September 28, 2020

Conestoga College alumnus Wesley Butler made his dreams a reality. Literally.

Having experienced lucid dreaming and describing the experience as “powerful,” Butler turned his fascination with creating a dream world into a debut novel.

“I’ve always been interested in dreams myself, having experienced a few lucid dreams. You feel powerful, in a way, like you’re in charge of your surroundings,” said Butler.

“I knew I wanted to tell a story that alternated between a dream world and reality, with some twists thrown here and there. Just when you think the story is going a certain way, something unexpected happens.”

Cover art for Wesley Butler’s debut novel Passage to Portrainia. Photo via Goodreads

Passage to Portrainia, Butler’s 180-page debut novel, follows three teenagers who stumble upon a world that can only be accessed through their subconscious during lucid dreaming.

Butler grew up in Cambridge, Ont., where he spent most of his high school years writing Nintendo fan fiction.

The characters of the novel are loosely based on people with whom he grew up; people who were just as creative and enjoyed fantasy as much as he did.

“I wondered what it would be like if we encountered a real place that resembled what we’d read about or watched in movies,” said Butler. “Thus, the concept of childhood friends learning about another world was born.”

Butler later studied journalism at Conestoga, which helped strengthen his skills as a writer.

“The curriculum challenges you to research, tell a compelling story to inform or educate a readership, and use multiple print, digital and broadcast platforms in real-world settings outside the classroom,” said Butler.

“Collectively, these skills have taught me to think before I write by researching all the facts to ensure I’m presenting accuracy while exuding creativity.”

Despite having a clear idea for his novel and the writing skills to execute it, Passage to Portrainia went through five unpublished drafts before it was published through the Amazon Kindle self-publishing service.

Having gone through so many drafts from 2008 to when it was published in late 2018, Butler encourages any aspiring authors to take their time.

“Keep writing and never stop. Try not to set deadlines for yourself; things will happen when they’re ready,” said Butler. “I’ve found that pushing yourself to write a story never works. It has to come naturally.”

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