Back to the Beginning – “Dream Student” and Awesome Indies

Today I’m hosting J.J. DiBenedetto, author of the Dream Series. James and I are both Awesome Indies authors, and in our writing we both love to ignore genre boundaries.  Note that James is giving away an ebook and an audiobook copy of “Dream Student,” so be sure to leave a comment to be in the running.

Guest Post by J.J. DiBenedetto:

I was absolutely thrilled a couple of months ago when the first book in the Dream Series, “Dream Student” won the Awesome Indies seal of approval – it was a very nice bit of recognition.  It’s also sold several hundred copies, been turned into an audiobook and gotten dozens of great reviews.

And, honestly, I’m really proud of it.  What I’m most proud of is, ironically, the very thing that makes the book difficult to categorize: the way it straddles genres and balances several different aspects of Sara’s life.

It’s not exactly a traditional romance novel; it isn’t a straight-out thriller; it’s not primarily a coming-of-age story; or a slice-of-life.  It’s all of that – or elements of all of those.  I tried very hard to maintain a balance in the book (and in the later books, as well) – showing Sara’s dreams and following them as they lead Sara into danger, but also giving plenty of attention to her day-to-day life.

And in the reviews, I can see that one of the biggest factors in readers’ reactions is what they expected the book to be.  Some people loved the time spent on Sara’s everyday activities and her friends and the minutiae of college life; but others, who I think came to the book looking mainly for a suspense-filled thriller, didn’t like that at all.

Personally, I do think those parts of the book are important (obviously, since I wrote them!).  On a basic level, I wrote the story I wanted to read, but on a story level, I do think it’s vital to ground characters in their world, and make their lives relateable to readers – once readers can truly see themselves in Sara’s shoes and see their daily lives reflected in hers, then her supernatural dreams will be that much more effective, and readers will be willing to accept them and follow Sara as she tries to handle them.

Which leads me back to the question: what do I call this book, how do I pitch it, what genre do I stick it into?  I’ve been calling it a “paranormal romance/suspense” novel, and I’m still not happy with that, but it’s the best I’ve been able to come up with …

Thanks for visiting, by the way – and as a thank you, I’m giving away an ebook copy of “Dream Student” – and an audiobook copy as well.  I’ll pick from the commentators randomly, so be sure to let me know you’re here!


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2 Responses to Back to the Beginning – “Dream Student” and Awesome Indies

  1. Pingback: Awesome Indies Discovery: “Talion” by Mary Maddox | The Wisewoman

  2. Enjoyable post, James. Thanks for this re-blogging opportunity. I find it interesting that so many of us Awesome Indies authors have written “cross-genre” works that are difficult to categorize. Most mainstream publishers are adamant about pigeonholing books into clearly defined genres, but those of us who kept our independence are free to mix things up. My trilogy, Waterspell, is an adventure story, a mystery, a fantasy, a romance, a dystopian YA, and a little bit science fiction. Like you, I’ve had some readers pick it up expecting a specific type of story, and some have reacted quite strongly when they discovered it’s not so easily classifiable. For the most part, though, readers have loved its uniqueness. Isn’t it fun to have broken out of the boxes that have traditionally limited what gets published? I love the new variety.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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