THE RULES OF DREAMING by Bruce Hartman
AN INTERVIEW WITH BRUCE
-What book and/or experience made you want to be a writer?
When I was a kid most of my play involved imagining myself in a fantasy world—don’t ask me why—and I think writing fiction is a continuation of that. As a writer, the challenge is to create a coherent, consistent fictional world that a reader can believe in, and still tell an interesting story.
-What genre(s) do you write?
I’ve written a couple of unpublished comedies, then one mystery, Perfectly Healthy Man Drops Dead, which was published in 2008. I’ve got a couple more mysteries in the pipeline, and a couple of comedies. I also write short stories, mostly of a satirical or philosophical nature. In general my writing seems to be heading off in a philosophical direction.
-THE RULES OF DREAMING Blurb
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?
These aren’t spoilers, but I’ll give you a few more incidents that shape the story. It takes place in and around a posh private mental hospital in a small town in upstate New York.
A mental patient with no musical training or experience sits down at the piano and plays a fiendishly difficult piece of classical music…
A young doctor’s life spins out of control as he falls under the spell of three irresistible women…
A beautiful graduate student, struggling with her thesis, suspects that her psychiatrist is ruled by the fantasies of a poet who’s been dead for two hundred years…
A blackmailer stumbles on an isolated town with more crimes on its conscience than he could have imagined.
-For aspiring writers, any tips?
This isn’t practical advice, but I would say: Write the book that only you can write. The reason it’s not practical is that the whole publishing industry—including your agent if you’re lucky enough to have one—wants you to write a different book. They want you to write the book they would have written, which, no surprise, would be a lot like some recent best seller, only better. They are running a business. Still, they’re not necessarily the best judge of what will make them a lot of money. They rejected John Grisham’s first book, and Tom Clancy’s, and Dan Brown’s. So write the book that only you can write, and if they reject it, try to get as much detailed, objective criticism as you can stand before you write the next one.
-What’s your favorite book/genre to read?
I’ve read a million mysteries, but since I started writing them I don’t read many of them anymore. Now that I know how they work, I’m sort of hypercritical and can always see the ending coming at about page 25. But I’m always looking for good ones, especially if they’re funny, or quirky, or literary without being fatuous. Outside of mysteries I read a fair amount of general fiction and non-fiction, history and philosophy, including a lot of classics from earlier centuries and different cultures.
-What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
I think my favorite thing is a story called “Kafka’s Creative Writing Teacher,” which, needless to say, nobody wants to publish.
Bruce Hartman lives with his wife in Philadelphia. He has worked as a pianist, music teacher, bookseller and attorney and has been writing fiction for many years. His first novel, Perfectly Healthy Man Drops Dead, won the Salvo Press Mystery Novel Award and was published by Salvo Press in 2008. If all goes well, a steady stream of new books will be coming out over the next few years. The first of these, The Rules of Dreaming, will be published by Swallow Tail Press in May 2013.
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I really, really, really hope this never happens to me or anyone I know. Heh
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