I was born in Edmonton, London in 1951 but spent most of my formative years living in Cornwall, where I began to develop a life long love of nature and the rural way of life. I began writing in my early teens and much of my short romantic fiction was subsequently published in various national periodicals including “Red Letter”, “Secrets” and “The People’s Friend”.
Never one to let the necessity of earning a living get in the way of my writing, I’ve continued to write for most of my life whilst holding down a succession of jobs including Health Food Shop Manager, Typewriter Mechanic and Taxidermist – yes, you read that correctly.
My passion for the history of the early twentieth century is second only to my love of writing. It was whilst researching in this period that I came across the letters and diaries of some women who had lived through the trauma of the Great War. What I read in them inspired me to write my debut novel. “Dance the Moon Down” and the rest, as they say, is history.
What inspires you to write?
I suppose it’s the natural urge to communicate with other human beings, but not on an every day level, not voice to voice, it’s a connection of emotions. There’s a vast difference between what you can put down in words, (rather like writing a letter) and what you’re inclined to say face to face. We all have the same mix of emotions and if the author is skillful enough he can tap into them.
It’s the urge to share that vision, that idea. Can I reach them? Can I move them? Will they see what I see?
The ability to motivate others, if only for a short time, across the world and across the years.
Tell us about your writing process.
For me it starts with an initial idea. It can come from anywhere, a newspaper article, a verse of a song, or a fragment of overheard conversation. I generally kick the idea around in my head for a few weeks, making very basic notes to see if it will hold up. If it does, I then start to outline the basic story. I do everything in longhand at this stage. It’s much easier and faster to scribble an idea down on a note pad than to tap it into a computer.
At this stage what I’m looking for is the shape of the overall story, certainly the beginning, middle and end. Very often I know how a story will end, before I’ve written the beginning. In fact, the end can often dictate how a novel will begin.
I often find that the type of story you choose generally dictates the kind of characters you need. Whether they turn out to be nice or nasty comes later in the planning.
Once I have enough notes and research, I tend to write up the parts of the novel that interest me most, until I have chunks of disembodied manuscript, then it’s a case of marrying them together. The first draft is never the only draft. I rewrite and rewrite until I’m completely satisfied with the finished article. My debut novel “Dance the Moon Down” took two years of research, fourteen months to write and ran to six drafts.
I prefer to write at night, usually from 11pm to 3am, it’s quieter then and I can hear myself think. I’m fueled entirely by black tea which I drink from a pint mug. Most nights I get through about eight pints.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Not quite. I’m more like a chameleon, I tend to become each character, trying to feel what they’re feeling, to get a sense of how they would react to the situation I’ve created. It’s all about manipulating characters and situations to achieve the effect you’re trying to create.
As an author you have an almost God-like power over your characters. You can make them say and do anything, but for the sake of the novel, you shouldn’t.
For me, my characters become friends, people who are a part of my life, briefly. When a novel is finished, it’s time to say goodbye to them, but, as with all close friends, you never really forget them.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write for the love of it. Never give up, even in the face of the worst criticism. Always believe in yourself, sometimes you may be the only one who does.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Extensive research suggests to me that opportunities for new authors in traditional publishing are shrinking. Virtually all publishing houses, these days, will only accept agented material. There are only a finite number of agents, most of which are completely full and disinclined to take on new authors.
Also, it seems to me that less emphasis is being placed on an author’s ability to write and more on what kind of a personality they are. Of course there are, and always will be, exceptions, but this was my experience in the main.
Because of this I decided to go it alone, as so many have before me. It has been the most marvelous experience. I’ve learned a lot and made many new friends.
I still think it’s worth trying traditional publishing before you do anything else. If you should decide to self publish be very careful about who you choose to do it with. Although there are many reputable firms out there, there are still a few sharks to beware of.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The future looks very bright indeed. There will always be books and authors. However, I notice what seems to be a gradual shift in power, from traditional to private publishing. I feel that unless traditional publishers and agents ease their iron grip on the industry they could lose it altogether and be displaced. The reputation of private publishing is improving all the time and offers new authors an infinite array of new opportunities. This is good news for readers as well. Instead of having to read the books sanctioned by a few hundred agents, they’ll eventually have thousands of individual and exceptional novels to choose from.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: Historical Drama, Romance
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
Link To R.L. Bartram. Page On Amazon
Your Social Media Links