NORTH SIOUX CITY | In his daydreams, Raymond Semple can be anything he wants to be.
He might imagine himself a superhero trying to save Earth from a giant asteroid; a James Bond-like secret agent battling an evil mastermind; or a scientist seeking the Fountain of Youth.
You see, Raymond Semple has the same vivid imagination that many 17-year-old boys have in the months leading up to high school graduation.
"Raymond isn't really daydreaming his way through life," Bob Lawrence explained. "He's merely discovering his life's path in his own terms."
Indeed, Lawrence, the author of "Daydreamer: The Amazing Adventures of Raymond Semple," can relate to his titular character.
"I grew up in a middle-class Atlanta household in the years following World War II," he remembered. "When I was Raymond's age, I wanted to become an important TV anchorman like CBS' Douglas Edwards or a globe-trotting reporter like Dan Rather."
Eventually, Lawrence's dreams did come true. He was the longtime anchorman for KCAU-TV before becoming a mass communications professor at Morningside College. After that, he became the owner of a Dakota Dunes-based public relations firm.
"My dream came true early in life," he said. "That's why watching Raymond dodge and weave in and out of trouble is so much fun for me as a writer."
I can totally see how fun it is writing for a character like Raymond. He can literally daydream his way into any adventure, right?
"Yes, and he always wins. He's always in control."
Well, actually Raymond isn't the person in control. You are. As the writer behind all of Raymond's adventures, you're the one who is calling the shots.
"That's a really big distinction. When I was a journalist, I covered war, floods, the farm crisis and every other story that came my way. It was my job to be on the scene but I couldn't control the outcome. As a fiction writer, I now get to control the outcome."
Do you ever suffer from writer's block?
"Never. On my computer, I have a folder entitled 'fictional ideas.' I have more ideas than I'll ever need. If I hit a roadblock in a story, I'll devise a number of options. These options will often lead down a different road that I ordinarily wouldn't take. It's great."
By the way, do you still daydream the way Raymond Semple daydreams?
"Not anymore. When you're a 17-year-old, you have your entire life in front of you. Anything and everything is possible. As you grow older, you achieve many of the things you imagine in daydreams or, at least, you're close to seeing them come to fruition."
So, you no longer daydream about becoming a secret agent like James Bond, right?
"I still daydream about winning the lottery but I think my days of battling criminal masterminds have come and gone."