I want to welcome J.J. DiBenedetto! First I’d love you to introduce yourself.
Tell us about your latest release.
It’s called Finders Keepers, and it’s an adventure story about an archaeology student who gets mixed up with international art thieves. If you picture “Romancing the Stone” you’re not too far off. It’s the first book of a new series, and I’m already working on the next book.
Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.
1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
That’s a tough call! From a book, I’d say Marc Remilliard, in Julian May’s “Saga of Pliocene Exile.” He’s charismatic, smart and he’s got believable motivations for what he does. Plus, you have to love a guy who can teleport halfway across the galaxy just using his psychic powers!
2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
In this new book, it has to be Jane. I’ve actually had versions of her show up in different stories and even in a role playing game, so she’s been with me for almost 20 years. She’s a lot of fun – she’s got a good heart, but she’s also a little bit crazy.
3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
This story is basically an adventure, and it wasn’t a choice, that’s just the story that came to me. My previous series, the Dream Series, is basically paranormal romance with a strong mystery/suspense feel to it as well, but, again, that’s just the story that I “had” to write.
4.) What are you working on now?
I’m working on Jane’s next adventure. She’s going to have to try and help her father get remarried, stop a college friend from getting married, and there’s also the matter of a treasure-trove of art stolen by the Nazis during World War 2 that she’s going to have to find before it falls into the wrong hands.
5.) What got you to start writing?
I’ve always written, since at least junior high school. But about 3 years ago, a good friend sold her first novel, and I decided “hey, why not me, too?” and I got more serious about things.
6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
They really spring from the characters. Usually I come up with who the character is, and then it’s just a matter of following them around and seeing what they do.
7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
For my Dream Series books, I’ve had readers be surprised that I’m a man. Those books are written in first-person, from the point of view of the heroine, who we first meet as a college student. So I guess it’s a compliment that I got into her head well enough that readers were surprised to discover I wasn’t actually a young woman, but a man in his 40’s!
8.) Do you have any special talents?
I’m a fast learner, that’s probably about it. I have no artistic skill at all – I never progressed beyond stick figures. And although I love and appreciate music, I am about the least musically talented person you will ever meet.
9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
Keep writing. That’s really the best advice I’ve gotten, or that I could give to anyone else.
10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
Maybe Frank Herbert. I’d love to ask him what he really intended for the final book(s) of the Dune series.
11.) What song would you say describes your life?
On a bad day, I’d say the Oath Trio from the end of Act II of Gotterdammerung (bet you weren’t expecting that answer!). But as a good Sicilian, I’ve been known to hold a grudge, and when someone really gets on my bad side, I’m right there with Brunnhilde when she calls down the wrath of the gods to wreak vengeance on the people who’ve betrayed her.
On a good day, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. It’s optimistic, joyful, and it makes me think of my native New York.
12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
A dog, provided I got to also specify that I’d be born into a good home with a family that properly loved and cared for their animals. If not, then a Komodo Dragon.
J.J. (James) DiBenedetto is a long-time Arlington resident, having lived in the area since 1995. He’s a marketing professional by day, and a prolific author by night, with his tenth novel scheduled for release on October 20th.
His Dream Series novels are bestsellers, with over 130,000 copies of the first book in the series, DREAM STUDENT, having been downloaded from Amazon.com and other e-book retailers.
Aside from marketing and writing, J.J. enjoys photography, cooking, the opera and almost any book or movie about time travel. He’s also a rabid New York Giants fan.
J.J. currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and their cat/owner, Danny.
About FINDERS KEEPERS
2 men she can’t trust.
What could go wrong?
It should have been a simple job. All archaeology student Jane Barnaby had to do was pick up a box her professor needed and deliver it to him at his dig site, along with his new car. Yes, his office was in Oxfordshire, and his dig site was in Spain, a trip of 1,400 miles across three countries and two bodies of water. Still, it should have been simple.
And it was, until Jane discovered she picked up the wrong box by mistake. Not the one with boring pottery samples, but instead the one with priceless ancient Egyptian artifacts. The one that a team of international art thieves is after.
Now she’s chasing – and being chased by – the thieves. And she’s picked up a pair of passengers who claim they can help her outwit them, get her professor’s pottery back and return the artifacts to their rightful owner. If only she could figure out which one of them is working with the thieves and which one she can trust in this high-stakes game of finders keepers.
Excerpt from Finders Keepers:
“My apologies, Jane,” he said. “You’re right, of course. I should have made allowances. It’s not your fault that you have such a poor grasp of the English language; you didn’t have the benefit of a British education growing up, after all.”
His eyes twinkled so prettily as he said it, Jane couldn’t work up any annoyance over the insult. “Not like you, I’m sure. Eton, right?” She paused for an instant, trying to recall the names of other posh boarding schools she’d heard in her time at Oxford. She didn’t want him to assume she was some silly, ignorant American who’d only heard of Eton because everyone knew that one, even if they didn’t know anything else about it. To her surprise, several names came to her quickly. “Or was it Harrow? Winchester? Maybe Brookfield?”
He grinned again, his eyes twinkled again. “Oh, yes. Dear old Brookfield! How I loved to walk by the statue of old Mr. Chipping every day on my way to the cricket pitch.” She’d stepped in it, but she had no idea how, exactly. And then, after a moment’s reflection, she did.
Brookfield! Of course! The name had come not from one of her current classmates, but from an old, old movie, one that her mother had loved. Jane couldn’t believe she’d botched things so completely.
But it was done now, and she had to say something. What would her mother have done if she were in Jane’s position? Jane remembered times that Mom had been caught in a white lie or a little joke, and her mother had always brazened it out regardless. Surely Jane could do the same? “I’ve heard the cricket pitch is lovely,” she said, meeting his eyes. Just barely, but it was eye contact. “And the Latin teachers are second to none, aren’t they?”
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