Friday, October 25, 2013

Author Interview: Robert Bartram and Giveaway!

Good day, all!

Very recently I read a book called Dance the Moon Down. It's a historical fiction with a touch of romance. Not your kind of book? I didn't think it was mine either. I. Was. Wrong.

The author of Dance the Moon Down is Mr. R.L. Bartram - better known as Robert :) It was awesome getting to know him a little after I read his book, and I want to give you all a chance to get to know him too. I hope you enjoy our time here with Robert!


Amanda: Robert, welcome to i solemnly swear. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Robert: At various times in my life, I have been described by others as, fiercely independent, with a dry sense of humor (that's often remarked on) somewhat solitary, although not reclusive, and a little eccentric. Fair enough! I admit to being a rank individualist who doesn't believe in doing anything by half's, my wit is on the desiccated side and I am happy with my own company, but as for eccentric, well, I consider that to be a pre-requisite for anyone who wants to be a writer.

I was born in Edmonton, a suburb of London, in 1951, spent several years living in Cornwall and now reside permanently in Hertfordshire. I own a comfortable house with a huge garden which I have planted exclusively with trees so that it now looks like a portion of Epping Forest (remember, nothing by half's) which makes it wonderfully secluded. I seldom watch television, I don't (can't) drive and I hate going to the barbers, I cut my own hair. It wasn't until 2011 that I, reluctantly, retired my typewriter and bought a computer; that was quite a learning curve! I am absolutely passionate about my writing, but I never take myself too seriously.

Amanda: Wow, I'm amazed. I can't imagine life without my computer.. or cell phone or iPad, now that you mention it. Well, by calling you eccentric, I think we're giving you a compliment! :)
How long have you been writing?

Robert: I started when I was seventeen. There was a long break of about ten years in the 1980's, so that means I've been writing, on and off, for more than thirty years now.

Amanda: That's wonderful! One day I hope to be able to say the same! I just finished reading your novel, Dance the Moon Down. For my friends who haven't read it yet, can you give me a brief description?

Robert: My novel is a historical drama, although it could just as easily be classified as a romance. It's set against the background of the First World War, but it's not a war story. Essentially Dance The Moon Down is a tale of true love, courage and loyalty against almost overwhelming odds. It's the story of Victoria, of one young woman's struggle to survive when her husband, Gerald, the love of her life, volunteers to fight and then goes missing in France. Her vow to wait for his return and her conviction that he is still alive set her on a precarious journey into a world she is totally unprepared for.
Through her eyes we witness the radical changes taking place in the world and in English society. We experience the isolation, heartbreak and loss of all those women who were left behind to carry on alone. Throughout it all Victoria has her own problems to contend with, whilst the burning question remains, will Gerald come back or not?

Amanda: I, for one, couldn't put the book down until I found out the answer to that question! I was so enchanted by Dance the Moon Down, so can you tell me, where did you come up with the idea for your book?

Robert: I think the first seeds of an idea were sown when I passed by our local war memorial. Most people use it nowadays as a point of reference and to be honest it does have a slightly dehumanized element about it, as do most memorials. Then it occurred to me that the names on that stone had once been real people with real lives. Why not weave a tale around a few of them. I began to research that era and came across the letters and diaries of some women who had lived through those times. I can't describe how poignant their writing was, but that's what clinched it for me. Later on I found an article in "The Nation" a now obsolete periodical, written by John Galsworthy, the author of the Forsyte Saga in July 1914. Basically it was a critique of the younger generation, of whom, he wrote, "had been born to dance the moon down to ragtime". With the benefit of hindsight we know now that they in fact fought the bloodiest conflict of the twentieth century and paid a terrible price. The irony of Galsworthy's statement made such an impression on me that I took it for the title of my book.

Amanda: I loved that you used that phrase as the title for your book! I can't even imagine reading those women's diaries and not being able to write something about it afterward. I'm so impressed by how you turned those diaries, those thoughts, into story, one that left me wanting more. You know I have to ask - are you currently working on something else. If so can you tell me anything about it?

Robert: Yes, I'm currently researching for a novel set against the background of the American Civil War. This one will also have a female central character. As with Dance The Moon Down, I think I've managed to find a new slant on an old theme, but that's really all I can say for now.

Amanda: I really just can't wait! Good luck writing with your writing, and I will patiently await the release of your next novel. But anyway, since you're currently working on something now, tell me something quirky about your writing process (e.g. you only use pen and paper when drafting a story, you like to listen to music while you write, etc.).

Robert: That's spooky. I do write everything in longhand. The fact is, I write almost as fast as I think. If I had to type it out at the same time I'd just get bogged down. Only the final, ultimate, draft is typed. No, no music, I must have absolute silence, at least to begin with, that way I can hear my thoughts. I prefer to write at night, usually from 11 p.m. to about 3 a.m., that guarantees the quiet. I'm fueled exclusively by tea (I'd die without tea) I have a pint mug beside me and I never let it go empty.

Amanda: I'm not a tea drinker myself, but I get the feeling that tea to you is what coffee is to me. Off the topic of reading/writing a little, what is your favorite non-bookish thing to do? Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

Robert: Yes, many. I love to write, but it is essential to keep the mind fresh with other things. I enjoy all the natural sciences, Astronomy, Geology and particularly natural history. I like to take long walks in the countryside whenever the opportunity arises. I love going to the theater, especially the Globe where Shakespeare is performed at it's best. I also like to eat out, Chinese for preference and I'm partial to low budget Gothic horror films. I also enjoy homemade wine. I make a very innocent looking Elderflower which comes out at about 80% proof. Smashing.

Amanda: Haha, I don't think I'll be having a drink with you any time soon then unless I want to be knocked on my... well, anyway - I love that you're so diverse, and love Chinese, as do I! (Also, I'm glad you didn't say long walks on the beach, and said countryside instead, because I don't think I would've been able to hold that one in, haha).

Robert, it has been so great chatting with you and getting some insight into the mind that created Dance the Moon Down. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll come visit and chat often!


Look for my review of Mr. Bartram's Dance the Moon Down this upcoming week, and make sure to show Robert some love and pay him a visit. He's an awesome guy and an even better author!

Aaaannnddd... because you guys are so stinkin awesome, i solemnly swear is having a giveaway! Three lucky winners will win a PDF copy of Robert's book, Dance the Moon Down. This giveaway is international. Make sure you enter below! The giveaway will be open until November 8, 2013, so get a chance while you can!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As an independent author, Robert is currently promoting his debut novel "Dance The Moon Down". He is single and lives and writes in Hertfordshire, England.

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