The Dream Series books are very much set in the “real” world. I call them Paranormal Romance (or Suspense), but the one and only paranormal element is Sara’s ability to step into other people’s dreams. Everything else about her world is the same as in our everyday world.
The first choice I had about the books, when I began rewriting “Dream Student” after having it sit on a shelf for several years, was when to set it. It was already set at an unnamed college that bore an uncanny resemblance to the school I actually attended. I decided to go all the way, and set the book not only where I went to college, but when. So the book takes place in the winter of 1989-90, and the school got a name, “Crewe University” (I actually attended Case Western Reserve University…or CWRU). Although the names of the buildings are changed, they’re the same buildings I lived and went to classes in. I kept the street names and the businesses (like Tommy’s, with the best milkshakes in the whole city; or Presti’s bakery, etc). And I also included people I knew in college. The names were changed (very slightly in some cases), and everyone who I portrayed was done so with affection. I don’t think that anyone who recognizes themselves in the book will be offended.
Using real people and places really grounded the book for me, and I feel that it made it easier for me to create a more believable world that readers could become immersed in. Along with that, I made a point of looking up a lot of little details – if a movie or TV show is mentioned in “Dream Student” or any of the other books, it really was in the theaters or on the air at that time; when we hear Sara’s father complaining about a football game, there actually was a game that day, and whatever the score was in the book is what the score really was.
I also had a couple of moments where I made things up that turned out to be real. In “Dream Student,” Sara and Brian go out for their first big, fancy date at a restaurant called the Blue Duck Inn. I completely made that up…but it turns out that, not ten minutes away from me in downtown Washington DC, there actually is a restaurant called the Blue Duck Tavern – and I’m willing to swear on a Bible that I never saw or heard of it when I wrote that scene.
Similarly 9although in this case I’m willing to admit that I might have had unconscious memories bubbling up), in the most recent book, “Waking Dream,” Sara has a rush of parents come into her medical practice, bringing their babies on for their one-year checkup. At that point in the book, we’re in January of 2001, and Sara wonders what happened in March of 1999 that led to such a baby boom nine months later. Her fellow doctor wonders if there was a snowstorm then (and people who are trapped indoors with nothing to do find ways to “amuse” each other). I went online and looked it up, and sure enough, there was a freak blizzard in the DC area (where Sara is living by this point in the story) in March of 1999.
Those two coincidences helped to convince me that I was on the right track with these books, and that making them as “real” as possible was the right way to go.
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.
· Dream Student: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/331929
· Dream Doctor: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/296975
· Dream Child: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/296978
· Dream Family: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/296980
· Waking Dream: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/349800
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