I decided to feature a very special author today. James DiBenedetto was the first published author who reached out to me, and has guided me in numerous ways through this process of marketing/publishing. He has published the “Dream” series, with the newest, Waking Dream, coming out on 8/26! I’ve actually read the first one, “Dream Student”, and enjoyed it.
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.
A Brief Synopsis of “Dream Student”
What would you do if you could see other people’s dreams? If you could watch their hidden fantasies and uncover their deepest, darkest secrets…without them ever knowing?
Sara Barnes is about to find out. She thought that all she had to worry about was final exams, Christmas shopping and deciding whether she likes the cute freshman in the next dorm who’s got a crush on her.
But when she starts seeing dreams that aren’t hers, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about her friends, her classmates…and a strange, terrifying man whose dreams could get Sara killed.
Dream Student is the thrilling first installment of the Dreams series.
Mr. DiBenedetto’s most recent book, Waking Dreams, will be launched on 8/26!
I also was lucky enough to interview Mr. DiBenedetto. Thank you, James, for giving us the opportunity to get to know you better!
Briefly tell us about the books you have published. I’ve published five books so far in my Dream Series. They follow a young woman, Sara Barnes, who has the ability to see into other people’s dreams. Each book jumps ahead in Sara’s life; we first meet her in college, and by the fifth book she’s a doctor with her own medical practice (and also married, with kids).
I call the books Paranormal Romance/Suspense, but they really overlap into several genres: there is romance and suspense, but also mystery, humor, and plenty of heart.
What motivated you to write these books? I wrote the first draft of the book that would become “Dream Student” over 10 years ago, and then I put it aside. A year and a half ago, a good friend got her first novel published, and that made me think “why not me?” So I dusted off that old draft, rewrote it from the first page, and when I finished, I realized there was so much more story to tell, and now it’s expanded into five books (with more on the way in the next year)
What do you think your books offer to your readers? A likeable, sympathetic heroine to follow; a compelling story; good writing, hopefully; and a positive message as well.
Out of all your books, which is your favorite book, and why? Probably the third book, “Dream Child”. It was the most fun to write – I loved writing for Sara’s daughter Lizzie, and she brings a lot of energy to the story.
On the other hand, the fourth book, “Dream Family” is, I think, the best-written of the five. It was also the hardest to write, because I really put Sara through hell in that book and it kept me up nights.
Who is your favorite character from your book? Why? The obvious answer would be Sara – I’ve written nearly 500,000 words about her, and I couldn’t have done that if I didn’t like her! But I’ll say her father, Howard Barnes. He’s about the best father anyone could hope to have, and he’s a little bit quirky which makes him a lot of fun to write for.
Do you prefer pen/paper or the computer when you write? Computer! I can’t read my own handwriting, so that’s an easy choice.
What do you do to get yourself to focus when you’re writing a scene? (music, location, etc) Nothing special. I mostly listen to classical music or opera when I’m writing, and always something I’m familiar with. That way I’ve got the music to put me in a good mood, but since I’m used to the piece, it’s not a distraction.
What would you do if you saw other people’s dreams? I’d freak out. I really don’t want to know what the people around me are thinking, or fantasizing about! And I definitely wouldn’t want to get dragged into any of the things that happen to Sara in the books.
Do you prefer reality or fantasy? Fantasy, definitely! Now, if only I could figure out a way to actually live in fantasy instead of reality…
Who are your favorite authors? Stephen R. Donaldson, Mark Helprin, Nick Bantock, Terry Pratchett, Frank Herbert, Alastair Reynolds.
Out of all of the books you’ve read, which books have “stuck” with you? “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin. Best book I’ve ever read, hands down. And even though I’ve reread it probably 25 times, I still see something new every time I come back to it.
What type of advice would you give other indie authors? Your job doesn’t end when the book is finished – it’s just starting! Marketing and selling the books is very, very hard work.
Have you had any regrets regarding this writing/publishing/marketing process? Is there anything you would do different? My biggest regret is not knowing more going into the process, so I could have avoided some pitfalls as far as promotions and marketing go. The main thing I’d do different is to avoid some of the promotions and websites I used, and concentrate on others that turned out to be more effective.
Since you started this journey in writing, what are some positives and some negatives you’ve encountered? The biggest positive has been the reaction of readers to the books – people have really liked them, which is just thrilling. I wanted to believe the books were good and that they had something to say that people would want to hear, but to get proof was an amazing experience.
There really hasn’t been much negative, except that I’m not a patient person by nature so the slow process of building up a presence and selling books has been difficult to wait through.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Spend time with my wife and my family. Go to the opera. Travel (if I can ever get the money together to go back to Europe!). Cook. Lots of things!
Tell us your most memorable or proudest moment. My most memorable moment was on an archaeological dig in Mallorca, Spain. It was a volunteer project, and I came up with the best find of anyone in my group (it was just luck, really!). That whole trip was one of the best experiences of my life.
Since your books are a Romance as well, what is your ideal romantic date? My first “official” date with my wife should have been. It was New Year’s Eve, and I took her to my favorite restaurant, which is a fondue restaurant. The atmosphere was perfect, and everything was wonderful…until she mentioned that she was a vegetarian, right after the entrée (a big plate of raw steak and chicken to be cooked in the fondue pot) was brought out!
Luckily, she didn’t hold it against me!
Tell us something interesting about you that your readers may not know. Back in college, I was a DJ on our school radio station (“WRUR, 91.1 FM, Cleveland). Every Friday morning, 5 to 7 AM. And I’ve still got my FCC Class III Radio Operator’s License. I think it’s even still valid.
If you had the power to change anything at all in this world, what would it be? I would want there to be less cruelty in the world. So much harm is done because we don’t recognize the humanity in others, and we lash out at them to make ourselves feel better. If I could wave a magic wand and change human nature to get rid of that, I’d do it in a second.
Finally, if you could say something to your readers, what would it be? Thank you!
You can find his books at following links:
All four books are also available at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAav3NL_rkk&feature=youtu.be (book trailer)
http://www.writingdreams.net/?p=800 (10 minute audiobook sample)
Thank you, James, for being our guest today! We wish you lots of luck on your writing endeavors!