Author Interview: J. J. DiBenedetto

Time for another interview and some great paranormal romance. Meet J. J. DiBenedetto, who released the seventh book in series in May and has the eighth book coming out in October. You can find out more about DiBenedetto on the blog here: http://www.writingdreams.net .

dreams

1. How did you first become interested in writing?

I’ve always been interested in writing, at least since high school.  I was just never able to finish anything, not until a few years after college, when I completed the first draft of what would become “Dream Student”.  But it wasn’t very good, and I let it sit for over a decade, until I came back to it and rewrote it from the first page into (I’d like to think) a pretty good book.

2.  What sorts of fiction do you read, and why?

Almost anything, really.  My first love is science fiction, but I’ll look at just about any genre.  Really, it’s about the quality of the writing — does it draw me into the author’s world?  Do I want to get to know the characters better?  Do I think about them after I’ve finished the book?  Any book that can do those things is good by me, regardless of what it’s about.

3.  I see that you have a paranormal series out, with the latest book, Dream Home, just out in May. Tell me about the book and the series.

“Dream Home” is the seventh book in my Dream Series.  The books follow Sara Alderson, who’s a pretty ordinary woman — except that she can step into other people’s dreams.  We first meet her just when the dreams begin, while she’s in college, and the books each jump ahead in time.  She’s in medical school in book two, she’s a resident in book three, and so on.  In “Dream Home” she’s just taken her family to a new town, and she’s starting a job at the local hospital.  She’s having some problems fitting in, her co-workers resent her — and she’s visiting dreams again, especially one old man’s visions of a storm that will wipe out the whole town. The books are a mix.  There’s romance, in the relationship between Sara and her husband; there’s mystery, with a new problem she sees in her supernatural dreams in every book; and there’s the humor and heart and challenges of everyday life that she has to balance with her dreams.

4.  What made you decide to write a paranormal series?

I didn’t really decide — this is the idea that came to me.  The genesis of it was thinking about the whole “amateur sleuth” genre and trying to come up with a good explanation for why all these people in these books and movies don’t just go to the police when they suspect that their neighbor is a murderer — like most of us would do!  My answer was: when the only proof was in your head, because you saw it in somebody else’s dream.  If you saw the criminal dreaming about his crime, or where he hid the loot from the robbery (or the body from the murder), what could you tell the police?  If you wanted to do something about it, you’d have to find some concrete, real-world proof first, to bring with you to the police. The character of Sara came straight from that idea, and she didn’t change much from that to the final version of the first book of the series (she’s changed a lot over the seven books, though!)

5.  Who is your favorite writer and why?

Mark Helprin.  “Winter’s Tale” is the best book I’ve ever read, without any question.  His use of language is just amazing — his prose is so beautiful, I would kill to write one-tenth as well as he does.

6.  Your author page mentions growing up in Yonkers. Do you think your childhood contributed in any way to your writing, and if so, how?

Only in the general sense that everything I’ve experienced goes into what I write.  There’s nothing specific from my childhood that I can point to.  College is a different story; the setting for “Dream Student” (the first book of the series) is pretty much my college, at the time I was there, with the names changed.

7.  What are you working on next?

I’m working on the next two books in the Dream Series.  “Dream Vacation” will be out on October 31st, and “Shattered Dream” will be out in the spring of 2015.

8.  Branding is so important for a writer’s success. How did you go about branding your series?

Partly, it’s just the titles that do that — the “Dream” theme linking all of them.  I also changed the covers on all the books, and they are much more tightly branded now.  The original covers were done by a local artist, who hand-painted them based on my initial sketches.  They were beautiful, and she did a fantastic job…and they did absolutely nothing to sell the books, unfortunately.  The new covers really bring all the books together.

9.  What advice do you have for other writers?

Write.  And keep writing.  Really, that’s the only advice I’m qualified to give! Thanks!

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