Today’s Indie Lights Book Parade author is and interview by James DiBenedetto.
In Dream Student, college junior Sara Barnes thought her life was totally under control. All she had to worry about was her final exams, Christmas shopping, applying to medical school – and what to do about the cute freshman in the next dorm with a crush on her. Everything was going according to plan, until the night she started seeing other people’s dreams.
It’s bad enough that 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.
Dream Student is the first book of the Dream Series.
Welcome to Britbear’s Book Reviews, James. Tell us what inspired you to write your first book?
DREAM STUDENT came from asking a simple question. Why, in most mystery stories, do average people try to solve a crime or catch a killer themselves, when most normal people would do the sane thing and just call the police?
I tried to come up with an answer, and what I thought of was: maybe they wouldn’t go to the police if the only evidence was in their heads. If they saw the crime through the eyes of the killer, and that was the only proof they had. If they saw it in the dreams of the killer. So there was the idea: if you could see someone else’s dreams, and that person was committing crimes, what could you do about it? You’d have no physical proof, the police would never believe you. You’d have to start investigating yourself, if you wanted to stop them.
Sara, the main character of DREAM STUDENT, came into being along with that idea, and so did the college setting of the book.
Very Eyes of Laura Mars! Are the experiences in your book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The actual story of DREAM STUDENT (and the rest of the Dream Series) is not based on real people or events, but the background settings and some of the minor characters definitely are. In DREAM STUDENT, Sara attends a (very thinly) fictionalized version of my college; the apartment building she lives in in book four, DREAM FAMILY, is basically the building I lived in when I moved down to Washington, DC, and so forth.
What book are you reading now?
I’m finishing my yearly re-read of my favorite novel ever, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin.
What projects are you working on currently?
I’m working on the latest book in the Dream Series. This is the ninth book, and it’s called SHATTERED DREAM. I hope to have it released by the end of April.
Best of luck with it. Back to Dream Student. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Absolutely. Every time I read my work over, I see things I would change. But I think every author feels that way. Leonardo Da Vinci said it best – “art is never finished, only abandoned.”
Who designs your book covers?
The original covers for my first six books were hand-painted by a local artist who also was the head graphic designer at my old employer, Ami Low. She did a fantastic job, and gave me exactly what I wanted. But unfortunately, what I wanted was not what readers in my genre were looking for. So I had to change the covers, and the new covers were designed by Emma Michaels, who’s also done an amazing job.
She certainly did. While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?
Not exactly. What I feel like, sometimes, is that the characters are actual people, and I’m only passing on the stories that I’ve heard from them, rather than creating them myself.
Thanks for stopping by, James.
You can read more about James and his writing by visiting
Indie Lights Book Parade