Interview with Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard, author of Temptation Rag! With giveaway!

It's a fun day on the blog today! I have a great interview with Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard, author of Temptation Rag: A Novel!

I really enjoyed this book - you can read my review here. I hope you enjoy the interview. We also have a giveaway at the end of this post, so be sure to enter!

Hello Elizabeth and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Temptation Rag: A Novel!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

It took me quite a long time to realize my dream of becoming a novelist. In the beginning, I was distracted by a competing love, which was music. After nearly a decade as a touring musician, I transitioned to the fields of public relations and editorial. For the last eight years or so, I’ve been a full-time writer. During that period, I have written two historical novels and am working on a third. My first book, a medical thriller entitled The Beauty Doctor, takes place in the early 1900s when the field of cosmetic surgery was young and dangerous. My new release, Temptation Rag: A Novel, introduces readers to the ragtime era and its most fascinating figures while telling an emotional story of love, betrayal, and ambition.

What inspired you to write Temptation Rag: A Novel?

Temptation Rag started out as a book loosely based on the life of my husband’s grandfather, Mike Bernard, who won the title “Ragtime King of the World” in 1900 and went on to become one of the most famous ragtime pianists of all time. It evolved, however, into a story weaving together the lives of several historical figures plus one mostly imaginary one. The narrative is told from multiple points of view.

What research did you undertake when writing Temptation Rag: A Novel?

The story of ragtime is really complicated---not only from a musical standpoint but from a cultural perspective. Fortunately, there are many excellent books on the subject, and I read as many as I could get my hands on. I also corresponded with several ragtime scholars, who were very helpful and generous with their knowledge. And, of course, there was the family “lore” about Mike Bernard, most of which was not very flattering. It was a combination of all these things, and the liberties of a fiction-writer’s imagination, that served as the basis for my story.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Temptation Rag: A Novel?

Besides wanting readers to experience the excitement of the ragtime era, I hope they will see its injustices---for example, the way in which African American-inspired music was largely appropriated by white musicians, many of whom made fortunes on it. I hope, most of all, that the characters and their struggles to discover who they are and what really matters in their lives will resonate with readers.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I can’t think of one particular scene above all others, but I always enjoy creating settings that evoke a vivid sense of time and place. Writing about the colorful world of vaudeville gave me lots of opportunity for that.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

It is challenging to write a scene in which high-stakes emotional conflicts come to a head. Especially in those kinds of scenes, it can be tricky to find the right balance between characters’ thoughts and actions---meaning, how they really feel versus what they say and do.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew from about fifth grade that I wanted to write books. I spent the whole summer between fifth and sixth grades working on a mystery novel in the style of the Nancy Drew books that I so loved as a child. I was lucky to have wonderful first-edition copies handed down from my mother.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I often start writing early in the morning, before having breakfast and taking my dog for a walk. I come back to my computer later in the morning, take time out for lunch, and often work throughout the afternoon. While taking an exercise break on the elliptical, I often will review on my iPad whatever the last thing I’ve written is. I convert my manuscript, at whatever stage it is, to Kindle format so that it reads just like a book, and I find that’s the best way to really get a good feel for how it’s working.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Probably my greatest challenge is my tendency to compare myself to others. As a writer, it’s important to have your own distinct voice and to believe in that voice. While I think it is really important to read a lot and learn from other writers, it is essential not to “lose” what is special about one’s own approach to storytelling.

Who are your writing inspirations?

There are so many writers I admire that it’s difficult to name only a few. But when I was writing my first novel, The Beauty Doctor, I often would refer back for inspiration to my favorite books by Edith Wharton, Megan Chance, Sarah Waters, and Sue Monk Kidd.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Maybe not the first but the first to make a great and lasting impression on me was Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

What is the last historical novel you read?

The last was My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I love to read Scientific American. I have been a student of the I Ching for many years. I am happiest hanging out at home.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

As a writer, I really appreciate that readers of historical fiction are life-long learners who have a great deal of curiosity about things outside their personal experience.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

Definitely it’s the Victorian Era through World War II.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I love composing music. I enjoy nature, gardening and hiking. I am fascinated by antiques---Persian rugs and tapestries, Venetian glass, old books and sheet music covers. And, of course, I love reading.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

My next historical novel is also set in the late Victorian era and early 20th century. It is based on the true story of two famous sisters in conflict, one being an idealist, the other a materialist, and it includes mystery, a touch of the occult, and many outrageous but true happenings.

Ooohh, that sounds wonderful! I can't wait to hear more! Thank you for spending time with us today, Elizabeth.

Temptation Rag: A Novel by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

Publication Date: December 3, 2018
Belle Epoque Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 308 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

From the author of The Beauty Doctor, Finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award, 2017 AZ Literary Awards, and a Medallion Honoree of the Book Readers Appreciation Group.

Seventeen-year-old May Convery, unhappy with her privileged life in turn-of-the-century New York City, dreams of becoming a poet. When she meets the talented young Mike Bernard, an aspiring concert pianist, she immediately falls in love. But after their secret liaison is discovered, neither is prepared for the far-reaching consequences that will haunt them for decades. As Mike abandons serious music to ruthlessly defend his hard-won title, Ragtime King of the World, May struggles to find her voice as an artist and a woman. It is not until years after their youthful romance, when they cross paths again, that they must finally confront the truth about themselves and each other. But is it too late?

The world of ragtime is the backdrop for a remarkable story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness. From vaudeville’s greatest stars to the geniuses of early African American musical theater, an unforgettable cast of real-life characters populates this richly-fictionalized historical saga.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters | IndieBound

Praise for Temptation Rag

"Fascinating real-life characters make Temptation Rag an emotional and page-turning story of passion, ambition, and desire." - Megan Chance, bestselling author of Bone River and Inamorata

"Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard captures the style of the ragtime era. Music, art and culture spring from every page of this delightfully artistic work." - Readers' Favorite Book Review, 5 stars

"Terrific historical research and deft writing provide a striking portrait of racial and gender inequality in the ragtime era. An unforgettable and deeply human story." - Frederic Tulsky, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

"Ms. Bernard weaves her knowledge of music with true historical characters and fictionalized ones into a syncopated symphony of human drama." -Kathryn Wood, author of Sea Snow: the gentle haunting of a 19th century lighthouse

"A gripping page-turner that has romance, history and music. A smart retelling of history through multiple points of view." - SA Examiner Book Review

About the Author

Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is an award-winning author of historical fiction. Her novel The Beauty Doctor is a suspenseful tale that takes place in the early days of cosmetic surgery—when the world of medicine was a bit like the Wild West and beauty doctors were the newest breed of outlaw. Temptation Rag: A Novel immerses readers in the bawdy atmosphere of vaudeville and early twentieth-century African American musical theater in a story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness.

Elizabeth currently lives in Arizona with her husband and their much-loved and very spoiled black Lab.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 18
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, February 19
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, February 20
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, February 22
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages

Saturday, February 23
Guest Post at The Chocolate Lady's Book Reviews

Monday, February 25
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.

Tuesday, February 26
Excerpt at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, February 27
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 1
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Monday, March 4
Review at Macsbooks

Wednesday, March 6
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 8
Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, March 12
Review at Reader then Blogger

Friday, March 15
Review at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away copies of Bernard's other novel, The Beauty Doctor. One paperback and two eBooks are up for grabs. To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Temptation Rag

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