WELCOME J. J. DIBENEDETTO
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.
Drink – Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda
Food – Fondue
Vacation – Mallorca, Spain
(an archaeology trip, best experience of my life)
TV show – of all time: “Farscape”; currently: “Doctor Who”
Movie – “Prizzi’s Honor”
Animal – Cat (specifically my cat, Daisy)
Sport – Football (New York Giants)
Book – “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin
Book title: Dream Student
(Dreams series, book 1)
Brief synopsis of your book:
Sara Barnes is an ordinary college student, worried about final exams, her med school application, and the upcoming Christmas break. But she discovers she’s not ordinary when she begins having strange, unexplainable dreams – and then she realizes they’re not her dreams at all. She’s seeing other people’s dreams. And one of those other people is a serial killer, hunting for his next victim…
Current book or project you’re working on:
What was the inspiration for your novel?
The original idea (of someone seeing other people’s dreams, and having to act on what they learned from them) came to me 15 years ago, and I wrote a (very rough) first draft. It sat there on my computer until the last year, when I finally decided to buckle down and write the thing properly – and it expanded from one story into a series of four books following Sara from college through to becoming a practicing doctor.
Please share three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) The book is set at a (very) thinly-fictionalized version of my actual college, and a few of my classmates might recognize themselves in the “background extras” that populate the world of the story!
2) Although it doesn’t become obvious until later books, Sara has a lot more control over her dreams than she thinks she does.
3) There’s quite a bit of old-fashioned detective work that Sara and her friends undertake before the end of the story.
Who is the most complex character from your current novel?
Sara herself; she has a LOT going on, and she’s both very thoughtful and yet sometimes extremely unaware of her own feelings and reasons for her behavior.
Are there any characters in your book that remind you of yourself?
Sara’s boyfriend doesn’t exactly remind me of myself; but he is the kind of man I aspire to be (even more so in the later novels in the series).
If you could pick any well known or famous author to review your book who would you pick and why?
Stephen R. Donaldson. He’s my favourite author, and I would honestly want to know what he thought of my book, and whether it really got into emotional truths, as his work does so well.
What genre does your book fall into?
Paranormal suspense and/or romance. Probably more suspense than romance.
Which genres do you write?
Paranormal (suspense/romance), Science Fiction.
What is the first book you remember reading, that affected how you thought or felt about something?
“Dune” by Frank Herbert – it was just so deep, and it helped me to look for the complexities and the connections in the world around me.
Is there a book you loved that was also made into a movie that you also loved? If so, how did the movie connect with you?
I’m so often disappointed with filmed versions of books that I love. I always want to see EVERYTHING on screen, and it’s easy to forget that the two mediums are so different that you can’t just go from page to screen; you have to make choices and changes. Probably the best film version of a book I love where I also love the film is the Lord of the Rings trilogy, simply because I think the filmmakers captured the heart of the story so well. I didn’t agree with all their choices, but I can see WHY they made them, and the sense behind them. I think that’s all you can ask from a film version of a beloved book.
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Jennifer Povey. She’s a friend, and she’s had stories published in Analog and many other magazines. Her first novel is being published next month by Musa Publishing, and seeing her hard work and success pushed me to work harder on my books.
2) Stephen R. Donaldson. He’s one of the best writers around, and trying to write even a sentence or two that’s as good as his prose is a challenge!
3) J.K. Rowling. Partly for her sheer success, coming from difficult circumstances and becoming a worldwide success, but also for her worldbuilding, and for creating books that are a joy to dive back into over and over.
Have you ever read a book you couldn’t finish reading?
“Crash” by J.G. Ballard – it was so repetitively gross, for lack of a better word, that I just couldn’t continue with it.
Do you read a book, while you are writing a book?
All the time. I’m always reading (or rereading, which I do often)
How many books have you written? Which book is your favourite and why?
Four so far, all part of this series. I’d say that probably the third book, “Dream Child” is my favourite, because it introduces Sara’s daughter Lizzie, who was an incredibly fun character to write for. Probably the best book, though, is the last one (so far!), “Dream Family”, but it’s also the darkest.
Is there anything that helps get you in the mood to write?
The thing that gets me most in the mood is when I have a great idea (or at least an idea I think is great) that just demands that I get it down right away.
What were three challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Finding time to write, in between work and family commitments.
2) Trusting what I wrote, after I’d been over it a few times, and not continuing to tweak endlessly.
3) Listening to feedback, especially when it concerned scenes or characters I liked that the reader had trouble with.
What lessons have you learned as an aspiring writer?
Keep writing. It’s really that simple – sit down at the computer and write. That, and get good, honest feedback, and listen to it.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so what helps you to ‘overcome’?
I usually just wait it out; I haven’t been blocked for more than a few days, so far at least.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned, either in the self-publishing or traditional publisher, route?
Promotion is hard, and it’s a constant job – I’m going the self-publishing route, and that means there’s nobody but me to do anything and everything that has to be done.
How can people connect with you?
Where can readers find your book?