Thursday, June 13, 2013

Liza O'Connor interviews Bruce Hartman-The Rules of Dreaming

Wake up peeps! It appears there are Rules of Dreaming, which no doubt means we are doing it all wrong. However, I'm sure author Bruce Hartman and his book THE RULES OF DREAMING will get us back on track.

Peep Rep: It might not apply to us. Could be the rules his characters have to follow.

Liza: Well we won't know until we interrogate him, now will we?

Peep Rep: I love interrogations. Is there a prize too?

Liza: Yes, there is. Bruce will award a $50 gift card (Amazon or B&N-Winner's choice) to one lucky commenter during his tour.

Peep Rep. So I have to leave a meaningful comment and my email address.

Liza: Exactly. So Bruce come on in to my 
interrogation...I mean interview room.


Bruce: Hello everyone, Liza, thanks for having me. Wow, what a dreary setting for an interview.

Liza: It get's worse. First I need to hook you up to a lie detector.

Bruce: Why do you think you need a lie detector?

Liza: Because as authors, we tend to make things up. So I have to make sure my followers get the real story.

Peep Rep: She just likes to terrorize her male visitors.

Liza: That's not true. I terrorize plenty of female authors.  I am a non-discriminatory terrorist. Now let's get this interview on the road.

What is your favorite part of writing? 

Bruce: I like the whole process: coming up with the ideas, thinking them through, the actual process of writing it all down, and finally sewing it all together in an aesthetically satisfying fashion. 

Liza: Is there anything you don’t like about being a writer?

Bruce: The only part I don’t like is the marketing end, though I realize that since writing is a form of communication, it’s important to try and find an audience for your work.  And when I do connect with the audience it gives me a thrill.

Peep Rep: By which he means he doesn't like being hooked up to a lie detector and the only reason he is doing so is on the slim hope you may introduce him to a reader who wants his book.

Liza: By the  way, don't respond to Peep Rep. Only I get to do that, which I will do when he gets within swatting distance.

How does your family feel about your writing and you being an author?

Bruce: They regard it as a somewhat crackbrained activity that has the virtue of keeping me locked in my study and away from the TV when they want to be watching it. 

Liza: Better than expecting you to become a best seller overnight.

Has a secondary character ever threatened to take over your book? What happened?

Bruce: In fact that’s what happened in this book.  Nicole was originally intended to be a secondary character but she gradually became the female hero.  I think this was because I sort of fell in love with her.  I identified with her intellectual preoccupations, her compassion for the schizophrenic twins, and the sense of bewilderment that led her to play such a significant role in the story.   The irony is that a key theme of the book—and the subject of Nicole’s doctoral dissertation—is the idea of a story taking over people’s lives and of people becoming characters in someone else’s story.

Liza: I often feel like a character in somebody's book.

How'd you come up with this story?

Bruce: Years ago I imagined a story about a patient in a mental hospital who sits down at the piano in the patient lounge and flawlessly plays a difficult piece of classical music.  Although this usually requires years of instruction and practice, the patient’s psychiatrist discovers that he has no musical training or experience.  So the question I started with is:  Where did this music come from?  Where does any music come from?  Does music come to you as a kind of inspired madness, or does it come from outside the human mind?

Liza: Way too deep for me. Who's your favorite character in the book?

Bruce: Peter Bartolli.  He developed as a unique character who doesn’t seem to resemble any of the cliches of fiction.

Liza: I like unique characters. What's your favorite line in the story?

Bruce: “Instead of a dream censor, maybe what we have is a reality censor that operates while we’re awake, filtering out the essential incoherence of the world so we can survive in our dreamlike state for another day.”

Liza: Again with the deepness! 
So let's lighten it up. If you had to live on a deserted island with one author, who would it be?

Bruce: Mark Twain.  He was a curmudgeon but he could spin a yarn.

Liza: You'd probably both die from doing nothing but telling tales, but you'd go happy.

We all have secrets. Tell us about one your character’s secrets and what will happen if it gets out.

Bruce: Miss Francine Whipple, the librarian of the small public library in the town where this story takes place, has had a secret for many years.  Years ago, she found a letter stuck into a book that was returned to the library by a man whose wife had recently committed suicide.   Miss Whipple read the letter and it told her things that no one was supposed to know.  Instead of giving it to the husband, she kept it a secret, a decision which had grave consequences for her and others years later.

Liza: Darn it! Now I'm going to have to read your book to find out what the letter said. Man, you lead me straight into that trap.

Peep Rep: Hi five Bruce! 

Liza: Hold! Don't hi-five with Peep Rep. Hi-fiving is a form of communication.

Bruce: You have a great deal of rules.

Liza: Me? I've only one. You have a whole book about The Rules of Dreaming!

Peep Rep: Which we should be getting to.

Liza: Right you are.

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.”



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 2008.  


Liza: Don't forget to leave a comment to enter for the $50 Gift Card. To improve your chances, follow Bruce through his tour.


  1. Loads of fun thank you.

    I want to know what the letter said too. Look what you did there!!


  2. Wonderful interview. This sound like an intriguing book. I tweeted.

  3. Another fun interview, Liza.

  4. Ha! Poor Bruce! Liza, you're taking over where Wonder Woman left off with her golden lariat! Way to go. Great excerpt :)

    1. Thanks Sheri, I have absolutely no idea what you mean, but it sounds like a great compliment.

  5. Really great interview. This story sound really unusual and unique. Hope it all ends well.

  6. Great interview, Liza. Love the idea of this book. I too need to know what was in that letter! Need to read this! I tweeted.

    1. Well I guess we'll both just have to buy and read the book. I'm telling you Bruce is a tricky guy.

  7. Very nice interview

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  8. Sorry for the late post. I’m playing catch-up here so I’m just popping in to say HI and sorry I missed visiting with you on party day! Hope you all had a good time!
    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  9. After reading about the book, I have to read the rest of the story. It sounds like the kind I like to read.

  10. Thanks so much for sharing this interview! I'm liking the sounds of both you and the book bruce!

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com


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