I’m the author of the Dream Series, which kind of straddles the line between suspense, romance and paranormal. I’m also a marketing professional (which you’d think would make it easier for me to sell books, but it hasn’t worked out that way yet!), a native New Yorker and the property of an 11 pound white cat named Danny.
Tell us about your most recent book.
My most recent book is number nine in the series, FEVER DREAM. The whole series follows Sara, who’s a doctor, and who can also step into other people’s dreams. In this book, one of her patients dies of an illness she can’t figure out, and the more she questions what happened, the more trouble she gets herself into.
Who is the villain or antagonist in your story and what is he/she like?
The villain in this book is a crooked politician, who’s based not-at-all-loosely on Eliot spritzer (the disgraced ex-Governor of New York).
But my favorite villain in the series is a woman who shares Sara’s ability to visit dreams. She’s Lydia Saunders, and she shows up in the fifth book of the series, WAKING DREAM. Physically, she looks a lot like Sara, and she’s around the same age. But while Sara uses her ability to help people, Lydia’s using it to help herself, and she doesn’t care who she hurts along the way.
Although Lydia doesn’t survive that book, she appears again in Sara’s dreams in FEVER DREAM. Sara’s subconscious calls up an image of Lydia to try and make sense of what’s going on in the story:
She swings her legs off the bed, slowly gets to her feet, looks at herself in the big floorstanding mirror.
Sara does not see herself. There is someone else looking back at her.
“I’ve been waiting here for hours,” Lydia Saunders says from the other side of the glass. She’s exactly as Sara remembers her – brown hair, scarlet dress cut much too short, red heels that elevate her two or three inches above Sara.
“What are you doing here?” Sara knows that it’s impossible for Lydia to be here – or anywhere at all, for that matter. “I – I killed you.”
“You ought to be asking yourself that question. You’re the one who brought me here. This is your dream, or hadn’t you figured that out yet?”
Sara considers that, and it does make some sense. Perhaps this is a dream. This bedroom doesn’t feel right. And she’s fairly certain that Brian doesn’t work at the Pentagon; or, if he did, it was several years ago. But she’s not convinced. And nothing Lydia says can be trusted; that much, Sara knows for sure.
“What do you want?” Sara’s annoyance with Lydia grows with each word. Why, she wonders, can’t the woman do the decent thing and stay dead?
“Like I said, you brought me here.” Lydia rolls her eyes impatiently. “I can see this is going to take a while. I may as well get comfortable.” She takes a couple of steps to her left, halfway out of the frame of the mirror, and, with a grunt of effort, drags a heavy wooden chair into view. Lydia plops herself down on it. “That’s much better. You know, you could just have given me one to start with. Some host you are.”
What do you think are the heroic qualities she possess?
As she sees it, Lydia is doing what she has to do to help her husband’s career and secure her future. She doesn’t see herself as a villain at all.
Is there any respect between this character and the heroine of your story?
None at all. Sara despises Lydia, because Lydia was snooping around in the dreams of Sara’s husband. She also caused a friend of Sara’s to commit suicide, and nearly killed Sara herself.
What was the most difficult part of writing about this character?
There really wasn’t any difficulty. Lydia was a lot of fun to write, as nasty as she was.
What kind of antagonist is your favorite?
A smart one. That’s the biggest appeal for me. There’s a place for the monsters and the brutes, but give me a cold, calculating genius any day.
Who is one of your favorite fictional villains (can be from a book, movie or television)?
Senator Palpatine/the Emperor in the Star Wars movies. He’s so entertaining to watch, manipulating everything behind the scenes.
To you, how important is a good antagonist?
A good antagonist is vital.
Blurb for the series:
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:
After nearly a decade of visiting other people’s dreams, Sara Alderson thought she had made peace with her supernatural gift. Until one night, while watching her husband dream, she saw someone else watching him, too: a mysterious woman in a red dress.
The woman in red keeps appearing in the dreams of Sara’s husband and his co-workers. Sara doesn’t know if this mystery woman is trying to steal her husband, drive him mad or something even worse. All she does know is that now she has something she never imagined: a nemesis. And the only thing more dangerous than a nemesis who shares her ability to step into other people’s dreams, is one who knows far more about that ability and how to control it than Sara does.
Waking Dream is the fifth book of the Dream Series.
Excerpt from WAKING DREAM (Sara is describing her meeting in a dream with Lydia – although she doesn’t yet know her enemy’s name)
“But she’s – she’s trouble. She has to be. Why else would she run the moment she realized I was there?” That’s not the behavior of an honest person, right?
“She could be scared. Remember how frightened you were at first?” Yes. But, honestly, back in college with Dr. Walters, if I’d seen someone else in that bedroom with me I would have been thrilled to know it wasn’t just me going through it. I would have tried to talk to them, ask them what was going on. I would have been hoping for an ally. This woman didn’t want any of that.
“Yeah. But she – she wasn’t scared, she was running away because she knew she shouldn’t be there,” I say. And then something else occurs to me. “That – how did I not think of this before? That’s why she came in through a window.”
Beth looks at me blankly, then gestures to the half-empty wine bottle. “I felt – I didn’t see it, it was just an impression, but I thought a window opened up, right before she appeared. There was a draft, cold air blowing in.” I close my eyes and think back to two years ago, to the times I deliberately went into Kat’s dream, and then Grace’s. “When I did it on purpose, I walked in through the door. She climbed in the window. Like a thief.”
She’s not convinced; she gives me a weak smile in response. “How do you know that’s not just your subconscious making you feel that?”
“She’s breaking into my husband’s mind! She’s a…” I catch myself. “I can’t say it.” Beth’s eyes widen a little at that; she knows what word I was thinking. “But that’s what she is. She’s got no business in his head, and she needs to stay out!” My heart is racing as I say it, even as I try – and fail – to inject a note of calm into my voice.
http://viewAuthor.at/JJDiBenedetto (Amazon Author Page)
http://getBook.at/WakingDream (buy link for Waking Dream)
http://getBook.at/FeverDream (buy link for Fever Dream)