a week-long visit to Istanbul, Turkey to promote the series, courtesy of Turkish publisher Tudem. There is currently also a movie in the works.
How The Series Got Published
There is an interesting story behind the creation of The Dreaming. It was born out of a mixture of 2 stories (1 on this website); TwinSide and Block 6, a horror webcomic that once ran on Wirepop. TwinSide, ofcourse, was the successor to Twins. Both were submitted to TOKYOPOP – the second one on a whim – and when the verdict came out, I was told that they liked the art of TwinSide, but the story of Block 6. They also said they wanted something that would appeal to their target audience of teenage girls. So my then-editor suggested doing a story based on a haunted school.
Well, to say I was caught off-guard is an understatement. However, when I gave it proper thought, I realised there was potential behind this idea, and something interesting can be made out of it. The Australian Bush and haunted schools have a long and distinguished tradition in this country, and I decided I could embed some home-grown mythology into this story. I also didn’t intend it to appeal solely to teenage girls – I don’t remember ever having done anything aimed solely at a particular demographic. I decided the story will be aimed at… people who like my work.
What is important is the story anyway, as always. This time I eschewed the Block 6 element of gross-out blood and decided to concentrate on creating atmosphere; giving the story an air of dreamy mystery. As a result, I intend this to be more of a mystery with horror elements rather than a straight-out horror.
As I said in the warning tag above, The Dreaming features misrepresentation of Australian aboriginal culture, namely in volume 3. It’s cultural appropriation, done without the approval, knowledge or consent of any aboriginal persons, and therefore inappropriate. If I caused any offense, I wish to apologise.
I mentioned before I chose to put this message up of my own accord, and I want to share with you my reasons for raising awareness of this issue. I also want to talk about the circumstances that led to The Dreaming turning out the way it did.
The Dreaming was first written when I was 24, back when I was young and clueless about what I was doing. I had some vague ideas about “Australian culture,” but when I was asked by an American publisher (TOKYOPOP in this case) to do a “haunted school story”, I jumped at the chance in the belief that this work will only be available in the United States. For that reason, I was also not aware of the problematic nature of what I was doing, especially years down the road when I am now much older.
Anyway, The Dreaming was eventually published in English and in multiple languages, and made it to Australian shores somehow. I didn’t really do anything to promote it back in the day, and hasn’t since, because as I grew older, I gradually came to realise that I’d unwittingly participated in something that was wrong, ignorant and at worst, insulting. The Dreaming sold reasonably well (despite having almost zero advertising), and when TOKYOPOP decided to shut down its publishing department in 2011, I thought it was the end of that. As I said, I’ve moved on it and didn’t do anything to promote it.
Little did I know that The Dreaming would only grow in stature in the years to come. Schools bought it, often from the US, and from 2014 onwards, I started to encounter people who have read it and loved it in high school. I then found out that it was being taught in Australian schools, as part of an English textbook called “English Is…” (for years 7-8), as an example of “visual literature.” I was apparently listed as “Australian’s first internationally-published manga artist” in there or something, and I honestly don’t know how to deal with it. It seems that despite my best efforts to move on, The Dreaming has become my best known work.
All this concerns me, because I’m now fully aware of the problematic nature of the story, and how it just takes and distorts aboriginal culture. I’ve always wanted to reach out to the aboriginal community and do something about it, but had no idea who to talk to. Now, I recently learned that TOKYOPOP, the original publisher who I sold all rights (subsidiary included) of my story to, is now reviving its publishing department. Again, I don’t know how to deal with this. All I know is that TOKYOPOP, since they have a movie they’re attempting to develop, and they’ve shown the story to several aboriginal filmmakers who found it offensive. Needless to say, I was utterly mortified that this happened. Sadly, the publisher has not given me the filmmaker’s information so I can do an outreach, even after I asked for it.
Anyway, I’m not sure what will happen from now on. If TOKYOPOP is going to republish The Dreaming, I’ve decided to see if I can get some sort of forward to the book so I can at least point out why some of the stuff in it is offensive. I’m also looking to see if I can reach out to the aboriginal community, since I’ve realised that The Dreaming and the fallout isn’t going away any time soon.
2-Sep-2016: This is an on-going thing, so hopefully it can be resolved in some manner. However, I’ve not heard back from the publisher for months, so I assume this initiative to republish “The Dreaming” may have been stalled.