Home > An Interview with Michael Hibbard
If you’re beginning to despair over the vampire romances clogging the shelves of your local book shop and would like nothing more than to read something a bit more challenging; a series to lose yourself in, say, then hold onto your knickers, because there’s a new dark fantasy series set to kick off in September called the Waking Dream.
The author, Michael Hibbard, will explain more in the interview but, but in brief, there is a cycle similar to Buddhism enlightenment between Sleepers and Dreamers and Immortals. Most people are Sleepers. Dreamers are Sleepers who awaken and realise they can affect reality (Matrix-style), and Immortals are Dreamers who realise they are Immortal. There’s also time travel and jumping in and out of bodies and all sorts of other fantastic (in both senses of the word) things happening. There’s philosophy and religion and intellectual things, as well. All part of your brain will be engaged, is what I’m saying.
Hibbard kindly agreed to answer a few questions.
When is the first book in the series coming out and where are you in that process?
The first book will be released on September 22, 2013. I’ve chosen this date because it is the first day of Autumn and Devlin is an Autumn tale. Right now, the cover has been completed, the copy edits have been submitted to the publisher by my editor, and we are on target to have the book out on time. My collection of short stories Immortal Memories will be released on Halloween of 2013. Both books have illustrations that I’ve done over the years — some of which you can see on the Waking Dream Website and on my Instagram account .
It’s a nine-part series–how plotted out are each book?
Every single book has been carefully designed to fit into a great whole. The entire plot has been outlined, and many of the books have already been started. The entire series is broken down into three trilogies — The Transformation Trilogy, The Shadow Years Trilogy and the final Trilogy is named, but it would be a spoiler for me to divulge its name at this time.
The universe your books inhabit is…the size of a universe. How long have you been creating it, so to speak. The dynamics of it–how it fits together?
The Waking Dream is my interpretation of the universe, more than just a literary interpretation, but a literal interpretation. The ideas for the Waking Dream began back in 1995 when I was running a free-form role-playing channel on IRC (Internet Relay Chat). The focus was to create an interactive story with a framework that anyone could interact with. I set the storyline and others just interacted with what I set forth. At one point I had over 80 players engaged in the world itself. At the time, I was a freelance web designer, which afforded me a great deal of time for me to role-play, sometimes for 10 to 12 hours at a time. Waking Dream was intended to become a game, because when you come to understand the nature of the Waking Dream, you realize that life really is nothing more than a game.
I have spent over 15 years documenting the dynamics, studying world religions, philosophy, quantum mechanics and cosmology to make my world as “real” as possible. I want people to believe that they have the power to change their world through their own Weirdness — their own individuality. The Weirdness comes from the term Quantum Weirdness which I have philosophically pondered my entire life. Weirdness is the product of a primordial force which has been talked about in so many religions, philosophies and science. I liken it to the Tao, Dark Energy, the Holy Spirit, the Force, the Field and the Akashic Record. It is the source of all magick that has been diluted by the over-population of our planet.
There are groups of people, Sleepers, Dreamers, Immortals, etc. Give us a brief description of each one.
This has been the most arduous aspect of selling the concept of the Waking Dream. It can be offensive to some, and enlightening to others.
Dreamers are those of us who have the ability to affect the Waking Dream, and have the ability to use their Weirdness — their own form of magick. And Weirdness can be exhibited in many different ways — telepathy, empathy, second sight, fortune-telling, alchemy, wicca, witchcraft. It is up to the individual to find their Weirdness. A Dreamer is an immortal spirit that begins its existence in my form of the afterlife — or what I call the InBetweenLife. They first begin as a consciousness that coalesces like a star does. Once they become self aware, they choose a Sleeper to inhabit and assume their identity once they’ve made the connection. They can assume the identity of any sleeper at any stage in life. But once they have assumed this identity, they forget all of their previous lives, and begin the journey towards Awakening. A Dreamer must Awaken to begin using their Weirdness once more — I like to think of it as learning how to drive the vehicle they’ve just purchased. Only 1-2 % of Earth’s population are Dreamers. And there are Dreamers all across the universe, but once a Dreamer chooses a planet, they are bound to the planet until it is uninhabitable. This is an important aspect of the series, because one of the Prime Immortals is determined to leave the planet, and thinks that they have found a way to do so.
Immortals are Dreamers who have reached the most sublime level of existence which is akin to enlightenment. Once they have realized they are an eternal being, they remember all of their lives and can draw from their past lives experiences. This allows them to command the Weirdness much more effectively. There are Celestial immortals of which there are 6 who were have been immortal since they first formed in the Spaces Between — the Governors of the Dream so to speak. The series focuses on the 5 Prime Immortals who are bound to Earth — along with the other lesser immortals who are not nearly as old or powerful as the 5, or the Celestials. The Waking Dream will start over when all Dreamers have recognized their Immortality. Immortals can inhabit Dreamers (with their permission) or any Sleeper at will.
Sleepers are the rest of the population. The analogy is that the Dreamers and Immortals are the architects of the Dream and the Sleepers are the ones who do the bidding of the Dreamers and Immortals, unable to use their Weirdness — though they are entirely made of Weirdness. They are those who have no will to change the world. They simply live in the world. This is not to discount them as living beings, because all living beings are sacred under the Creator, however, they do not have an active role in the Waking Dream — other than their over-population has become the genesis for the Transformation of the Dream. Each Sleeper requires Weirdness to exist, and there is only so much Weirdness available to our world. This is how I’ve accounted for Magick leaving our planet. But, one of the Immortals wishes to change all that.
And is it our universe or a parallel universe or a completely different universe?
I like to think this is our universe. If you look around, really look, some of the things I have posited in the novels and in the Libellus Somnium (The Little Book of Dreams) are simple truths. We have simply forgotten that life is to be enjoyed and luxuriated in — we shouldn’t have the strife that we do. In short, I want this to be our universe.
Justin (The Crier’s) blog is a fantastic introduction to this expansive world you’ve created. Often, no matter how well an author knows their characters, once they start writing them, they learn more about them–has keeping Justin’s blog changed what you’ve known about him and the universe he inhabits?
I have to chuckle when I think about this question, because I’ve learned more about myself than I have about the universe by writing Justin. Justin has multiple personality disorder — as all Dreamers have a mental illness of some variety that allows them to suspend their disbelief. We have been herded into a belief system, whether it be religious or philosophical. What I have found by writing the Way of the Weird — Justin’s Blog — is that we all have many aspects of ourselves that we should explore to better understand our goals and dreams in the universe.
The Crier’s Blog has allowed me to slowly allow people to accept some of the ideas I am presenting, and force them to think, rather than just tell them some fantasy tale. The fact that we can think, create and exist is in of itself Weirdness. We fight against gravity and build amazing things. But we’ve forgotten that we are all One — we all come from the Spaces Between, the realm of the Weird, and we will return there again and again. Justin has become my prophet to overcome fear because it is only when we can overcome fear that we can truly begin to live. It does not matter if we die tomorrow, as long as we enjoyed today.
And yes, Justin’s Blog has allowed me to refine the aspects of the Waking Dream, and expand on it via his postings of the Libellus Somnium. The Book of Seers was an entirely new plot line that came out of the blog itself.
The iconography is interesting, almost Egyptian–did you design those and what do they each represent?
I and my son designed the iconography for all of the Waking Dream. The Eye of One, the most prominent aspect of the series, is a primitive variation of the All Seeing Eye which has its beginnings in Egypt. One is the first Immortal and he is the one that the Dreamers of Devlin pay homage to. The other icons are all very Egyptian, because they were one of the most enlightened race on the planet before their demise. One of the oldest immortals in the series is Shemhazai, who realized his Immortality at the time of Akhenaten and Nefertiti — who first introduced the concept of one God to the peoples of Egypt.
I wanted the icons to be simple, yet powerful in their meaning. I could tell you what each one means, but that would be a spoiler. They will be explained as the series progresses. Each of the Immortals has an icon because they have their own followers who wear the icons as signs of reverence.
All of the icons, and illustrations are mine, other than the new cover designs by the publisher.
You’ve obviously done a great deal of research and reading over a long period of time, will you be posting any sort of bibliography for people interested in learning more?
Yes, I plan to set up a page on Way of the Weird that will detail all of the books I’ve used to create this philosophy. There are so many that books are stacked all over my office — my sanctuary. But here are some key books that I’ve used to formulate the Waking Dream Universe:
— The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury — Science Fiction
— God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert — Science Fiction
— Illusions by Richard Bach — Literature
— The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery — Literature
— Meditations by Marcus Aurelius — Philosophy
— All the Works of Poe and Lovecraft — Literature
— The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald — Literature
— The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner — Southern Gothic
— The Metaphysics by Aristotle — Philosophy
— The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene — Science
— All of the Books by Michio Kaku the physicist — Science
— The Theory of Relativity by Einstein — Science
— All the works of Nicola Tesla — Science
— This is it by Alan Watts — Zen
— Various Works of Robert Monroe — Metaphysics
— The Bible — Religion
— The Kaballah — Religion
— The Torah — Religion
— Of Good and Evil — Nietzsche
This is just to name the most influential. I could go on because over fifteen years I have collected a massive library.
There’s a bit of Existentialism and Satanism (of the Laveyan variety) in the universe of the books. Of being self-aware in a herd of those content to like what the media tells them to. And in Satanism, forgetfulness of past orthodoxies is one of the Satanic sins. You clearly pay a great deal of attention to past belief systems. Were Lavey or the Existentialists on your list of reading?
I have read Lavey, and I respect his philosophical perspective, but I wholly reject the concept of heaven and hell. That is not to say that there isn’t good and evil — my dexter and sinister and of course, the Beast. And the Waking Dream is dripping with existentialism. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were my biggest influences from an existentialist perspective. But, there is also a great deal of stoicism in my writings.
I was fortunate enough to attend a Jesuit College in Pennsylvania, which is where I lived longer than here in Virginia. I was also fortunate enough to have an exorcist as a teacher and friend. We cannot forget the things that have gone before us. I have looked back as far in time as I can from a philosophical and religious perspective and all I see are patterns. Patterns that have persisted up until today. It is time for something new, something unlike the world has ever seen before. At some point religion, philosophy and science must converge, or we as a civilization will collapse. We can see evidence of this with every news story. I want people to see that they can live and be happy, its just a matter of accepting that the mere fact you exist is wonderful in and of itself with no further interpretation required.
Lavey also completely rejects the idea of heaven and hell. He didn’t believe in God or Satan, knowing them to be sides of the same coin.
In the universe of the Waking Dream, is there any sort of punishment for wrong-doing? Is the average Sleeper told they’ll be reincarnated as a dung beetle or are they kept in line by threats of everlasting torment in some hell dimension, etc?
The concept of religion was created by the second Tier of Immortals, the Magician and the High Priestess. This was created to keep the Sleepers in lives. Sleepers are empty vessels until they are filled by a Dreamer.The Immortals have a different way of dealing with wrong doing. To keep power in check, and keep an Immortal from running amok, the Ritual of Banishment was created and given to the earth-bound Immortals. Any Immortal on a higher or equal tier of Immortality can perform the ritual, if they see it as necessary. Once banished, the Immortal’s essence is scattered in the Spaces Between and it takes a century to reform and thus return to the Waking Dream. This is a huge part of the plot of the first book. And it is hinted at in the So Long But Never Good-Bye story. As for Dreamers, causality handles all infractions against the Logos of the Weird — The five principles that guide the Dreamers in their quest to understand themselves and to attain Immortality. The five principles are: Coexistence, Uncertainty, Causality, Self and Respect. And this is enforced by the Beast — the Eater of Sins — who exacts justice through the eye for an eye vehicle.
I also enjoy learning about world religions for the patterns, as you say. Humans seem wired to believe and do the same things ad infinitum –and because they don’t study world religions they think they’re the first ones to come up with whatever belief system.
When you say that you want people to see that they can live and be happy if they just accept their existence is wonderful are you saying that thinking too much is what makes people unhappy? (Not that I’m disagreeing–too much navel-gazing just means you know far too much about your own belly button lint.) But if so, how is that different from other ‘feel-good’ movements from, say, the 60s? And how does that mesh with the proscription of ultimate self-awareness of Existentialism?
No, I’m not saying thinking too much makes people unhappy. I’m saying that people have focused on the wrong things. It’s much different than the feel-good movements. It’s about self exploration, understanding harmony in your life, and being self-aware as well as outwardly aware of those around you. It’s more of a stoic perspective than existential. If we can simply learn to enjoy the simplicity of existence and stop worrying about how much money we have, or things we have, or our status, titles, ad nauseum .
At the end of your existence, whether its in the Waking Dream or our current world, the only thing you can ever take with you, no matter how you try, are the thoughts and experiences that define you. I am not writing my books to be rich or to buy things. I am writing my books to get people to see that they must learn to shed their pettiness and that we are on a terrible path. The only way we as a civilization will survive is if we can work as one world and remove the imaginary lines that separate countries, cities and neighborhoods.
At the end of the Dream, we are all One.
Michael, thank you so much for your time. Good luck with the edits and I look forward to reading Devlin!
If you’d like more info, Waking Dream Online is about the series and The Way of the Weird is a blog kept by one of the characters, Justin the Crier at Twilight. The about page of that site introduces the concept behind the books and is the best place ta begin to get an idea of the scope of the universe.