I welcome J.J. (James) DiBenedetto to Author Wednesday. James is the author of the paranormal romance Dream Series. The seven books in this series are James’ first published work, but it’s a prolific batch of fiction. The titles: Dream Student, Dream Doctor, Dream Child, Dream Family, Waking Dream, Dream Reunion, and Dream Home.
Hello, James. It’s nice to have you here today. You’ve written seven books in your Dream Series, which is very impressive. I wonder if you convey the same messages or themes in all of your books.
I didn’t really set out to preach or to convey any particular message, but as the books have gone on, I see my beliefs coming through. I think the books emphasize the importance of compassion, and empathy, and a healthy respect for the power you have (whatever kind of power that is) and the importance of taking responsibility for your actions, no matter the cost.
That’s interesting. I do that with my own work, and before I know it a message emerges, which conveys my own belief system. Do you have a favorite character that you created?
Sara, the heroine of the Dream Series – I couldn’t have written seven (and counting!) books about her if I didn’t love her. What I like best about her is that while she is the heroine, and she does save the day, she’s definitely flawed and very human. She gets jealous and angry and has very irrational moments. And while she always tries to do the right thing, she sometimes has a lot of trouble figuring out what that actually is.
I bet you have fun putting her in new situations and deciding how she will react. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
I really loved one review of Dream Doctor, which takes place during Sara’s first month of medical school, where the reviewer wondered if I was a doctor or otherwise involved in medicine, because the book rang so true. That was high praise for the research I did, because other than going to the doctor myself when I’m sick, I’m about as far as you can get from that!
What’s your one sentence pitch for the series?
“What if you could see everyone else’s dreams?” – that’s the pitch for the entire series, really.
That’s an intriguing concept. No wonder you’ve written seven books with a character you love and a great idea. How long do you estimate it took you to take the series from an idea to a finished, published?
Fifteen years or so! I had the first idea in 1997 or so, and I wrote a (pretty bad) novel-length first draft. Then, I rewrote that to a slightly better second draft. And then it just sat there on my computer for a really long time, until, in 2012, a friend sold her first novel to a publisher, and I said to myself, “Hey, if she can do it, so can I!” I dusted off the old draft, rewrote it again–changing the whole thing from third person POV to first person, which was what the story needed all along, only I hadn’t realized it for such a long time–and then the next three books followed, one right after the other.
Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in one of the books
My favorite scene in Dream Student is a quiet and touching scene between Sara and her father, where she admits to him how much she loves her new boyfriend.
Let’s talk about your writing life. If you listen to music while you’re writing, what is it?
Usually classical music, and always something I’m very familiar with. If it’s music with lyrics, or something new, I get distracted too easily – it has to be something that’s just “there” so that it provides some comfort but I can still keep focused on what I’m doing.
I’m the same way. No lyrics allowed while writing. How about setting. Do you set your books in the place you live?
Places I live, places I used to live, places I visited, all of that! Sara’s college in Dream Student is my college with the names changed; the apartment building she lives in in Dream Family is the building I lived in when I first moved to Washington, D.C.; her mother-in-law’s house is modeled on my cousin’s old house. “Write what you know,” right?
Thanks for stopping by today, James. It’s been a pleasure to learn a bit more about you and your work. Happy writing.
About J.J. – 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.
Links to books and social media sites
http://viewAuthor.at/JJDiBenedetto (Amazon Author page)
http://getBook.at/DreamStudent (book #1 on Amazon)
http://getBook.at/DreamStudentAudio (book #1 on audiobook)
http://getBook.at/DreamDoctor (book #2 on Amazon)
http://getBook.at/DreamHome (latest book – #7 – on Amazon)
http://www.writingdreams.net/audio (audiobook samples of all books available on audiobook)