Interview with James DiBenedetto, author of The Dream Series

J.J. (James) DiBenedetto was born in Yonkers, New York. He attended Case Western Reserve university, where as his classmates can attest, he was a complete nerd. Very little has changed since then.

He currently lives in
Arlington, Virginia with his beautiful wife and their cat (who has thoroughly trained them both). When he's not writing, James works in the direct marketing field, enjoys the opera, photography and the New York Giants, among other interests.

The "Dreams" series is James' first published work.

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About the Book:

Title: The Dream Series
Author: J.J. Dibenedetto
Publisher: Writing Dreams
Pages: 280 (each book)
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense

Sara Barnes thought her life was perfectly ordinary – until the night she began stepping into other people’s dreams.

Follow Sara as she learns to cope with this extraordinary gift (or curse) in the Dream Series:

 It’s bad enough that, thanks to her supernatural talent, Sara is learning more than she ever needed to know about her friends and classmates, watching their most secret fantasies whether she wants to or not.  Much worse are the other dreams, the ones she sees nearly every night, featuring a strange, terrifying man who commits unspeakable crimes.  Now Sara wonders if she’s the only witness to a serial killer – and the only one who knows when and where he’s going to strike next.

Medical school and life as a newlywed would be enough by themselves for anybody to handle.  But Sara’s got another problem – her dreams have started up again.  Almost everyone at the medical school is dreaming about the death of the school’s least popular teacher, Dr. Morris, and once again, Sara finds herself in the role of unwilling witness to a murder before it happens.  But this time, there are too many suspects to count, and it doesn’t help matters that she hates Dr. Morris every bit as much as any of his would-be murderers do.

Sara thought she had made peace with her dreaming talent, but she’s got a surprise coming: her four-year-old daughter has inherited it, too.

Unraveling a mystery with lives on the line is difficult enough under the best of circumstances.  But when Sara has to view all the evidence through the eyes – and dreams - of a toddler, it may be an impossible task.

For More Information

  • The Dream Series is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

The basic idea came from asking a question: Why do regular people in mystery stories try to solve the crime themselves instead of going to the police like most reasonable people would do?  The answer I came up with was: if the only evidence for the crime was in their heads.  If they were seeing the crimes through the minds – the dreams – of the criminals.  In that case, what could you tell the police?  That’s where the idea of someone who could step into other people’s dreams was born, and the heroine of the books, Sara, was born with it.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It honestly wasn’t difficult to write.  All of the main elements of the story came together right at the start – the character of Sara, her best friend Beth and her soon-to-be-boyfriend Brian, the college setting, and the problem Sara would be faced with. 

The one thing I did have trouble with was the point of view.  Originally the book was written in the third person, but I ended up rewriting it completely from Sara’s point of view, and that made it so much better.  If there’s anything I’d tell other writers, it’s that every story wants to be told in its own way – it might be a different point of view, a different writing style, and once you figure that out, the story will come to you a lot more easily.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self published.  I looked at the odds of even getting looked at by a big publisher, and I decided it wasn’t worth the time or the heartache to try.  And as much as the marketing aspect of self publishing can be frustrating, I like having control over everything myself.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Primarily that there actually were people out there who would not only buy, but enjoy my books.  I’m proud of them, and I was confident they were as good as I could make them, but until I released them out into the world, I didn’t know if anybody else would agree. 

Ten books and nearly 150,000 downloads later, I think I can safely say that there are a lot of people who do agree!

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I just released the tenth and final book of the Dream Series, DREAM WEDDING.  So Sara’s store is complete (at least for now).  At the moment, I’ve got two projects I’m working on.  One is a straightforward romance, and the other is an adventure story that’s along the same lines as “Romancing the Stone” (at least, I hope it will be when it’s done).  I’m hoping to have at least one of them out by March or April of 2016.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

My newest favorite spot is the Clean indie Reads group on Facebook.  It’s an incredibly supportive group of writers and readers.  I also get a lot out of Kboards – both advice and moral support.

Q: What’s your nightly ritual before retiring for the night?

Nothing very exciting.  Feed the cat one last time for the evening, make sure the door is locked and all the lights are out, run the dishwasher, say my nightly prayers, and then hope that the cat will let me actually sleep through the night!

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
I didn’t write DREAM STUDENT or any of the other Dream Series books to get a message across.  But some of my beliefs definitely made their way into the books.  One big issue is power and responsibility – the idea that people who are given extraordinary power have to exercise it carefully.  That comes across in many different ways over the ten books of the series.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

First of all, thank you!

Second, thanks to everyone who’s bought and read any of my books!

Third, if you want to read books that combine suspense, romance, humor and heart with a unique supernatural twist, please take a look at DREAM STUDENT and the rest of the series.  I think you’ll really enjoy them!
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