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A Conversation with J.J. DiBenedetto, Author of THE DREAM SERIES (DREAM STUDENT, DREAM DOCTOR, and DREAM CHILD)

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Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today, J.J.! What 5 things should readers know about you?

  1. I’m a huge science fiction geek (but my readers probably figured that out already!)
  1. I’m 100% Italian on both sides of my family.
  1. I’m a native New Yorker (although I don’t live there anymore)
  1. My wife and I got married at Graceland.
  1. My wife and I are currently being trained by our cat, Danny.

LOL! Training humans—such a tough job 😉


Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? 😉

Sara Barnes is the main character of the Dream Series. We first meet her in college. She’s shy, studious, very loyal to her friends, somewhat uptight, always the last one to get a joke, and laser-focused on her goal of getting into medical school and becoming a doctor.

As the books go on, she loses a lot of the shyness and the uptightness (is that a word?), but she remains the last one to get the joke throughout the whole series.

If she were stranded on a desert isle, the college version of Sara would need her textbooks, so she could use the time productively and get ahead on her reading. The medical school (and residency) Sara would need a pillow so she could take a nice long nap. The Sara of the later books would need a cell phone so she could call home and hear the voices of her husband and her kids.

Being in grad school, I can totally identify with the version of Sara that needs a pillow right now. I’d like to say I’d want my textbooks too…but no, just the pillow, thanks. Okay, and my phone. (Get advanced degrees BEFORE having children. I’m just saying.)


Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

From a simple question: why do ordinary people in mystery stories try to solve the crimes themselves instead of going to the police like any rational person would do? The answer I came up with was, if they only saw the crimes in their heads – through the dreams of the people committing them. Then they’d have to investigate on their own to get enough evidence to even call the police.

The main character and the college setting of the book sprang to life right along with that idea.

I love your inspiration! Because yes, why DO regular people always solve the crimes themselves in fiction? At least it works out better for them (usually) than those silly girls in the white nightgowns and candles wandering around barefoot in horror movies…


How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

I’ve been writing since at least high school. I was inspired to get serious about it by a friend of mine, Jennifer R. Povey, when she sold her first novel. I asked myself, “Why not me?” and got to work.

Awesome 🙂


What do you like best about being a writer? What is the most challenging part?

The best part is getting the stories out of my head and onto paper, and seeing them come together and seeing that they really do work (when they do, anyway!)

The most challenging part is the marketing end of things. I had no idea how difficult it would be, or how quickly things change in the publishing world.

I don’t know how authors have time to write AND do marketing—talk about multi-tasking!


What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I’ve just released the tenth and final book of the Dream Series, DREAM WEDDING. For next year, I’m working on two projects now. One of them is a more straightforward romance, and the other is an adventure story that (I hope) will be along the lines of Romancing the Stone.

You had me at “Romancing the Stone” 😉


What authors and/or books have inspired you?

There are way too many to list!

Of course…


What are you currently reading? What are your thoughts about it so far?

I just started the new Rainbow Rowell novel, Carry On. I’m not sure what I think yet. Her writing is very good, but it’s almost too honest – it’s hard sometimes to sympathize with her characters enough for me to really get into the book because she doesn’t hesitate to show all their warts right up front.

Mini Moe #2 is currently binge-listening to her backlist—she started with Attachments, moved on to Fangirl, and now she’s on Eleanor and Park. I’ve only gotten to Attachments so far (but Carry On looks intriguing—I hope you end up liking it!)


If you had to “sell” this book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

What if you could see everyone else’s dreams? Find out!

Great! Thanks so much, J.J.!


About the AuthorJ.J. DiBenedetto II

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.

For More Information


Dream Student

About the Book:

Title: The Dream Series
Author: J.J. Dibenedetto
Publisher: Writing Dreams
Pages: 280 (each book)
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense

Sara Barnes thought her life was perfectly ordinary – until the night she began stepping into other people’s dreams.

Follow Sara as she learns to cope with this extraordinary gift (or curse) in the Dream Series:



It’s bad enough that, thanks to her supernatural talent, Sara is learning more than she ever needed to know about her friends and classmates, watching their most secret fantasies whether she wants to or not.  Much worse are the other dreams, the ones she sees nearly every night, featuring a strange, terrifying man who commits unspeakable crimes.  Now Sara wonders if she’s the only witness to a serial killer – and the only one who knows when and where he’s going to strike next.



Medical school and life as a newlywed would be enough by themselves for anybody to handle.  But Sara’s got another problem – her dreams have started up again.  Almost everyone at the medical school is dreaming about the death of the school’s least popular teacher, Dr. Morris, and once again, Sara finds herself in the role of unwilling witness to a murder before it happens.  But this time, there are too many suspects to count, and it doesn’t help matters that she hates Dr. Morris every bit as much as any of his would-be murderers do.



Sara thought she had made peace with her dreaming talent, but she’s got a surprise coming: her four-year-old daughter has inherited it, too.

Unraveling a mystery with lives on the line is difficult enough under the best of circumstances.  But when Sara has to view all the evidence through the eyes – and dreams – of a toddler, it may be an impossible task.


For More Information:

  • The Dream Series is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:

I’m staring at my clock radio.  According to the big green digital numbers, it’s exactly 3:14 AM.  I think it might be off by a minute or two, but that’s not really the point.  The point is that I’m awake to know it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 3:14 AM.

This is not by choice.  Actually, it sort of is, I guess.  I’m awake because I don’t want to fall asleep.  And why I don’t want to fall asleep?  It’s a fair question.  I’d ask, if it were someone else.

The answer sounds stupid, even to me.   If I’m honest, I have to admit I’m just being a baby about this.  I don’t want to fall asleep because of the dreams I’ve been having.  “Nightmares” is a better word.  I don’t think even that really gets the point across, though.  Is there a word for dreams that are worse than nightmares?  There should be.

It’s been the same the last four nights, exactly the same.  The people in it are the same, the places are the same, everything happens exactly the same way, in the same order, and the worst part is that it all feels so real.  There isn’t any of that weird imagery that people always talk about–talking rabbits or losing your teeth while flying naked behind trains through long dark tunnels or whatever else.  Everything that happens in this nightmare could come right out of the news.  It could all really happen.

Oh, my.  That’s a horrible thought.  What if–maybe it is really happening?


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