Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I started writing at age seventeen. I experimented with various genres, including horror and science fiction, with little success. Believe it or not science fiction wasn’t very popular in those days. It would be several years before “Star wars” turned that around.
Funnily enough, it was writing science fiction that first got me published. I sent some of my short stories to an agent. She turned them down, but suggested I try my hand at romance. After several attempts, she finally accepted my work and I was published.
Since then I’ve always enjoyed writing romance. Combining that with my passion for history produced my first published novel “Dance the Moon Down” It’s set against the background of the First World War. Looking for a new slant on this well used genre, I chose a strong female protagonist for my heroine. So much had been written about the men who fought in that war, I felt it was time to give the ladies a chance. It worked for me. I received over thirty five star reviews and was nominated as book of the month on “Wall To Wall” books.
Between writing books, I enjoy collecting antiques (mostly books) going to the theatre and eating out.
I’m single and live and write in Hertfordshire.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is “Whippoorwill”. It’s an historical romance (my preferred genre) set against the background of the American Civil War. Again, I’ve chosen a strong female protagonist for my heroine. Ceci Prejean is a southern belle who falls passionately in love with a handsome young northerner, Trent Sinclaire, well before the advent of the civil war. When war breaks out, Trent goes north to fight, leaving Ceci in the south. The death of her family, at the hands of the Union, propel her into the shadowy world of espionage. Yes, there were women spies in the American civil war, lots of them, on both sides.
After a good deal of research, I couldn’t help but be impressed by their courage and determination. That’s what inspired me to write “Whippoorwill”
When “Dance the Moon Down” was published, a lot of reviewers had reservations about a man writing about women. Could it really be authentic? Well, judging from the reviews, they’ve certainly changed their minds. One reservation levelled at “Whippoorwill” was, ‘A brit writing about Americans, authenticity is the buzz word’ Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Nothing that seems unusual to me, but that’s me. I prefer to write at night, it’s quieter then and you can hear yourself think. I usually write from eleven pm to three am. I’m fuelled by endless cup of tea, which I drink from a pint Disney mug (a souvenir from my sister’s trip to Disneyland Paris) and a constant stream of cigarettes. It’s a bad habit, I know, but I’m past saving. I always write in longhand first. In fact I commit nothing to the computer until the book is completely finished and corrected. This way, I can write as fast as I think, without having to concentrate on which buttons I’m pressing. Normally I write all the parts that come to me first, until I have dozens of fragments. Then it’s a case of marrying them together. With “Whippoorwill” I wrote chapter twenty three first.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
So many authors have influenced me. Among the foremost are Herman Melville. He was so far ahead of his time and so under appreciated in his own time. The psychological themes in “Moby Dick” are outstanding, considering when they were written.
Another is Ernest Hemmingway. His understated style of writing really packs a punch.
Certainly Shakespeare has to be mentioned, not that I compare myself to him in any way at all, but his ability to engage his audience with a comedy of manners is well worth studying.
I suppose everything I’ve read has influenced me in some way, but I have to say that life itself and living it, has, by far been the biggest influence on my writing.
What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m busy promoting “Whippoorwill”. It’s brand new and is claiming all my attention. When I wrote “Dance the Moon Down” I enjoyed doing it. It was hard work but worthwhile. The funny thing about “Whippoorwill” is that I loved writing it. Every day that I worked on it was like a holiday. When it was finished, it was like saying goodbye to an old friend. I guess I’m having trouble letting it go. However, having said that, new ideas are already crowding into my mind. Who knows where they’ll take me?
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
The Indie book Reviewers list is invaluable. I found Awesome Gang there. I also try to contact as many reviewers as I can over the internet. Many of them are so helpful. The amount of effort they put into promoting books for free has to be applauded. I personally feel indebted to them. They are the unsung hero’s of the Indie publishing world.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Above all, believe in yourself, sometimes you’ll be the only one who does.
Writing is like life, the achievement is all in the journey, not the destination.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Never give up. No matter how old you are, or where you live, or what’s happening in your life, follow your dream.
What are you reading now?
At the moment, precious little, although there are a number of volumes tempting me.
Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” is a front runner.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Hopefully another novel. Although what and when I can’t say. Doubtless something will pop into my head unheralded. Just like “Whippoorwill”. The idea for that came to me when I was weeding the garden, go figure?
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Something by Ray Bradbury, I’ve always admired his work. Probably A.S. Byatt as well. Also a collection of the Victorian poets, Keats, Shelly etc, I can’t get enough of that. I might even include the Bible. I’m not particularly religious, but on a desert island, I’d have plenty of time to read it.
Author Websites and Profiles
Robert Bartram Website
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