Author Interview with P.H.T. Bennett
I’m interviewing P.H.T. Bennett today, author of MG fantasy “Raising Sleeping Stones”. Welcome to my blog!
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I’d been writing stories, plays, and poems for much of my life, but didn’t try to do much with them. Then I started working on a screenplay I really loved about fathers learning how to raise their children. I wrote about 6 full drafts of that and intended to direct it when I realized I didn’t have the money I’d need to hire a crew. So I turned to something I foolishly thought would be easier to write and complete: a novel. Ha! It took me 11 years to build the world and write the first two books of the series. So much for easy!
What inspired you to write Raising Sleeping Stones?
It was the recurring nightmares that both my daughters were having. They were losing a lot of sleep, so I was, too. After this had happened a few times, I showed them how they could change their nightmares, make them less scary, and they got results so quickly that they begged me to teach them more. Soon, they were flying, breathing underwater, even lucidly changing their dreams while they were happening. My oldest, Paola, told me I really had to write some of these lessons down so that other kids could do what they were doing. She was obsessed with the Harry Potter books- we all were –and I thought, “What if there were an adventure series that was not only fun to read, but that would actually help kids do their own type of magic in their dreams?” And that’s how the writing began.
What is your editing process like?
Constant. The first novel went through many, many drafts and revisions with my irreplaceable writing partner, Tom Griffin, who should get some kind of award for the thousands of pages of rough drafts he read and gave me guidance on. When I had a version I liked, then my editors and I really hunkered down to ask the important questions, like “Does this make sense?” “Did you remember to pick up that plot strand from Chapter 3 in Chapter 19?” and “Should we use the oxford comma, or not?” These sessions went from inspiring to maddening, especially the ones about punctuation. And even after thousands of micro-edits, I still found a verb in the middle of the book that is missing an ‘s,’ which will now obsess me until I upload an edited version. Ugh.
Now that I’m editing the second book, it’s both easier and more complicated. It’s easier because there is a world that’s been built, with rules, themes, and characters that have been firmly established and can be built upon and taken to new levels, which is really fun. It’s more complicated because now I have to read backwards and forwards every day: backwards to make sure that everything is consistent with what’s been written in Raising Sleeping Stones, and forwards to make sure that I keep nurturing the seeds that were planted in that book so that they can flower in the second and third books. And then, once that’s done, I’ll have to tackle the punctuation and micro-edits so that there won’t be any missing ‘s’ es. Ses? Esses? Hmmm…I have to call my editor.
Who is your favorite character from your book?
Like a parent, that’s an impossible question to answer because I love all my characters equa… DeeDee. I have to admit, it’s DeeDee. Kiva is the core of the story, the one who struggles with the biggest issues and resolves them through her dreams, and I love Hilde, Marcel, and Mr. Heyvon for the different kinds of love and guidance they give the girls. I even love writing Aunt Agnes because she challenges me to look behind her mean exterior to figure out what’s fueling that anger. But it’s DeeDee who has been surprising me since day one. She keeps saying and doing things I’d never planned her to, and yet she keeps making the stories better. She has a sense of humor, a fearlessness that none of the other characters have, and that I don’t have, either. Maybe that’s why I love her so much. She’s all impulse and emotion, and seeing that come out on the page always makes me laugh and frees me up. I think she knows that because she’s taking crazy risks in the second book. I just hope I can keep up with her.
Did you set any writing goals for 2016? If so, what are they?
The first one is simply to share Raising Sleeping Stones with more readers. Working on the app every day for a year with an amazing team of composers, artists, editors, developers, and readers was the most demanding, exciting, and exhausting creative experience I’ve ever had, so when it was over, I had no energy left to get the word out. Now that I’m recharged, I’m loving the back and forth with authors, readers, bloggers, and reviewers, so Stones is finally getting the support it should.
The other goal is to make the second book even better. Raising Sleeping Stones was about introducing a world where two girls who had never dreamed or thought about dreams discover that dreams are worth looking at and exploring. In fact, the only keys to their survival can only be found in their dreams. The second book is about taking them to another world where dreams are all that anyone cares about, and where they can use the dreams they have while they’re asleep to do things when they’re awake that no one has ever even done, or even imagined, before. And it’s also to make sure that the battle scenes are truly epic.
Are you working on something now?
Yes. While I’m working on the second book, I’m also working on a free summer dreaming challenge with an amazing group of dream authors and experts. For 28 days and nights, we’ll be sharing tips with readers on how to remember more dreams, become lucid, tame your nightmares, and bring the lessons from your dreams into your waking life. We’ll also be giving away different dream books every week. This is the kind of program I wished I’d had many years ago when I was first learning how much I could do with my dreams. You can find out more and sign up for it at: http://bit.ly/dreamingchallenge.
About the Book
Title: Raising Sleeping Stones
Author: P.H.T. Bennett
Genre: MG Fantasy
Like every kid in Solasenda, 11-year-old Kiva Stone has been far too busy training for one of the five town guilds to think about something as useless as dreaming. But when she and her sister DeeDee uncover a mysterious plot to get rid of them, their only hope lies with a shadowy group of people who get unimaginable powers from their dreams. As the girls escape with them up the river, they start learning secret dreaming techniques that have been forbidden for centuries. But how can they learn enough to stand against the enemies chasing them? The answer lies in the shattered history of Orora Crona, the lost Valley of Dreams, and whoever can piece it together first will rule for centuries to come.
P.H.T. Bennet began exploring his dreams when he was a child and has never bothered to stop. He had the good luck to have two daughters, Juliette and Paola, who not only served as the inspirations for DeeDee and Kiva, the main characters of Raising Sleeping Stones, but also helped him turn their family dreamwork sessions into this book. His lucky streak grew when he married his lovely wife, Mim,who tolerates his turning on a light in the middle of the night to write down ever-crazier dreams and talking about them in the morning as long as he lets her sleep in, first. His favorite dreams involve flying, visiting the dead, and replaying nightmares until they reveal their secrets.
Pratt’s latest projects are editing Book Two of the Orora Crona Chronicles and planning a virtual summer dreaming camp with other dream authors.
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