Twelve-year-old Maren loves working in her family’s dream shop where she can hand-craft any dream imaginable. The shop has only one rule. Dreams cannot be given to a person without their consent. Maren has no problem with this—until her sister has an accident that leaves her in a coma. Maren’s certain she can cure Hallie with a few well-chosen dreams. Figuring nobody will find out, she slips Hallie a flying dream.
When her sister smiles and laughs for a few seconds, Maren is sure her cure is working. But a strange new customer from the shop has been following Maren. And she’s laid the perfect trap to blackmail Maren into creating custom dreams for her…but they aren’t just dreams, they are nightmares. As things get more dangerous for Maren, she has to make a choice: protect her family or protect the unknown dreamers out there from her family’s magic.
Publication: January 12th 2021 by Sourcebooks Young Readers
Why did you want to write The Nightmare Thief?
I was actually writing YA exclusively before I started The Nightmare Thief, and when I first had the idea to write a story about a dream store, I asked my agent what she thought of it, and she said she thought it’d work better as middle grade. Given that I was reading tons of MG with my kids, it felt like a pretty easy transition, and I also borrowed from the styles of some of the more classic MG books that I read as a kid. I was surprised by how much I loved writing middle grade, and I love getting my kids’ feedback and ideas for my books.
Do you have a reoccurring dream that has stayed/influenced with you?
I don’t have a recurring dream so much as recurring locations that my dreams take place in. There are a few cities and buildings and neighborhoods that I regularly dream about, and I feel like I know my way around them like they’re real, even though they’re 100% imaginary. It’s a little bizarre, to be honest!
What do you want readers to take away from your books?
With The Nightmare Thief, I want readers to know that it’s OK to make mistakes, especially when you’ve made a bad decision for a good reason. And that you always have a choice, even when it feels like you’re trapped. I hope they see how Maren finds her own inner strength and they feel empowered to find their own.
How do you brighten your day?
I love going for long walks while listening to music. I don’t care if it’s sunny or raining or freezing cold — I always feel better when I’m walking and afterwards. And not only does it help with my mood, but it’s also excellent for coming up with story ideas or working through complicated plot problems. I’m also a fan of dark chocolate, strong tea, and snuggling my cats.
Finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
I feel like I get asked a lot about my protagonists, but not as much about my villains. For The Nightmare Thief, I had so much fun writing the evil Ms Malo (not her real name, which is revealed later in the book). When my daughter was five, she was obsessed with Millicent Clyde, who is the villain in the first Paddington movie. Millicent is so crafty and ruthless, and I was fascinated by how compelling that was, to just let a character run wild with their ambition and evilness, especially as a woman. I’d say that Millicent and Mrs. Coulter from the Golden Compass were my top two inspirations for Ms Malo, which is sort of funny because Nicole Kidman played both characters in the movies. But in my head, Ms Malo doesn’t look like Nicole Kidman!
Visit her online at nicolelesperance.com.