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Digger Cartwright Interview 2013 Part 2: Question 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 Sunday, 24 February 2013
in Digger Cartwright

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 - Part 5

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 Friday, 05 October 2012
in Writing

I recently interviewed myself.  Here is the fifth question I asked.

5. Are any of your novels going to be a series and are any of your characters going to make

additional appearances?


Well, each book so far has been self-contained. There’s nothing that carries over into future

books. The Versailles Conspiracy does leave the door open to a sequel, and in fact, I have that

on the drawing board. I think it’s still a couple years out based on my current schedule. There’s

something very endearing about Feltus Boone La Mont from Murder at the Ocean Forest. I’d

like to bring him back for additional books, but there’s nothing in the works right now. There’s

no possibility for a sequel to The House of Dark Shadows. There will be additional books in The

Maynwarings series down the road. I really like the characters in that and I think there are a

number of possibilities for additional books. Right now, however, I’m working on a series called

Gems & Jewels. I’ve planned out four or five books in the series. My plan is to work on one of

those each year until they’re done then come back to potential sequels or series of other books.

Look for the first installment of Gems & Jewels sometime in early to mid-2013. Right now, I just

have so many ideas and outlines that I’ll be busy writing for a long time.


You’ll see all of the Maynwarings in future books set in Carson City back in the Old West.

Lieutenant Wickland will definitely be making additional appearances. He’s going to have a new

partner in the future books, so that should make it interesting. I never really planned on doing

anything further with Murder at the Ocean Forest, but everyone really likes Feltus, the house

detective in that one, so I’m pretty inclined to bring him back. I’ve got some ideas for that, but

there’s nothing planned for the immediate or foreseeable future. While I’d like to bring him

back, there are other more worthy projects in the works. Honestly, I suspect it may be three or

four years before I get around to bringing him back in anything.


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Digger Cartwright Interview - Part 4

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 26 September 2012
in Writing

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

4.  Are any of your books based on a real-life experience?


No, none of the storylines are based on any real-life experiences. I get asked that question a lot.

I guess most writers write about something they know or get their plots from real life. I’ve got

a pretty vivid imagination, and I don’t lead a very exciting life, contrary to popular belief. Most

of my experiences are all business related, which don’t necessarily play well into my mystery

novels. I don’t model my characters after anyone. I know a lot of writers do that. I just get

a vision of these people and events in my mind and let it go from there. I mean, I don’t know

anyone that got murdered lately, so it’s sort of tough to write about that from experience.

Contrary to popular belief I wasn’t around back in the 1800s, so I didn’t have any personal

experiences to draw from when I wrote The Maynwarings: A Game of Chance.


Now, I will put references to real places or things in my novels. For example, I think Blenheim

Ginger Ale has shown up a couple of times. It’s my favorite ginger ale, so I try to work it in when

I can. I love giving companies and products I like a plug in my books. The Ocean Forest Hotel

was a real place in Murder at the Ocean Forest; I didn’t have any personal experience to draw on

with that hotel, so I had to rely on research, photographs, interviews with people, etc. The Ritz-

Carlton Atlanta figures into The House of Dark Shadows. I’ve been to that hotel, so I can use my

experience there to describe the place and all that. I’ve been to the Dunes Club in Myrtle Beach,

so I can draw from that experience in The Versailles Conspiracy. But being at these places just

helps to describe them. No real life experience at any of those places was the basis of the plot

or anything like that.


I’ll also put in some quotes that I like that I’ve heard over the years from friends. I think my

favorite is ‘It may not be what you want, but it’s all you’ll ever want.’ And of course, my friend

Sam, to whom The House of Dark Shadows is dedicated, actually coined that term in reference

to a business situation in which I found myself many years ago. So, I do take some things from

real life and insert them into the books from time to time, but plot wise all that comes from my



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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...
User is currently offline
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



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.


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Digger Cartwright Interview - Part 2

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 20 September 2012
in Writing

Question 2

Do you make an outline when you write or just write?


Most of the time I do make some sort of an outline or roadmap or guide. I know that I’ve never

sat down and written a formal outline like they teach you to do in high school and college.

That’s just not for me. Normally, I’ll make a lot of notes when I’m coming up with an idea for

a novel. I’ll make a list of the characters and maybe have some notes about them. Then I try

to organize those ideas into how they flow in the story. Usually, I just make a list of what I see

happening and the order in which it happens. I try to go by that and let the rest just fall into

place. When I’m writing a novel, nothing is really set in stone. I may have a list of things that

are going to happen but as I get into the story I might throw something in that changes that list

or the order or adds or subtracts from it.


The process for me is really very fluid. Things can change. I can come up with another idea or

change some aspect or character for the better or worse as the case may be from time to time.

I may start going in one direction then change course midway through the manuscript. Some

writers are really rigid in their approach to writing. They create the whole outline, chapter by

chapter, and stick with it. Good for them if they can do that. I don’t know what kind of quality

they’re turning out, but whatever works for you.


The Versailles Conspiracy, for example, ended in a completely different manner than I had

originally anticipated. I threw some things into the plot along the way that I hadn’t originally

anticipated, and that made the original ending that I envisioned just a little too theatrical. The

original ending might be good for a movie version of the book, but it just wouldn’t have worked

for the novel. Personally, I think the ending of the book is far better than what I had originally

planned, but when I set out to write that book, I didn’t foresee it taking that direction. It just

sort of took on a life of its own and went in its own direction. The same could be said for The

House of Dark Shadows. It was significantly different in a number of aspects from what I had

originally anticipated and planned for.


I think writers need to keep an open mind and have a sense of flexibility when it comes to the

storyline. I know that both The Versailles Conspiracy and The House of Dark Shadows turned

out better for the flexibility that I had and the changes I made. But here’s what’s important. I

want each one of my novels to be unique. I want each one to have its own special attributes so

that they each take on a life of their own, if you get my drift. A lot of highly successful writers

have a certain format and stick to it like clockwork. Basically, all they’re doing is changing the

location and the character names. It’s sort of like one of my favorite TV shows, Walker, Texas

Ranger with Chuck Norris. Here was a show that only had like half a dozen different story

lines. All they did was change up the guest stars each week, but the stories followed the same

format…someone gets killed and Chuck Norris goes after them and beats the crap out of them,

end of show. If you read some of the top writers over the last twenty years, you’ll find that a lot

of their books follow the same format. I don’t think anyone can say that of any of my books at

this point.


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Digger Cartwright Interview - Part 1

Posted by Digger Cartwright
Digger Cartwright
Robert “Digger” Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Versa...
User is currently offline
on Monday, 17 September 2012
in Writing


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

1. Do you ever get writer’s block and how do you deal with it?




I do get writer’s block from time to time. I’d say that just about every writer battles that condition at some point. You can just be rolling along with a storyline and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Where do I go from here?’ And then there’s nothing more intimidating than sitting there staring at a blank page. To me writer’s block isn’t just not knowing what to say or do with the story, it can also be when you’re dialogue or prose just goes stale for a while. You can be writing your heart out then suddenly realize you’re not going anywhere with what you’re doing. It can be very frustrating, and I’d venture to say it’s the number one reason why people either don’t write or give up on a project.


For me I might have to step away for an hour or so or a day or longer if I’m stuck. I might sit in the hot tub and try to mentally work through the block. A good massage always helps. Maybe working out some frustration or anxiety at the gym. And I pace a lot. You know, the old walk back and forth until you come up with the solution. There’s really no cure for writer’s block.


For me, I have to be in the right frame of mind and the right mood if I’m going to write. If I’m not feeling it, it just isn’t going to work out for me and that’s when I have to battle the creature known as writer’s block. If I’m in the right mood, it just sort of comes naturally. I’ve learned not to try to force it, just let the creative juices flow when they’re ready. If I could sit for eight or ten hours a day and write, I’d be cranking out about eight books a year. It’s just not mentally or physically possible for me to do that. My brain would just overload if I tried to do that, so I wait for the right time and place and sit down and start writing. Let it happen. That’s why you only get one or two books a year from me, if you’re lucky. If I tried to force doing more, I know the quality would suffer, and I’ve always been one to prefer quality over quantity.



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