To get us started can you tell us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
My new book, THE RULES OF DREAMING, is just out. It’s an unconventional mystery/suspense novel which should appeal to readers of a literary bent with a taste for the gothic and an interest in music and literature.
I’ll have a more conventional mystery out in the Fall. And after that I have another unconventional mystery that will be out next Spring. I’m also working on a couple of comedies. All in all, I expect to be publishing about two books a year for the next few years.
How would you describe yourself using only five words?
Wide-ranging interests, literature, music, history.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Mojitos (although I’m not much into guilt).
If we asked your muse to describe you using five words, what do you think they would say?
Easily inspired, hard to focus.
Name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you.
I can be heard as a caller on one of the “Best of Car Talk” compilations. Hint: I once owned a 1962 Ford Fairlane.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
I don’t have any problem getting in the mood to write. Usually if I just sit down at my computer that’s what I start doing. It’s what I like to do. I usually have to get myself in the mood to do something else.
If someone hasn't read any of your work, what book would you recommend that they start with and why?
I would recommend the new book, THE RULES OF DREAMING. (Heck, there are only two of them!) Admittedly it’s an unusual book, probably not for everyone. My previous book, PERFECTLY HEALTHY
MAN DROPS DEAD, is a more conventional mystery, and people tell me
it’s pretty funny and entertaining. The
two books are very different. I doubt if
I will ever write a series or any list of very similar books.
Where do you find the inspirations for your stories?
It’s usually from an idea or concept, less often from a setting or incident or character. I have a pretty wide-ranging background of interests and experiences as well as reading. I’ve worked as a musician, attorney and bookseller, among other things. I’ve lived in cities, suburbs and farms, and traveled in many countries. I read several languages. So the ideas can come from anywhere.
Are your characters able to love or do they need to be taught?
That’s a good question. I think a novelist has to love his characters (even the bad ones) on some level and care about them in order to make them seem real, and a similar principle probably applies among the characters themselves. It’s easy to say that a character loves another one, but difficult to show love growing between them without resorting to cliches. Luckily, in mysteries you don’t have to go too deeply into that! It’s something I’d like to get better at.
Do you have a book that was easiest to write or one that was the hardest?
It’s never easy. If it seems easy, you go back and make it harder.
If you could collaborate with one author who would it be?
Tragically he’s no longer with us, but my answer would be David Foster Wallace. There is a density of thought in his writing, sentence by sentence, word by word, that I find astonishing. If I were collaborating with him I would be left in the dust, but it would be quite an experience.
Coffee, tea or other drink to get you moving in the morning?
Several cups of black coffee get me going in the morning. The aroma of it brewing is my alarm clock.
What is coming up from you in 2013? Anything you want to tease us with?
There will be another book out in the Fall. I thought it was done but now I’m making some last minute changes. I’m superstitious enough that I don’t want to mention the title or what it’s about. It’s a mystery, rather complex but more conventional than The Rules of Dreaming.
If you had a reporter follow you around for the day, what would the readers get to see in your daily schedule?
I don’t really follow a schedule, but on a typical day, following me around would be a very boring experience. Just ask my wife.
When you begin your stories, do you go with the flow, or go with an outline?
I always go with the flow, based on the initial concept that inspired me to start the story. I brainstorm as many ideas, incidents, scenes, dialogues, descriptions, etc. that I can from that concept before trying to map it all out into a plot.
Is it hard coming up with titles or characters names?
Titles are hard. But when you’re working on a book for months or years, eventually something comes to you. Characters’ names just pop into my head; often I change them before the book is put in final form.
If you were to replenish your cabinets with one junk food, what would it be?
Is music a factor for you while you are writing? Do certain songs put you in the right frame of mind to write certain stories?
Music is so important to me that it automatically monopolizes my attention, so I never have it on when I’m writing or otherwise trying to concentrate. Playing the piano is one of my chief pleasures in life.
What do you feel is the most important thing that a first-time author should know?
My philosophy on this is based on years of writing without commercial success. Maybe it’s sour grapes, but here it is. If you enjoy writing, do it, and do the best job you can. Welcome criticism if it makes you a better writer and/or a better person. Enjoy what you’re doing, and write what only you can write. Maybe the publishing industry will catch up to you, maybe not. They’re running a business; you’re life isn’t a business. Very few people make a significant amount of money from writing fiction, so you’d have to do something else for a living anyway. If you just write because you enjoy it, keep improving, and say what you have to say, you will get 90% of the benefits that you could expect from being a commercially successful writer, without the negatives.
Bruce Hartman has been a bookseller, pianist, songwriter and attorney. He lives with his wife in
. His previous novel, Perfectly Healthy Man Drops Dead, was published by Salvo Press in
The Rules of Dreaming by Bruce Hartman
The Rules of Dreaming
A novel of madness, music — and murder.
A beautiful opera singer hangs herself on the eve of her debut at the Met. Seven years later the opera she was rehearsing—Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann—begins to take over the lives of her two schizophrenic children, the doctors who treat them and everyone else who crosses their paths, until all are enmeshed in a world of deception and delusion, of madness and ultimately of evil and death. Onto this shadowy stage steps Nicole P., a graduate student who discovers that she too has been assigned a role in the drama. What strange destiny is being worked out in their lives?
Nicole was nimble and petite and very pretty. No, I take that back—“pretty” doesn’t come close to doing her justice. She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, with cascading red hair and a bold, astonished look in her eyes that made her seem at once wild and angelic. But since my profession has liberated society from all of its taboos save one—that a psychiatrist shall not fall in love with his patient—all I could do was listen sympathetically as she pulled herself back together and prepared to return to her studies. I put her on appropriate medications and she began to make progress immediately.
As it happened, Nicole had been in the lounge when Hunter sat down to play the piano...
“Nicole,” I said, “did you hear Hunter playing the piano this afternoon?”
“Yes I did.” She stopped in the doorway, framed in the shadows that darkened the adjoining hall. “It was impressive, wasn’t it?”
“Impressive isn’t the word, when you realize that he’s never had a lesson or even touched a piano before.”
Her smile faded. “That’s uncanny.”
“Do you know what piece of music he was playing?”
“I think I’ve heard it before. One of the German Romantics, I think, maybe Schumann.”
She started through the door, but just before she disappeared into the shadows she turned back around and her eyes caught a sparkle of the afternoon light. “He went mad, you know.”
“Who went mad?”
“Robert Schumann. The composer. Died in an insane asylum.”
Buy at Amazon
Buy at Amazon
Bruce will award a $50 Amazon or BN.com gift card (winner's choice) to one randomly drawn commenter.
Follow the tour and comment; the more comments you leave, the better the chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2013/04/virtual-book-tour-rules-of-dreaming-by.html
"Unconventional" is such a good word to describe what I imagine this story to be like.
Thank you for hosting
Don't know if this question has already been asked & answered but if so, please forgive my senior moment: If your book were to be made into a film, who would you like to see play the main characters?
kareninnc at gmail dot com
Great interview, I enjoyed learning more about you.
It is so rare to find an author who writes such a variety of stories. Multi-faceted author. Sounds like you really love to write.
"Easily inspired, hard to focus"...I adore that description. I wish that someone would describe me in that way. WOW.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com
I'm glad that you are guilt-free about your mojito moments! Life's too short to be upset about fruity tasty beverages! lol
andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com
Hi! Thanks for sharing the blurb and excerpt! What did you struggle the most with when writing your book?
hense1kk (at) cmich (dot ) edu
Thanks for Dawn for hosting this guest blog post, and thanks to all the commenters for your interesting comments.
In response to Karen H., I did prepare a wish list for the (highly unlikely!) movie cast, and here it is:
Nicole - Keira Knightley
Ned Hoffmann – Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Dubin - Johnny Depp
Miles Palmer – George Clooney
Antonia Morgan - Kristen Stewart
Hunter Morgan – Logan Lerman
Peter Bartolli - Michael Emerson
Olympia – Scarlett Johansson
Julietta - Mila Kunis
If any of you have read the book and disagree or would like to nominate your own stars, I'll be running a feature on my blog where people can write in and make their own suggestions. I hope you will become a follower of my (infrequent) posts: brucehartmanbooks.com/blog/
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