Eight Questions with P.H.T. Bennet, Author of 'Raising Sleepy Stones'

P.H.T. Bennet began exploring his dreams when he was a child and has never bothered to stop. He had the good luck to have two daughters, Juliette and Paola, who not only served as the inspirations for DeeDee and Kiva, the main characters of Raising Sleeping Stones, but also helped him turn their family dreamwork sessions into this book. His lucky streak grew when he married his lovely wife, Mim, who tolerates his turning on a light in the middle of the night to write down ever-crazier dreams and talking about them in the morning as long as he lets her sleep in, first. His favorite dreams involve flying, visiting the dead, and replaying nightmares until they reveal their secrets.

Pratt’s latest projects are editing Book Two of the Orora Crona Chronicles and planning a virtual summer dreaming camp with other dream authors.

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About the Book:

Like every kid in Solasenda, Kiva Stone has been far too busy training for one of the five town guilds
to think about something as useless as dreaming. But when she and her sister DeeDee uncover a mysterious plot to get rid of them, their only hope lies with a shadowy group of people who wield unimaginable powers drawn from their dreams. As the girls escape with them up the Varruvyen river, they start learning secret Dreaming Way techniques that have been forbidden for centuries. But how can they learn enough to stand against the enemies chasing them? The answer lies in the shattered history of Orora Crona, the lost Valley of Dreams, and whoever can piece it together first will rule for centuries to come.

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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 inspiration for this book came from the recurring nightmares that both my daughters were having many years ago. They were losing a lot of sleep, so I was, too. After this had happened a few times, I showed them how they could change their nightmares, make them less scary, and they got results so quickly that they begged me to teach them more. Soon, they were flying, breathing underwater, even lucidly changing their dreams while they were happening. My oldest, Paola, told me I really had to write some of these lessons down so that other kids could do what they were doing. She was obsessed with the Harry Potter books- we all were –and I thought, “What if there were an adventure series that was not only fun to read, but that would actually help kids do their own type of magic in their dreams?” So I started creating stories about two sisters, Kiva and DeeDee Stone, who were based on my daughters’ personalities, but had never dreamt before. And that’s how the book began.

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 was really, really hard, not only because it was my first novel, but also because I wanted to create a whole new world where I could play out all the ideas I had about dreaming and dreamwork. The second and third books are challenging in different ways, but much easier to conceive and start now that I’ve created that world. In terms of tips, I would recommend that young writers NOT do what I did at first, which was try to bring to life a vision that would require at least three books to realize. They would do much better to start with shorter forms and to just crank out  a lot of stories to get the bad ideas and the bad writing behind them. You need to log in a certain number of bad pages before the good ones emerge. I created thousands!

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

I self-published because I had such a crazy idea for making the app with all these new features like a complete Story Score that no publishers could wrap their heads around it. I’m really proud of the book and the app that my team created, but it was exhausting! We never could have done it without all our Kickstarter backers (thanks, guys!) and if I could do it all over again, I might start with a traditional publisher before moving to self-pub, as I am not the world’s greatest marketer, and unless you know how to market your book, no one will know it even exists, no matter how fantastic it is.

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

Yes- I thought the book’s being published would be the end of that book. Instead, I learned, as so many have learned before me, that it’s just the beginning of the marketing process. That was a tough lesson. Now that I’ve learned it, I’m much more prepared for what the sequel needs to rise above the crowd of new books.

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

I’m working on two. First the Battle for the EverSleepers, which is the sequel. That’s being edited and will be released sometime between late 2019 and early 2017. I’m very excited about that because it’s where Kiva and DeeDee start discovering what they and others can do when they use their dreaming powers. Then I’m plotting and writing pieces of the next book in the series when I find seeds that can’t fully flower in the second book.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

That in addition to being a fantasy-adventure story, it’s also a manual for how to dream better. Kiva and DeeDee grow up in a town where no one dreams or discusses dreams, so they have to start from zero when they run away from home with the DreamKeepers. If the reader starts trying the basic steps that the Stone sisters do in the first book, they should start remembering more dreams very quickly, and having really good ones soon after.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

That we are all so much more than the grades we get in school, the job we have, the family we are born into, but that we don’t all get the encouragement or chance to discover that. Our dreams hold the keys to what we’re capable of, and if we start listening to them, anything is possible.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I love hearing from readers what they are doing and discovering in their dreams, so if any of them want to share their dreams or experiments, email me at phtbennet@raisingstones.com or find me on Twitter at @phtbennet.

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