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Digger Cartwright Interview - Part 3

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 Wednesday, 26 September 2012
in Writing

I interviewed myself recently. Here is the third question I asked and the answer I received.

3. When did you decide you wanted to write books and why?

 

I’ve always been an avid reader. I started reading mysteries back when I was in middle school.

I know that one of the first books I read was Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie. I think today

it’s called And Then There Were None. That’s probably still my favorite mystery book of all time.

I read that and then I got hooked on reading mysteries. I read everything from Agatha Christie

to Ngaio Marsh’s Inspector Alleyn series to the Perry Mason books to Sherlock Holmes to Edgar

Allan Poe. I guess I just liked trying to solve the mysteries. I tried reading other stuff over the

years but couldn’t get into the science fiction or the romance or anything like that. Other than

mysteries and literature and some historical books or bios, I just couldn’t get into anything else.

 

What started me into writing was I didn’t like the end of some book or another. I don’t even

recall which one it was at the moment, but I didn’t like the author’s ending. So, I decided that I

would write a different ending to it. And I did. I started off when the next to last chapter ended

and went from there and wrote the ending that I had envisioned. I like to think my ending made

it a little better. It certainly made me happier than what the author had done. And that was

really my first taste of writing. I suppose if we looked back at that effort, it probably wasn’t as

good as I had in my own mind.

 

So after that I thought that I would give my hand a try at writing a short story or two. Well,

my first short story just got a little longer and a little longer. It was a murder mystery, a family

feuding over money, someone got killed and all the characters had dark little secrets. I’ve never

actually gone back and looked at that, but here again I suspect it wasn’t as good as I thought it

was.

 

I spent a lot of time in my youth dabbling in writing—short stories then screenplays. Yeah, I

decided that I wanted there to be more episodes of shows that I liked, everything from the

old TV Batman to Mission: Impossible. So, I came up with some storylines and used those

characters to write screenplays for them. They were pretty basic, and they relied a lot on

dialogue as opposed to prose. I could just say the scene was a bank or a hotel and that was all I

needed to do for the screenplay. I didn’t have to get into the whole describing the setting and

character’s emotions or thoughts or feelings.

 

My first actual effort at writing a novel was during the first Gulf War. I don’t know why that

inspired it, but it did. I got a notebook and started writing it out by hand. We didn’t have

laptops back then, I know that a foreign concept to you. I still had a manual typewriter that I

had to use for typing. So I wrote everything out by hand then changed things up a little and

added to the story and characters and all that when I typed it up. Needless to say this was a

very lengthy process. When I was done, I put it away and didn’t look at it again for years.

 

My first novel that was published, Murder at the Ocean Forest, came about in the summer of

2000. I had been doing some research on old hotels and came across information about the

Ocean Forest Hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The original hotel had been torn down in

the 70s, but I was fascinated by the history of this place, so I started doing some research on

it. Well, there wasn’t much out there on the old place. The internet didn’t have nearly as much

information on it as is available now. But anyway, I was fascinated by this place so I thought

it would be kind of neat to write a book set in the hotel back in its heyday. I actually came up

with the characters and the entire outline while I was riding in the back of a limo from Miami

to Orlando. I started working on the actual novel on my laptop, I had one then, while I was in

Orlando, and I finished the manuscript about eight weeks later. Those were some pretty intense

weeks of writing. It was the only time I actually spent ten or twelve hour days working on a

manuscript. I finished it up and never changed one aspect of the story either, and it’s still I think

my favorite one for a number of reasons.


~Digger

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