Welcome author Bruce Hartman today to the Reading Nook blog.
get us started can you tell us a little about what you are working on or have
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.
would you describe yourself using only five words?
Wide-ranging interests, literature, music, history.
you have any guilty pleasures?
Mojitos (although I’m not much into
we asked your muse to describe you using five words, what do you think they
Easily inspired, hard to focus.
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
you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Italy or the South of France.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
you were to replenish your cabinets with one junk food, what would it be?
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.
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
About the Author:
Bruce Hartman has
been a bookseller, pianist, songwriter and attorney. He lives with his wife in Philadelphia. 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
Bruce will award a $50 Amazon or BN.com gift card (winner's choice) to one randomly drawn commenter.