Organ Transference

 

this heart of mineIn This Heart of Mine, Leah MacKenzie receives the heart of Eric, a fellow classmate. Not long after she gets out of the hospital, she finds herself craving Indian food, an ethnic food she never cared for before. She even ends up in the same Indian restaurant that Eric used to frequent because he loved their food.  Is that possible? Can that really happen with transplant patients? The answer is that in at least ten percent of all transplant cases, patients report these happenings. Yes, there are many documented stories of organ recipients suddenly developing a taste for a food they never liked before only to find out their donor loved that food. It’s a phenomenon known as organ donor transference.  After his transplant, my husband suddenly found himself craving barbecue.  And before, he simply wasn’t a big fan.  For months when he’d go out to feed this craving, he’d tell me, “I’m going out to feed the kidney.”

There are also cases of transplant recipients developing a liking for the same kind of music their donor loved, or changes in personality similar to that of the donor, Heart1developing artistic tendencies when their donor was an artist and even solving a murder. Yes, like Leah, there was a case of an eight year-old girl, who received the heart of a murdered ten year-old girl. She soon began having recurring vivid nightmares about the murder. Her mother arranged a consultation with a psychiatrist who after several sessions, concluded that she was witnessing actual physical incidents. They decided to call the police who used the detailed descriptions of the murder (the time, the weapon, the place, the clothes he wore) given by the little girl to find and convict the man in question.

Now, it is important to note that apart from miscellaneous information such as gender, age and cause of death, profiles of organ donors are traditionally concealed from their recipients for psychological reasons. So these organ recipients had no idea what their donors liked, disliked or how they behaved.

Are they doctors who argue with this theory?  Yes.  They believe that not all cells carry memory.  But so far there had been no proof that they don’t carry memory.

In my husband’s case, he actually had a reoccurring dream after his transplant.  And for as long as I’ve been with my hubby, he’s only been able to recall about five or six of his dreams.  This dream was that he’d wake up and there would be an old man staring him right in the face.  He kept having that dream for about three days.  Then we found out his donor was an older man. Now, the doctors told us that some of the medicine he was on could bring on weird dreams.

And yes, it could have been his meds, but . . .  I’m really doubtful.  I know it all sounds a little woo-woo, but aren’t there a lot of things in life that are hard to explain? You have a dream and it feels like a warning.  You pick up the phone before rings.  You think about an old friend you haven’t seen in years, and then you discover they died the day they came to your mind.   Do you believe in things that are hard to explain?

Winner!!

51WVbFHb5yLGail Dayton, you have won a copy of Don’t Close Your Eyes, my next romantic suspense, out in August. Please email me at christie@christie-craig.com with your postal address.

 

Am I Dreaming?

dreamsJust the other night I had a dream.  A bad one.  Okay, let me just call it what it was, a nightmare. I woke up, heart racing, unable to breath.  I was at an airport and someone had stolen my purse, my phone and my ticket.  I wasn’t even sure which airport or how I’d gotten there.  Or where I was going. Now, I had my clothes on, because I have those dreams too where I’m naked and afraid, but even with my clothes on in this dream, I got so upset. I felt completely lost.  Unsure of myself. I admit, I didn’t like that dream.

But not all dreams are bad. Several times in my life, I’ve dreamed that I was flying.  Man was that a high.  It made me feel unstoppable. Yes, dreams can be powerful. They can make us feel elated, unhappy or as with the airport dream, terrified. Did you know some statistics state that the average human spends six years of their life dreaming? Except for a few people with psychological problems, they claim everyone dreams. You may not remember your dreams, but you still dream.

Some people look to their dreams for signs, for something that can help or even warn them in their waking life. I kind of believe that.  I think the airport dream is about me feeling lost because I’ve been writing something different.  I feel a little unsure as to where I’m going with this new project.  So my takeaway from the dream is that I need to stop questioning myself.  Remind myself that it’s okay to try something new, maybe relook at my plot to confirm I’m on the right path.

playing-violin-in-dreamIn doing some research on dreams, I found some interesting facts.  Men and women dream differently? Men are more likely to have violent and aggressive dreams and they dream more about other men, about 70% of the dream characters in a man’s dream are men. On the other hand, women dream about women and men equally. See, we females believe in equal opportunity.

In a survey, it was found that between 18-38% of people have experienced at least one precognitive (future sight-acquisition of future information) dream and 70% experienced déjà vu. In addition, 63-98% of people believe that it’s possible to have a precognitive dream.

I have a friend, who is a psychologist who says when you dream of someone, that person is really you.  To interpret the dream, ask yourself how you view this person.  If she a little shy and timid, the dream is trying to tell you something about that part of you that is shy and timid.

51WVbFHb5yLI love using dreams in books.  In Don’t Close Your Eyes, my heroine has been having a reoccurring dream since she was about twelve.  But now that dream seems like it might be more than just a nightmare.  Maybe it’s not just a dream, but a memory.  Could she really have witnessed someone burying her cousin?

Excerpt From Don’t Close Your Eyes

Thu-thump.  Thu-thump.

The sounds came to Annie Lakes first. The sound of her young heart thudding in her chest. The night sounds of insects, owls, and unknown creatures scuttling around the woods at night.

The sound of…fear.

Then a panic-laced young voice echoed in the dark distance. “Faster, Annie.”

She couldn’t run faster. She couldn’t breathe.

She couldn’t…wake up.

She felt trapped in the blackness. Then the dark curtain lifted and she saw it all. The thicket of trees, the thorny brushes encroaching the dirt trail. Her pink Cinderella tennis shoes slapping against the dirt.Her small feet racing, rushing, running to someone to save her. Running away from someone who wouldn’t.

“Keep up!” The same voice, a young voice, echoed again. All Annie could now see of this person was snippets of a pink nightgown appearing and disappearing between the trees ahead. Too far ahead.

Alone.

She didn’t want to be alone.

She hugged the teddy bear, once white but now sticky and red stained.

“Don’t leave me!” Annie cried, unable to move faster. Her side pinched from running.Her leg muscles burned.

She wanted to scream.

Wanted to cry.

Wanted her daddy.

Thorns caught and snagged on the ruffle on her Smurf nightgown. The toe of her tennis shoe hit a stump.

She tripped. Went down. Hard. The bear hit the dirt before she did.

Small rocks ripped at the tender flesh on her palms. A jagged one sliced into her knee.The raw sting brought tears to her eyes. She could no longer hear the person in front of her, but the footfalls of the person chasing her grew closer. Louder.

She really wanted her daddy. Now.

Struggling to her feet, she let soft whimpers slip from her lips. She took one slow step, and someone grabbed her from behind. Grabbed her tight.

She screamed.

And screamed.

Annie’s own bloodcurdling cry echoing through her bedroom yanked her awake. No longer the frightened child, she was now a frightened woman, but she still wanted her daddy.

Swallowing air that felt solid, hand clutching her chest, she felt her heart slamming against her ribcage.

Realizing what this meant, she rolled over and buried her face in the pillow. The dream, the recurring nightmare was back. And she knew why.

Brittany Talbot.

She really needed to stop watching the news.


Don’t Close Your Eyes releases Aug. 28th, but you can pre-order it now at Amazon,  Barnes & Noble,  Katy Budget BooksBooks A Million and iBooks.

GIVEAWAY!!

Have you ever had a dream that warned you of something or revealed anything to you?  I’m giving away a copy of Don’t Close Your Eyes to one person who tells me about one of their dreams. (Sorry, this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only.)

What’s It Really Like?

the-endWhen I tell someone I just finished a book, I get the perfectly normal, acceptable response.  “Congratulations.  I imagine it feels good.”

And they imagine right. It does feel good, but there’s so many other emotions tied to crossing that threshold and finishing a story.  And while this may sound a little crazy, some of those emotions are, well, kind of melancholy. Sort of like having a friend move away or having a long vacation end.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a sense of fulfillment, and because I write happy endings, I feel the high of the all’s-well-that-ends-well. And because love plays a part in all of my books, I experience that sweet gooey feeling that love really can solve problems.  I feel that huge sense of success.  Of accomplishment.  And then I find those moments when I’ll stop and wonder, did I tie everything up?  Did I leave something out that I should have included?  I’ll recall a scene I imagined, but didn’t add.  And with every book I finish, I’ll spend some time worrying that my readers will not like it.

For me, writing a book is sort like having people move in with me for three or four months. I spend all those days and nights getting to know them.  They become my friends.  People I worry about.  They are in my head.  They are in my heart.  I’m working endlessly to get them to tell me their secrets.  Tell me what they are afraid of.  What makes them cry.  What makes them laugh.  I need to understand the ins and outs of why they act like they act and why they do what they do. And believe me when I say these people have problems.  Because yeah, I create those problems, because without problems, there are no stories.  And for however long it takes me to tell the story of these individuals, their problems, are my problems.

The word writer in print letter cases

The word writer in print letter cases

When I close my eyes at night, I think about them.  Sometimes I don’t sleep because I’m can’t stop thinking about them.  And when I wake up in the morning, right after I have my first sip of coffee, I’m thinking about them again.  What’s going to happen next? I’ll hear a line of dialogue from them when I’m making my oatmeal in the mornings.  Or when I’m in the bath tub, they love to spout out lines, and I struggle to keep that bit of info in my head until I can write it down.

As a writer, my job is to make the reader care.  To make a reader feel something.  And to do that I have to care, I have to feel something.  These people in my head have to feel real for me, so I can make them feel real to the reader.  This explains why I get a massage every two weeks.  Because these problems my character have and experience, I experience too.  I get shot at.  My mom had cancer.  I need a heart transplant.  I take on those problems as my own.

So often when I’m knee deep into a book, my husband will ask, “Where’s your head?”  Then he answers the question before I do. “You’re thinking about your book, aren’t you?”  Yeah, the people in my life often share me with the people in my mind.

So often when I’m living my life, I think about the characters that live cozied up in my cerebral storage area I’ve arranged for them.  So often when I’m alone in my study, those characters will crack me up.  I’ll laugh.  Then there are times I cry.  Sometimes I scare the crap out of myself.  Ahh, but I also I fall in love and I get to feel that glowing feeling that makes your chest feel huge.  I experience the wonder of sweet kisses, of those warm hugs.  I make best friends with people who make me laugh and who will be there for me no matter what.

Writer-once-upon-a-timeI help find these people resolutions.  In a C.C. Hunter or a Christie Craig book, I always find happy endings.  But after those endings, after a long nose-to-the-grindstone marathon to finish before my deadline, I feel a little lost.  The first day I wake up and no longer need to go spend time with Chloe and Cash, or Mark and Annie, I feel a little lost and anxious. I’m like oh, my, what am I supposed to do now?  Then I realize, oh yeah, it’s almost Mother’s Day and I need to go shopping for my mom.  That’s right, I have a real life that I can focus on.  And I do focus on it.  But I know it won’t take but a few days before I’ll have someone else move in and  they’ll redecorate their special spot in my mind, I’ll discover their problems, their quirkiness, and they’ll become part of my life for the next few months.

Yeah, writing and finishing a book is an amazing thing.  It’s therapy, it’s stressful, it’s powerful, it’s humbling. It’s what I love to do.  Sometimes it takes me away from my own problems, and sometimes it helps me solve them.

For anyone out there who has ever felt the desire to write their own story, to put pen to paper, hands to the computer, I encourage you to do it.  Find the time, the courage, find a part of yourself, and take a journey that only another writer understands.  If you aren’t a writer, pick up a book and lose yourself for a few hours in a world that’s not your own.

Readers Coffeehouse Facebook Chat

Recently, I sat down with my friend and fellow author, Laura Drake, to chat about This Heat of Mine for Readers Coffeehouse Facebook Chat. I wanted to share our chat with you.

What emotion/human condition did you explore with this book?

That’s a big question. And it comes with a big answer. The story was inspired by a personal experience. My husband needed a kidney. Fast. The five-year bout of dialysis was killing his heart. Killing him. I watched him lose almost sixty pounds. I knew he was dying. He knew he was, too. By a miracle we got a call that there was a kidney available. After the surgery, he started having a reoccurring dream. Normally, he never remembered his dreams, so this was odd. His dream was that he’d wake up and find an old man staring him right his face. He had that dream about fifteen times during the first three days. It gave us chills when we learned it was a sixty-five-year-old man who had given him the kidney. Afterwards, it was still an uphill climb. My husband said to me once, that it was odd to know that someone had to die to give him life.

I borrowed everything he went through, even the dream, when I wrote about seventeen-year-old Leah, who needs a new heart. When she gets it, she’s starts having dreams. Dreams that don’t belong to her. Eventually, she connects with the identical twin of the donor, only to learn he’s having the same dreams. The police say the donor’s death was a suicide, but the dreams tell another story. These two young adults reach out to each other and try to find the truth, while they find love, hope, and joy in the midst of grief and survivor’s guilt.

What authors (living or dead) would you love to invite over for coffee?

E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web. And I’d kick his butt for killing off Charlotte. I cried so hard, and I hate spiders.

If you didn’t have writing ability, what other artistic talent would you want?

I’d be a stand up comic. As Christie Craig I’ve written fifteen humorous, romantic suspense novels. Humor shows up in all my books. I love making people laugh. Yes, I won’t lie, This Heart of Mine will also make you cry, probably more than once, but I promise you some chuckles along the way, and an ending you can live with. I don’t want anyone calling me back from the dead for coffee and giving me heck. LOL.

How would you describe your book? Upmarket? Beach Read? Is there romance?

This is a hard one. First, everything I write has a romance in it. But even in my humorous romance novels, it’s always more than just about the romance. I like to write about relationships. Relationships between friends, parents, and siblings. I always add humor to my work and for some, that tends to make it fit the beach read category. However, This Heart of Mine is the closest thing I’ve ever written that would fit in the upmarket genre. There are so many themes about love—holding on to it, and learning to let it go. About moving past grief, living your life to the fullest, and about following your heart—even if that heart hasn’t always belonged to you.

What were your top 3 reads of the past year?

Letters to the Lost by Bridget Kemmerer. I loved it. I’m reading one now that I can hardly put down, it’s Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Pen. Both of those are issue themed young adult books that also have a touch of romance. Then I read and loved All The Dead Girls by Rita Herron. It’s a romantic suspense. I read all over the place. I love Susan E. Phillips, Lori Wilde. I love stores that make me care, that make me laugh, that make me fall in love. Stories that make me believe life is journey worth taking.

If you haven’t read This Heart of Mine, you can order your copy today at AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks.