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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 3: Question 2

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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When you were writing Murder at the Ocean Forest, did you find it difficult to craft the characters?

Crafting the characters was somewhat difficult for Murder at the Ocean Forest since it is a period piece. I had to take into consideration people’s mannerisms and beliefs and emotions that may have been a part of the World War II era. I had to ask myself what motivated people during the war and how did the war impact them psychologically and emotionally. I talked to some people I know who were around during the 1940s and who could remember the times.

As you know, each character in Murder at the Ocean Forest is extremely unique, and since the book is very character driven I went into some great detail about them all and their mannerisms and you even get a glimpse into their thoughts and point of view. Up until the first murder, you get a chapter or part of a chapter from each character’s point of view, so it gives the reader a chance to get to know the characters and what they think and how they perceive some things. That makes for a very interesting dynamic between all the characters when the reader puts everything together.

What was more difficult was trying to craft the setting at the old Ocean Forest Hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Ocean Forest Hotel was demolished in the 1970s, long before I was introduced to Myrtle Beach. So, I’m trying to write a story set in a place that doesn’t exist anymore and for which there is really very limited information. I had some photographs to go by to get an idea of what the hotel looked like on the outside and to some extent on the inside, but I didn’t have much to work with. I interviewed some people who had local knowledge and who shared with me their memories of the place. After that, I set to work to recreate the Ocean Forest Hotel in the 1940s, and from the feedback I’ve received from a number of readers who had actually been to the Ocean Forest Hotel, I’m told I did a pretty good job at capturing the place in my book. I’m glad I could do it justice.

 

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 3: Question 1

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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What makes writing mystery stories exciting?

You have to be very methodical when you write a mystery novel, because it’s usually a very analytical process. I start and build up the characters in anticipation of the problem. The problem is usually a murder that the reader must try to figure out who did it or an event that leaves the reader trying to figure out why it happened or why other things in the story are happening. You’ve got to be very careful in what you give the reader in the way of clues because that obviously has an impact on how the story ends. And of course, as the writer you get to choose who did it and why. So I think it’s pretty exciting to be able to present a problem, lead the reader along with some series of events and clues that lead up to the dénouement, and then come up with whatever ending you as the writer want. A lot of times it may not be the ending that the readers want, but as the author you get to decide how you want it to end.

It’s exciting for me to be able to start with a blank piece of paper and make the story and the characters and the places come to life for the reader. It’s sort of like an artist with a blank canvas. You start with nothing and you can do whatever you want with the art you create. You get to fill the pages with a world of your own creation. You can bend the rules or you can suspend reality, because in the end it’s about creating something enjoyable for the readers, and to do that sometimes you have to let your imagination run wild and see where it goes. You can be bold if you want in your characters or your storyline. The writer has great freedom of expression in writing the story, and it’s exciting for me to pull a lot of different elements together into a story that makes the reader want to keep turning the page for more.     

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 11

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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Where do you get your ideas for your books?

They’re all right up here in my head. I guess it’s divine inspiration, but it all just comes to me. Sometimes I’ll have ideas come to me in dreams. I know it sounds weird, but dreams are weird most of the time. Other times, I’ll hear something on the news and that’ll give me a spark of an idea. For example, a guy robs and bank then drives off and is found dead in his car later that day with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. My mind goes to work wondering what happened? Did he really kill himself? And then the story takes off from there. The book I write won’t be about a bank robber that ends up dead, but it’ll be a premise of someone found dead in the car from an apparent suicide…or was it? Sometimes, I’ll just methodically sit down and start jotting notes of ideas that spring to mind—brainstorming.

I get asked a lot if a storyline was based on a real life experience that I’ve had or if the characters are based on real people that I know. I hate to disappoint anyone, but I lead a pretty boring life. None of my books are based on real life experiences. I’ve never been involved in a murder investigation. I’ve never been involved in any political conspiracy. None of the characters in my fiction books are really real people…unless I make an appearance in the book. Of course, Conversations on the Bench is about real people that I knew and a real experience with them, but that’s not a work of fiction…at least not all of it. I will sometimes name characters after people that I know. People have asked me to do that from time to time, and I don’t mind obliging them but the characters may or may not be like them. I try not to make the character like the person. I don’t want to offend anyone with a description or mannerisms in the books that may not be flattering.        

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 10

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I’ve got a pretty busy schedule all the time between business and writing. There really isn’t much free time outside those activities. I’m pretty much either working or writing sixteen to eighteen hours a day. Granted, most of my time is consumed by business. I don’t really consider writing to be work. What’s the old saying that if you enjoy what you’re doing you’ll never work a day in your life. It’s very true.

So, outside of that, I do like to golf a little bit. I won’t be on the tour anytime soon, but I do enjoy getting out to the course for a nice round in the fresh air, away from the phones and hustle and bustle of life. I like playing different courses throughout the country. Each course is unique in some way, so it’s a new experience each time.

I go to WWE events when my schedule permits. It’s really great entertainment for me, and as you may know, I am THE Best Dressed Fan in the WWE Universe. I’m a lifelong member of the WWE Universe, so I’ve got commitments to watch RAW on Monday nights, Main Event on Wednesday, and SmackDown on Friday night.

I love falconry, but sadly I haven’t dedicated as much time to it as I would like.

I do enjoy a good meal at a nice restaurant. Eating is one of the few pleasures in life, so might as well enjoy it. Much like playing different golf courses, trying new restaurants is a unique experience each time. However, I do find myself gravitating more and more to the restaurants that I know and love. Why take a chance on the unknown when you’ve found something you like?

But ultimately, no matter where I go or what I do, my mind is still active and still engrossed in whatever manuscript I’m working on at the time. It’s not uncharacteristic of me to be sitting at dinner or out on the golf course and pull out a notepad to jot down some notes. I can’t get my mind to completely let go of whatever I’m working on, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some of the best ideas have come up at the most interesting times and places.

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 9

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

As of today, I’ve written five books and the sixth one is in the works. I don’t know that I can pick a favorite one. When you’re a writer they’re all labors of love. It’s like each book is one of my children. They’re all so different, and I love them all. But there are certain things about each one that I like specifically.

Murder at the Ocean Forest is my favorite setting, the old Ocean Forest Hotel which has been gone since the 1970s. All that is left are a few pictures and some artifacts that were saved from the hotel before it was demolished. I went to great lengths to try to capture the setting. It’s really a different time and place; it’s almost like another world. A lot of people don’t appreciate what I did with that book, but it’s probably too difficult a read for those people who don’t appreciate it.

I love the endings of The Versailles Conspiracy and The House of Dark Shadows. In The Versailles Conspiracy there is all this action and political intrigue and the dénouement is in a quiet and calm place, almost removed from the outside world. Nearly all of Lt. Wickland’s questions are answered with questions, but it explains everything to the reader if they haven’t figured it out by that point. All of the information is pretty much in the story in subtle ways, so if the reader really followed everything they shouldn’t be surprised. The House of Dark Shadows has another very memorable ending. It’s one of those ones that you’re not sure at the end whether it was really how things were explained or whether it was something more. I’ve actually had some people who have read that book write to me saying that they thought about for weeks after reading it then they went back and re-read it and they came to a different conclusion. It will keep you wondering.

The Maynwarings is pretty unique in that it is this mystery/political thriller/western. I’m a big fan of the old TV westerns, so this is pretty close to my heart. There are a lot of characters, there’s a lot going on, and there’s a pretty complicated plot.

Conversations on the Bench is special in that it’s about real people. In fact, it’s largely about people I know. It’s a really inspirational book, and I have to tell you I got emotional at times when I was writing it. What I like most about it is how I started the story and how I ended it. I don’t want to say too much or give too much away, but when you read it, you’ll understand. And if you don’t get a little choked up, you must not have a heart. There’s something in this book for everyone. It really speaks to people of all ages and all walks of life, and I think anyone that reads it can relate to the people in this book and the lessons that are being presented in there. More than anything, I hope it enlightens some people and makes a difference in someone’s life.

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 8

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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What books or authors have influenced your writing?



I’d probably have to look to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne, Joseph Conrad and Mary Shelley as having had some impact on my writing style. They’re very detail-oriented and complex in their writing style. Most readers would agree that my books are both descriptive and complex. I’d like to think that Agatha Christie also influenced my writing. She was the first mystery writer that I read and then Poe, so I think they got me on the path to writing mystery novels.



If you look at The House of the Seven Gables, Frankenstein, and Heart of Darkness, I think you’d find a common thread of being rather dark and deep. They are difficult reads, no doubt about that. I guess that’s why they’re called the classics now, but they have a mastery of depth in the characters and plot. There’s this inner conflict in the main characters and the settings help bring it all to life and give it more significance and meaning. If you look at my writing, I’ve been told that my style is very similar to that of the authors I just mentioned. I do develop the characters extensively as well as the setting and often times one or more of the characters have an intense inner conflict. But I don’t think it take it as far as the literary greats. My stories aren’t all about the inner conflict and don’t center on that. I try to craft an engaging story and bring the characters to life in many ways.



I don’t know. I’ve never read any of my own works, but in thinking about the characters and the plot I can see that there are some parallels. Maybe I’m in the same league as Hawthorne, Shelley, Poe, Conrad, or Christie. That’s not for me to say. History will be the judge of that. I just love writing and creating good stories and interesting characters.      

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 7

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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How do you organize ideas for writing?



I usually start out with a notepad and jot down some ideas. They’re usually the bigger picture at first, the concept. This is usually a process that can take months or even years. I can’t just sit down and conjure up the concept and storyline on demand. As things come to me, I’ll jot them down. I might put the notes aside for a while and be working on another project when suddenly it starts to come into focus. That’s happened to me while in flight or on the golf course or over a nice dinner.



So once I have the concept pretty much finalized either on paper or in my mind, I’ll go in and start making some specific notes about major events in the book. At this point I sort of know where everything is going, so I can start filling in the blanks with things that need to happen. The structure at this point really starts taking shape. Once I have the concept, this starts taking shape rather quick, maybe a few weeks. Usually as I’ve been formulating the concept, all the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place in my mind and I have a pretty good idea of the direction it’ll be going.



Oddly enough, I develop the cast of characters next or at least the main characters. I like to know who I’m working with in the book. I’ll start by coming up with names, which is the hardest thing to do for me. I try to make each character’s name consistent with the personae of that character. Then I write a bio for each of the characters. It’s not very extensive but rather just a guide for me as to what I think they look like, what their personality is, what their background is, and so on and so forth. Sometimes I’ll ask myself who would play the role if it were a movie and that will help me come up with the characters, descriptions, etc. I can usually knock this out in a day or so.



Finally, I’ll take everything I have and make an outline, a sequence of events, with the details of each event. At this point it’s just filling in the missing pieces. Everything is pretty well mapped out here in my head but I use this as the written guide so that I can check each item off as I complete it. This usually takes a couple days to finish up.



Do you know what is really amazing for me with this whole process? I still do it all by hand. I write down the entire outline, bios, etc. in one of my notebooks or on a notepad and just go line by line. Each Roman numeral in the outline might be a chapter with each letter or number being a subchapter. And I just follow this roadmap as much as possible. But it never fails that I’ll be working on a manuscript and I’ll do something that wasn’t anticipated in the outline, so then it’s back to the roadmap to see if there’s an alternate route to the end destination. I try not to do this deliberately, but sometimes it happens so I just have to adjust and adapt to the changes that I made to the storyline. Of course, if I do this, I have to go back to the outline and concept to see if it changes anything else.

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 6

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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Would you ever run for political office?

No, don’t look for Digger to get involved in politics. It’s a very dirty business and I don’t want to tarnish my image by being labeled a politician. Sadly, America has evolved from the original intent of our Founding Fathers who envisioned everyday people serving their country in the Congress or public office. They didn’t see it as a career. They were bankers, planters, merchants, and lawyers who went served their time for love of country. It’s not like now where they make a fortune from public life. They did their time and went back home to their jobs and lives. Being President wasn’t seen as the ultimate power; it was a duty that they reluctantly accepted in most cases. Politicians used to be people we could look up to and respect, but we’ve gotten away from that. Every election cycle it gets dirtier, sleazier, and more and more corrupt. And I really don’t want to be associated with it. Today’s politicians are more interested in serving themselves and keeping their power and all the perks that come with office than they are with serving the country and the people.

In a way it is sad. I’m very interested in politics and the well-being of our country, and I’m very concerned about the future of our nation, our society, and our rights. I’ve got a lot of ideas for how we can fix the problems we have, and I write about those or talk about those from time to time in hopes that I can get a dialogue going or get some new thinking out there that may actually help our country. And I’m not afraid to say that I think I’d be a really good Congressman or Senator. I can work with people; I’ve done it all my business life. I like hearing other people’s ideas and coming up with solutions that everyone can support and get behind. It may not always be all of what they wanted but if we can find consensus no one really gets all they want. So, I think I could be really good about bringing people together if they’re willing to compromise. Listen, I don’t care what political party people are from. If there’s a real willingness to solve a problem, people can come together. If people are willing to put country and cause above self-interest and ideology and are willing to make sacrifices, you know make the hard choices, there’s nothing we can’t overcome. But Washington doesn’t really like you if you’re an outsider or if you’re not with one of the two main parties. They’ve got this whole ‘either you’re with us or you’re against us’ attitude and that’s not getting this country anywhere.

So unless things change drastically, don’t plan on seeing my name on the ballot anytime soon. I just couldn’t deal with the egotistical jackasses in Washington.   

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 5

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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What would you say is your interesting writing quirk or quirks?

I pace a lot. I’ll be writing and get to a point that I don’t really know where to go, so I’ll get up and start pacing until I work through the situation. Then, I’ll go back and finish my thoughts. Or sometimes, I’ll be working and I’ll just need a break, and I’ll get up and pace for a while. Sometimes I’ll get my iPod out and listen to some tunes while I’m pacing, or I’ll just look out the windows while I’m pacing and get lost in the scenery. I’ve worn holes in a couple of different rugs from pacing, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. And from time to time I’ll walk on a treadmill to do my thinking; exercise is a good way to clear the mind and work through problems.

And sometimes, I play out the scene that I’m working on in my mind. I’ll have the conversation that’s going on in the story and get some ideas on where to take it or if it sounds right or what needs to change. I want to make it sound natural, so the best way to do that is to read it out loud or actually go through it so you can hear it. Trust me, it sounds a lot different when you hear yourself speaking it than the perception you have of it just being on the paper and reading it. And you guessed it, sometimes I’ll be carrying on the conversation out loud while I’m pacing. My secretary always gives me the strangest look when she comes in and I’m pacing and carrying on a conversation with no one else there.

But ultimately, all of these things help me get the work done, and I guess I’m getting some physical and mental exercise in the process.   

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 4

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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You’ve done so much, what’s left for you to do?

I’ve got a lot left to do. I’m going to continue writing for as long as I can because I truly do enjoy it. I enjoy the storytelling, and for me it’s a challenge to put together a book—the characters, the plot, and all the subtleties that accompany writing a book. I’ve got to finish the Gems & Jewels series, and I certainly want to add more books with Lt. Wickland from The Versailles Conspiracy, Feltus Boone LaMont from Murder at the Ocean Forest, and the Maynwarings. I have a whole list of books that I want to write. If I just wrote books full time, it would take me years to get through the entire list of storylines that I’ve come up with, and it seems like I’m coming up with more and more every month, so that list just keeps getting longer and longer.

I’m the type of person that likes to get projects done. I don’t like having open projects sitting on my desk, so it’s pretty daunting to look at the list of books I want to write and realize that it’s going to take a while to finish this. Needless to say, I’m committed to this for the long haul, so readers can rest assured that I’m going to keep turning out books as fast as I can. I’ll be lucky to get one or two done each year. I don’t want to sacrifice quality for quantity or just to get the books written. I want to maintain my style and work quality.

There’s a whole list of business projects that I’d like to get off the ground, but like a good book, this doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a lot of planning and strategizing involved. Business always keeps me busy. You just never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next. Time is at a premium, so current operations come first and as time and resources permit we can move onto the new projects.

We’re working on setting up my own foundation to raise money for charitable work. I’m a big supporter of no kill animal shelters. If I could accomplish only one thing in the rest of my life I would love to stop the senseless killing of animals simply because they don’t have a forever home and to stop animal cruelty. Each year hundreds of thousands of animals are put down just because they haven’t been adopted. It really breaks my heart. Cats and dogs are such wonderful creatures and great companions. They have so much unconditional love to offer humans that it is a shame that it goes to waste. I understand that it is a matter of economics. Spending money to care for homeless animals isn’t a big priority here in America. I want to build my foundation so that we can provide support and assistance to shelters throughout America to stop the killing of shelter pets. It is a tall task, and I know that. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in educating pet owners about the importance of having pets spayed or neutered to control the pet population. We need programs throughout the country to capture stray pets and spay or neuter them. I’d love it if the foundation could someday develop a network of animal rescue farms where stray and abandoned animals can live until they’re adopted. This is a cause that I’m very passionate about, so you’ll be seeing me continue to work towards this in the future.

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 3

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

It’s all over the place. I try to keep regular office hours, but sometimes I’ll be in the middle of something in the manuscript and I’ll want to keep working. The creative juices may be flowing, so I might be in front of the computer off and on all day working on the book. It really drives my secretary crazy, particularly when we’ve got to rearrange meetings or appointments because I’m working on a book.

By the same token, I might be up all night working if I’m in the mood, which really throws off my business schedule the next day. It’s not uncommon for meetings to get postponed until late afternoon or early evening. I may have to conduct business over dinner. All of that is a rarity as I do try to allot myself time outside the office for writing, and I try to stay in those time frames as much as possible. But when the juices are flowing, you’ve got to go with it while you can. I try to get as much on paper as I can when I’m in the right mental frame of mind for writing. I don’t want to let those thought get away.

I do find that a lot of times I do my best writing late at night before I go to bed. I’m definitely not an early morning writer. In the mornings I’ve got to get up and let my mind get moving and really working full steam before I can sit and write. That may take an hour or two or all day, but usually I’m pretty fired up in the afternoons and evenings.

My mind is pretty much running twenty-four hours a day overtime between business and writing. I guess that’s what keeps me going. The mind never rests.   

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 2

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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Do you have any tips for readers?

When it comes to reading my books, readers need to take their time and really focus on the story. My books are complex. I’m not going to shy away from that. They’re written at a higher level than most other writers. I’ve said it before that they’re very descriptive and detail oriented so you’ve got to pay attention. If you don’t have the time, you may want to wait to read my books when you can dedicate a little time here and there. If you start reading the book then put it down for a week, you’ll probably forget some important things when you start reading it again.

In a larger sense, I would encourage readers to try writers that may not necessarily be in the mainstream. There is a lot of unique talent out there that’s getting published by smaller presses or that is being self-published. It’s not all good, but then again neither is all the stuff that the mainstream writers are putting out. I would encourage readers to expand their horizons when it comes to writers. That really helps out writers who are good but don’t have the name recognition or distribution outlets that come from being published by a major publishing house. I think readers need to approach non-mainstream authors with an open mind. If you look at the work that is in the mainstream, it’s all pretty much the same. It’s really uninspiring in most cases. It’s written at a much lower level to appeal to a wide commercial audience. Writers outside the mainstream aren’t necessarily catering to a wide commercial audience, so you’ll find a much different style in many cases.

 

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 1

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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What country would you live in if not the USA?

Despite all the political and social problems we have here in the United States of America, it’s still the greatest country in the world. We have so much more than any other country that I don’t really know if I could live anywhere else. Everything from television programming to restaurants to entertainment is just better here in America. We have just about every climate that you could possible imagine in the United States, so you can find what suits you. We still have the greatest freedoms known to man, and at night we can go to sleep knowing that we’re safe. We’re not going to wake up in the morning having been invaded by a neighbor or taken over by some other nation.

But if we’re looking at this from a theoretical perspective, I’d have to consider Grand Cayman or Martinique or the British Virgin Islands. The Caribbean is just an amazing part of the world; I love the weather and it’s like being removed from the rest of the world. It’s really a good, stress free lifestyle in the islands. Bermuda is another great place. I guess I’d also consider Switzerland or Great Britain if they weren’t so cold and what I consider miserable weather; I’m just not a fan of the climates there. Switzerland is very modern and sophisticated, and they respect your privacy. I really appreciate that. Australia is a possibility, but it’s just so far away.     

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Miss Matisse Interview- With Published Author Digger Cartwright Question 15

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Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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Miss Matisse: Most people underestimate just how powerful social media marketing can truly be! It’s a great thing when you can market yourself, because you are the only one who really knows your product like the back of your hand, unlike anyone else. What else can we expect to see from Digger Cartwright in the near future besides the Money, Power, Greed, Sex and Revenge of Gems & Jewels?

Digger Cartwright: For the near future, I’ll probably continue with the Gems & Jewels series. That’s been on my mind for a while, and I’d like to finish Books II-V next. I’ll be doing a lot of commentaries for ThinkingOutsideTheBoxe.com, the think tank. I generally participate in their annual symposium in December and some of their quarterly champagne summits. You’ll be hearing my thoughts on politics, the economy, business and society. I’m in the process of developing a series of books that is a bit futuristic looking at what America and the world may look like in thirty years. I’m far from actually starting to write that, but that’s on the drawing board. I have plans for a sequel to The Versailles Conspiracy and The Maynwarings. Of course, time is always at a premium, so I’ll just take these projects one at a time. But I’ll say this, if you’ve liked what I’ve done so far, you’re going to love what I have planned. The best may be yet to come.

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 10

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Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Tuesday, 19 February 2013
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What do you think makes a good story?

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I think the components of a good story are interesting characters and a complex plot. I like the story that keeps me engrossed in what’s going on and that keeps me thinking about the story and the characters. If there are twists and turns, all the better. Lots of details? Great. If there are secrets for the characters, that’s good too; it keeps the mind working trying to figure out what the characters are all about. And I think the good story has a unique storyline as opposed to one that has been used over and over again in other books. It’s ok if it’s a storyline that is not really original but it needs to have a unique spin on it. Let me explain what I mean by that. The classic love triangle has been done so many times that it really takes a special spin to make the story good and unique. Murder mysteries are pretty basic. Someone gets killed. There’s a list of suspects, and one of them did it. How the story presents the characters and events is really what’s important.

Readers will get to see a lot of what I think makes a good story in my own books. They usually have a pretty complicated plot. There’s going to be a lot of twists and turns, and they’ll keep you guessing until the very end. There’s going to be a lot detail. I try to paint the picture of each scene for the readers, and I do that by going into some great detail. There’s going to be a lot of character development. Strong characters with real depth make all the difference; it makes the readers feel like the characters are real people, like they can connect with them on some level. I draw sharp contrasts between my books and my writing style and my storytelling and that of other authors who don’t really go into much detail and who have pretty boring and static characters and who tell very simplistic stories.

My books aren’t for the faint at heart. You’ve got to focus and really pay attention. Some people say my books are hard to read, and I suppose there may be some truth to that when you go from reading books written at a fifth grade reading level to one that is much more advanced or at a college level. It’s not like reading Shakespeare or the classics when you read one of my books, but it is quite different from reading some of the mainstream writers of today.  

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 9

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Saturday, 16 February 2013
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Do you buy a book by the cover?

Absolutely. There’s an old saying about first impressions being the most important. You know, you’ve got to make a good first impression because you don’t get a second chance. That is so very true when it comes to the cover of the book. Humans are very visual beings. Let’s say you’re in the bookstore walking passed shelves full of books. The first thing you see is the cover and the design. You don’t really notice the title or the author’s name first. You see the cover design. I go for the book that I think has a unique cover or the cover really stands out. You could take the same manuscript and put them side-by-side on a shelf but have one cover that is just black and white and the other that has a nice, flashy, eye-catching design and nine out of ten people are immediately going to go to the one with the nicely designed cover.

 

As an author it’s real important to have a well-designed and appealing cover. Not ever cover has to be flashy but it has to be able to grab the readers’ attention. Otherwise, they’re just going to pass right over it in favor of one that catches their eye. As an author, you’ve got one shot to make that first impression. You’ve got to have a really good cover designer, and I do believe that I have one. They’ve got to be able to incorporate some elements of the book and make it visually appealing. For Conversations on the Bench, I originally wanted the cover to just have the black and white picture of a long bench as the focal point. Well, with the test audience, that cover didn’t go over well at all, so I let the graphic designer have carte blanche with it. He came up with the cover that is on the book, and it was much more favorably received by the test audience. So, I learned a very valuable lesson about the importance of the cover design, and my vision isn’t necessarily what connects with the readers.

 

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 8

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Thursday, 14 February 2013
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Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I don’t really have a set time or place when I do my writing, unlike most authors that I know or that I’ve talked to. When I feel in the mood or when I have something on my mind, I’ll write. It could be three in the morning and I’ll wake up and have something in my head that I want to get on paper, so I’ll get up and start writing. I might write for an hour or so then have to step away from it. Of course, I don’t write full time. I have my various business interests that require a good deal of my attention, and time is at a premium, so I’ve got to squeeze in some writing outside of business. I like writing late at night, that way there aren’t many interruptions. During the day, it’s real tough to carve out time from business and then find a place where I can’t be bothered for a time. So, the ‘when’ in the question is anytime of the day or night but I do prefer to write late at night into the early morning hours so there’s not many interruptions.

As for where I prefer to do my writing, I like writing in my office or at my desk or the home office. It’s a bit of a double edged sword. I like writing late at night which generally means I’m at home. Well, home isn’t necessarily the best place for getting work done. You always find something at home to sidetrack you and you’ve got too many comforts there. Sometimes, I’ll actually stay late at the office, and I’ve been known to be found asleep on the sofa in my office or in the lounge when my secretary and folks get to work in the morning. I guess they just carry on all around me, but they understand that I can keep some very strange hours.

I also really like writing while I’m riding in the car. I can’t do it if I’m driving but on longer trips when I have a driver, it gives me a chance to sit back and relax and focus. Oddly enough, Murder at the Ocean Forest was started in the back of a limo on a trip from Miami up to Orlando. I got the outline done then started writing the first chapter.

I’ve also been known to write on the train. It’s nice having your own sleeper car and some privacy so you can organize your thoughts and do a little work uninterrupted. Train travel isn’t really in style anymore, but I thoroughly enjoy it and on long hauls it gives you ample time to get some work done with few interruptions or business getting involved.

And I’ve also been known to take short trips to a bed and breakfast or a hotel to relax and do a little writing. Sometimes a change of environment can really help in the writing department. You never know when or where I’m going to show up or when a particular place where I’ve been working is going to show up in a book.

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 7

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Tuesday, 12 February 2013
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Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

As a matter of fact, I do hear from my readers quite often and on a regular basis. Much of the time, readers will send me messages to tell me how much they liked or disliked the book they just finished. They’ll tell me what they thought was going to happen or what they wanted to happen. I always love the e-mails I get that tell me how I should have written the book or how I should have made one of the characters. It can be very interesting and sometimes very insightful as to where other people thought I was taking the story or what they would like to see happen. It doesn’t change anything with the book, but it’s a good way to measure if I was successful in throwing the reader off or if the red herrings worked in the mystery. And to be fair, nine times out of ten, the readers’s feedback is positive. There’s very little negativity amongst the readers.

In addition to the general comments about the book, I get a lot of questions, much like the one that I’m responding to. I guess there are really three categories that the questions fall into. First, I get the questions about upcoming books or if there’s going to be a sequel or prequel to the last book they read or if I’m working on any series of books. The majority of the questions are about the books or the characters or my writing in general. The second set of questions is usually asking for advice if they want to write a book or what other authors they may like since they’ve read all my books or how they can get their book published or how I did it and things like that. Then the third set of questions are usually a bit more personal. They want to know what I like and dislike or what I watch on TV or what I do in my free time or how they can meet me or do I have a girlfriend. They’ll get pretty personal at times too.

It’s always very flattering that readers actually take time out of their lives to reach out to me with feedback or questions. I really appreciate that. It’s real encouraging that there are people out there who like my work enough to respond and get excited about it. There’s no greater satisfaction for a writer, no greater inspiration as well, than to have a responsive and interactive group of readers, to have your book read by complete strangers and accepted as good and to have these people become fans. To have someone say they enjoy your work is the greatest thing to hear when you’re a writer. It’s so rewarding that words can’t begin to describe it. And despite the fact that I get a lot of mail from the readers, it never gets old. Believe it or not, I do read each and every one that gets sent in. I may not be able to personally respond to the readers, but I do read all the fan mail.    

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Miss Matisse Interview- With Published Author Digger Cartwright Question 14

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Monday, 11 February 2013
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Miss Matisse: I am seriously laughing hysterically right now at your comment about someone worrying about another person living in their parents’ basement. It’s so true! Why care about what others think of you? Live your life! Speaking of yourself…What would you say has been the most successful way for self-promoting of your books?

Digger Cartwright: The world of social media and the internet are great ways to reach millions of readers and engage them. You can interact with people on Facebook and Twitter that are of like interests. You can reach hundreds of readers groups online who love to read indie authors’ work. You’re able to reach people all over the world online and with social media while you get lost in the shuffle on places like Amazon.com.

At the end of the day, there’s no better way to promote your work than word of mouth. You have a friend who reads the book and makes comments on their social media profiles. Their friends see it and they take an interest. They post something and so on and so forth. And of course, it always helps to have fair, impartial, and unbiased reviews by known or reputable reviewers, and there are plenty of them on Amazon and other places. These aren’t paid reviews; these are reviewers who consider various genres and my take an interest in your book to review. It always helps to have people who have bought your book on Amazon leave a comment or review or rating.

There’s really no one way that’s better than all the rest. It’s actually a combination of efforts that help expand the presence of the book and build an interest in it. Self-published authors should use all the tools at their disposal and that are financially available to promote their work. It becomes a lot easier once you gain a following, so make sure you engage with fans and keep producing quality work.

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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013: Question 6

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
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on Saturday, 09 February 2013
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What are your thoughts on book reviews? Are they beneficial to an author or the readers?

I don’t really think there’s much value to having book reviews. There’s an old saying that you can please some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t please all the people all of the time. Just look at any book by any known author on Amazon or wherever and you’ll have hundreds of readers’ rating the book. And those ratings are going to go from one star to five stars. And you’re going to see a wide range of people’s comments on this. However, I don’t know any of these people. They could be anyone. Why should I trust the judgment of someone that is only a screen name online? It’s somewhat absurd. Quite frankly, if you blindly take the advice of some unknown person who has allegedly read a book then rated it, you must not have a brain of your own or be able to formulate an opinion of your own. But I think most people pick up a book and read the synopsis and look at the cover and decide if they want to read it, or at least I hope that’s how people do it.

Then, we have the critics from the newspapers or magazines or whatever. To me the critics are the ones who have never had the guts to write a book of their own and soothe their own feeling of inferiority or their own complexes by tearing down someone else and their work or trying to build them up when the book isn’t good enough to stand on its own merits. To me these so called literary aficionados are nothing. Here again, the average person on the street knows little about these critics. They could have a personal axe to grind with the author or they could be getting paid by the author or the publishing house or PR firm or they may like a certain style as opposed to another and that clouds their judgment in their review. It’s somewhat asinine to even have these and promote book reviews.

I admire anyone who has the will and the heart and the discipline to sit down and write a book and put it out there for all the world to see and take all the talk and heat that comes with being an author. Not everyone that writes a book is going to write a good book. That’s just a fact, but the market of willing individual readers in the world can make the determination of if the book is good or not. Personally, I don’t care what the reviews are for a book. In fact, if some supposed literary critic raves about the book, I’m probably less inclined to read it. I’d probably be more likely to read the book if the supposed critic pans the work. I don’t really have much faith in the critics and the book reviews.

Now having said that, I think that there are some benefits to having an editor review the manuscript. They may have some constructive criticism or catch things the author doesn’t in terms of plot development or character development or flow of the novel. And this type of constructive criticism from an editor is beneficial to an author in that it may give some ideas for improving the work product. This can be good for the author, but I don’t think there’s much benefit to having book reviews. They’re not really worth the paper their printed on or the time it takes to read them. I take them with a grain of salt.

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