Friday, May 6, 2016

Books, Chocolate and Wine with J.J. DiBenedetto

Guest post: a character interview with Jane Barnaby, the 20th century heroine of Finders Keepers
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An only child.
Sorry, that was mean.  I actually do love my brother.  As a child…a Jedi, I guess?  Or a starship pilot, maybe.  Yes, we went to see “Star Wars” a dozen times when it came out, why do you ask? 
What are you passionate about these days?
The peoples of the Copper Age in Europe.  Well, my advisor is passionate about that, anyway, and it’s hard not to get caught up when he really gets going.  Seriously, it actually is really interesting.
What are your favorite TV shows?
Star Trek: the Next Generation.  Who doesn’t love Captain Picard?  And Jeopardy.  I can usually beat my brother, because he doesn’t bother to keep up with – well, anything outside of his engineering classes. 
Who should play you in a film?
I don’t remember her name, but the actress who plays the younger sister in “Mystic Pizza.”  The one who ends up getting seduced by the guy she’s babysitting for.  Not that I’m into older guys, but she’s around my age and she kind of looks like me, so there you go.
What would we find under your bed?
Oh, God, I’m afraid to look and find out.  Probably dust bunnies the size of a Rottweiler.
Tell us about your favorite restaurant.
It’s called Forbidden City.  It’s a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan, and aside from the food being great, I’m friends with one of the assistant chefs.  She’s so nice.  I’ve been trying to set her up with my father, if he’d ever get a clue.
Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?
Night person, totally.  My father says I operate on “college time,” sleep as late as possible, stay up until I pass out.  I can’t really argue with him.
What was the scariest moment of your life?
When I saw my father’s face, the day he came to pick me up at school after my Mom’s car accident.  I got called down to the principal’s office, and Daddy was waiting for me, and as soon as I saw his face, I knew something horrible had happened.  I can’t even describe it – it was like every negative feeling was showing there, all mixed together – fear and nausea and anger and a broken heart.  And the worst thing was, I could see how he was trying not to show that, to be brave so I wouldn’t get upset, but he couldn’t. 
That’s something I can’t ever forget.
1,400 miles.  3 countries. 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. 
Buy Link for Finders Keepers
Excerpt Finder Keepers
Jane stood there, in the middle of the impromptu dance floor that the nearly-empty restaurant had become, frozen in place.  She stared out the window while Alex stared at her, nearly identical expressions of shock on both their faces.  
He still held her hand, his other arm around her waist.  Without really thinking about what she was doing, she pulled away, turned towards the door. 
She didn’t hear him, took no notice of him at all until he reached out and grabbed her wrist.  She snapped at him without turning her head.  “Let go!  Somebody’s breaking into my car!”  His grip was no match for the adrenaline suddenly coursing through her, and she ripped free from his grasp.  Jane was out the door and halfway through the hotel lobby before the first dissenting thought made itself heard.  You’re losing your mind.  Breaking into your car?  Seriously?
She didn’t stop running, but she did address the rebellious voice in her head.  She reminded it that car theft didn’t only happen in the Bronx.  There were car thieves everywhere, even in Paris.  She also reminded the disbelieving voice that it wasn’t her car, that its true owner would have her head on a plate if anything happened to it. 
That probably wasn’t true.  It was hard to picture Professor Welldon calling for anybody’s head, for any reason.  In four months, she’d never seen him get angry.  On the other hand, letting his brand-new car get stolen on her watch might be the thing to do it.  Better not to find out. 
Jane didn’t feel the cold when she got outside, even though she’d left her coat back in the restaurant.  She barely noticed it when she stepped into a slushy puddle and her shoe filled with icy liquid.  All her senses were focused ahead, on the car, and the man who was – what else could he possibly be doing? – trying to steal it.
She reached her parking spot, panting, and for a fraction of a second she was relieved to see it there: one Land Rover Discovery, Series I, in chromatic blue, five doors.  Her relief fled as soon as she noticed what wasn’t there: a rear window.
That wasn’t precisely true, she realized.  The glass that had made up the window still existed.  But it was no longer part of the car.  It was spread all around, some crunching beneath her feet, some in chunks fallen into the back of the vehicle.
The empty back of the vehicle.
And then she took a good look at the man, the one she’d spotted from the restaurant.  He wasn’t much to look at, truth be told.  Skinny, a puffy parka that didn’t suit him at all, bad teeth.  He faced Jane, but he wasn’t looking at her.  His eyes were focused beyond her, at what – or whom – she neither knew nor cared.  What she did care about was the screwdriver clutched in his hand. 
Now he was talking.  Shouting, really.  Pointing wildly over Jane’s shoulder, and shouting.  Jane couldn’t distinguish his words, though.  The sound of her heart beating, the roar of the blood rushing through her veins, drowned his voice out.  It didn’t matter that she couldn’t tell what he was saying.  What could he say?  The screwdriver was obviously his tool of choice for lockpicking.  Equally obviously it hadn’t done him any good.  He’d given up almost immediately, and resorted to smashing the window.  Did he have any idea that he might have smashed her career to pieces, too?
About the Author:
J.J. (James) Dibenedetto's fans would swear he's got a sixth sense when it comes to seeing into the minds of others and often wonder if his stories could possibly be fiction. He enjoys suspending disbelief with suspenseful paranormal tales that are a perfect blend of reality meets fantasy. 

His popular Dream Series continues to delight readers with each and every exciting installment. 

Born in Yonkers, New York, he currently resides in Arlington Virginia with his beautiful wife and a cat he is sure has taken full advantage of its nine lives. When it comes to the cat, he often wonders, but then again it might just be his imagination.
You can contact James at


  1. Sounds fascinating! I can feel the icy water in her shoe.

  2. Oh, this excerpt is tempting me. Thank you for the post and introduction to a fine author. Have to check this out!