Tell us about your currant release:
Dance The Moon Down is an historical drama set against the background of the First World War. The novel attempts a new slant on an old theme by focusing on the lives of the women left behind. The story’s central character, Victoria, has been married for barely a year when her poet husband, Gerald, volunteers to fight and then goes missing on the Western Front leaving her to fend for herself in a male dominated society. Her struggle to survive and her refusal to give up hope that her husband will one day return give the novel, I feel, a uniquely poignant flavour.
How do you develop your plots and your characters. Do you use any sort of formula?
In the case of Dance The Moon Down, about 75% of the novel is based on actual events and that, to a certain degree, dictated what shape it would take. Usually I begin with an initial idea and then write up the parts that interest me most until I have several chunks of disembodied plot. After that it’s a case of marrying them together until I have a first draft. Then it’s a matter of rewrite after rewrite until I’m satisfied with the finished manuscript. As a matter of interest, Dance The Moon Down ran to six drafts.
My characters tend to be a pastiche of many people I’ve met over the years. Again, the story generally dictates the kind of people I’m looking for. Then I add on various quirks and foibles until I have exactly the character I want. It would be nice if we could do that in real life, wouldn’t it.
When in the day/night do you write. How long per day?
I prefer to write at night, it’s quieter then and I can hear my thoughts. I usually start at 11pm and go on until 3am, sometimes longer. That’s seven days a week, of course.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
Knowing when to stop. What to leave in and what to take out. It’s deciding when a story is finished without tinkering all the spontaneity out of it.
What is the most important attribute to remaining sane as a writer?
Personally I think that a degree of insanity is a pre-requisite for anyone wanting to be a writer. Nevertheless, it has to be a sense of humour. Be passionate about your writing, but never take yourself too seriously.
Do you have a website or blog?
Yes. My novel is on Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00A4E7JGA There you can read sample chapters and catch up with some of my reviews. I also have a Good reads author page. www.goodreads.com/author/show5858365.R_L_Bartram/blog where you can read the bulk of my reviews, start a discussion and meet my friends and fans. Feel free to drop in anytime.
Entice us. What future projects are you considering?
At the moment I’m researching for another novel set against the background of the American Civil War. This one also has a female central character (my favourite). As with Dance The Moon Down, I think I’ve found a new slant on an old theme, but that’s all I’m saying for now.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers. If so, what are they?
Firstly, write for the love of it. Be true to yourself and never give up, even in the face of the fiercest criticism. The literary world is a tough place to be recognised in, but there’s always a place for a good story.
In 1910, no one believed there would ever be a war with Germany. Safe in her affluent middle-class life, the rumours held no significance for Victoria either. It was her father's decision to enroll her at university that began to change all that. There she befriendes the rebellious and outspoken Beryl Whittaker, an emergent suffragette, but it is her love for Gerald Avery, a talented young poet from a neighbouring university that sets the seal on her future. After a clandestine romance, they marry in January 1914, but with the outbreak of the First World War, Gerald volunteeres but within months has gone missing in France. Convinced that he is still alive, Victoria's initial attempts to discover what has become of him, implicate her in a murderous assault on Lord Kitchener resulting in her being interrogated as a spy, and later tempted to adultery. Now virtually destitute, Victoria is reduced to finding work as a common labourer on a run down farm, where she discovers a world of unimaginable ignorance and poverty. It is only her conviction that Gerald will some day return that sustaines her through the dark days of hardship and privation as her life becomes a battle of faith against adversity.
Born in Edmonton, London, in 1951, Robert spent several of his formative years living in Cornwall, where he began to develop a life long love of nature and the rural way of life. He began writing in his early teens and much of his short romantic fiction was subsequently published in various national periodicals including “Secrets”, “Red Letter” and “The People’s Friend”
His passion for the history of the early twentieth century is second only to his love of writing. It was whilst researching in this area that he came across the letters and diaries of some women who had lived through the trauma of the Great War. What he read in them inspired him to write his debut novel Dance The Moon Down, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Robert is single and lives and writes in Hertfordshire, England.