It wasn't Brent's fault if he was stuck in the form of Jake the Owl, at least he didn't think it was as he sat on a branch preening despondently. The threads of all his stories had become inextricably muddled in his owlish head. To think that he'd once prided himself on being a storyteller. His stories had become adventures and some of those adventures had become nightmares, and now he was stuck with them. He'd flown in search of his friend and lover, Mia. She'd been dragged off by a band of thugs just when it was time for them all to return to their world. Only Sally, their mutual friend and lover, had made it back from the world of the Reaches to their home town of Avan. Hearing her story, despite the dangers she'd had to face, her friends suggested Sally teach them to travel to the Dream Realm and beyond to the Reaches. The idea appealed to everybody. Not that Sally knew how to get back to the Reaches, but the idea of a 'dream class' as they called it pleased her and, above all, she wanted to return to the world where her newly-found half-sister lived and where her two friends had so abruptly disappeared.
Not wishing to pursue the route traced out for him by grammar school and university as a mathematician, Alan McCluskey turned to English, which he taught to foreign language students in France and Switzerland on a part-time basis for many years. His favourite teaching method was role-playing often with quite unexpected and not so catastrophic results. One pupil once confessed, with typical candour and ambiguity, that he had taught her the creative value of madness. He attended fine arts school for a while as he continued to teach, studying cinema and video. He went on to make a number of works of video art shown in different festivals around Europe and directed some ten short television programmes about artists. He was one of the three organisers of an international video festival in Geneva, he founded a video art association and created a short-lived European bilingual magazine about electronic arts. He enjoyed the challenge of organising large-scale networks, coordinating a worldwide network of companies selling Internet domain names, for example. In a quite different sphere, he created “The Hundred Venues” with friends: a network of a hundred screening venues for electronic arts across Europe. For a year he played at being the CEO of an Internet start up. Apart from drafting business plans and convincing investors to give them five million, it was one of those rare times in his life that he systematically wore a suit and a tie in a vain attempt to appear different from the geeks who went about the office barefoot. Almost all of his activities have involved writing. Although professionally he mostly had to write reports and studies, he tried to create occasions to adopt what he called the Martian perspective, which entailed questioning the self-evident. He has brought that questioning perspective, along with a passion for images and what they can reveal, to novel writing and artwork together with a long-standing fascination for the dream world and the magic of fantasy.