D.R. Bentley migrated to the United States in the early 1990s. Now calling the Bridgeport area home, the author passes the time writing and gardening. Her recent book, Salvaged Minds, tells the tale of five friends whose journey begins in Italy loading and unloading ship cargo. Four are swayed by the abundance and riches they hear America offers and set course for a new land. Their fate as emigrants and they challenges they face as they try to succeed on their own terms makes for a compelling read. We recently spoke with her about her book.

Andrea Valluzzo: What was the inspiration for this book?

D.R. Bentley: What inspired me to write this book was seeing people being placed in hospice care; they did not want to be there, but had no say in the matter. My question was, could that be a legal ending or premature euthanasia by their loved ones who want them out of the way. My first chapter was quite daunting, so I depicted a life for that character before he faces hospice care.

AV: What time period is the story set in?

DRB: The story was set in the 1930’s when those youth left their country of origin.

AV: Can you explain the title and how it fits into the plot?

DRB: The story depicts those adventurers’ high expectations of America — the land of great wealth — and their disappointments, when they experienced a world worse than the one they left in Italy. Eventually they integrated into the culture and each man made a life for himself.  Strangers became tolerant of each other.

AV: You came to live in America in the 1990s from abroad. Is this book a bit autobiographical or how do you relate your main characters’ desires to emigrate here?

DRB: My own experience as an immigrant was different because I had a job waiting for me here in America before I left my country. I have met emigrants who worked for wages far below the minimum wage or without pay.

AV: What brought you to America?

DRB: The love of Florida and the price of owning my own homestead brought me to this country. At that time I was in an American college in the West Indies and I attended a seminar in Miami, Fla. I fell in love with that place. While out on the town I picked up a real estate brochure and in it were homes for purchase with as little as $500 down. I knew then America was the ideal place for me to live.

AV: With the current political climate and refugee issues worldwide, your book seems quite relevant today. Was that on your mind as you were writing this?

DRB: Yes. For their own financial gain, people are using these disadvantaged emigrants as slaves, instead of paying them good wages to improve their lives.

AV: Tell us a bit about your background.

DRB: I grew up on a farm in the West Indies. I attended the International College of the Cayman Islands and graduated with a bachelors of science degree in business administration and a masters of science degree in human resources. Presently, I am a licensed practical nurse. When I am not able to patrol the geriatric floors, I might become a full-time writer.

AV: I hear you are an avid gardener. What do you like to grow?

DRB: I like to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and flowers. Lately, an autoimmune condition prevents me from tolerating the daylight. At sunset, I still take a lantern outdoors to work in my garden.