I am delighted to introduce to you
R L Bartram
|Authors OnLine Ltd|
Robert ~ Welcome to Jaffareadstoo, and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions
Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for Dance The Moon Down?
I was engaged in research on the period 1900-1920, when I came across the letters and diaries of some women who had lived through the Great War and who had male relatives abroad. The sentiments they expressed where so utterly poignant that they immediately captured my attention. It occurred to me that whilst a vast amount of fiction has been written about WW1 concerning the men and even the animals on the front line, very little, in fact, had been done about the lives of the women who had been left behind. I felt that theirs was a story that demanded to be told. About the same time I read an article in "The Nation" a now obsolete periodical, written by John Galsworthy the author of "The Forsyte Saga", in June 1914. Basically it was a critique of the younger generation in which he remarked that "they had been born to dance the moon down to ragtime". In hindsight the irony of that statement is all too apparent. That's what clinched it for me. This was when the first spark of inspiration was struck, so much so, that I used Galsworthy's comment for the title of my book.
What can you tell us about the story that won't give too much away?
Dance The Moon Down is essentially a rite of passage. It is the story of Victoria, a privileged middle class young woman who is headstrong, highly educated, but completely naive. Her father's decision to enrol her at university sets in motion a chain of events that will utterly change her life. At university she meets and falls madly in love with dashing young poet, Gerald Avery. After a whirlwind romance they marry, against her parents wishes, in January 1914. After a few blissful months together war is declared and Gerald volunteers to fight, but within weeks has gone missing on the Western Front, leaving Victoria to fend for herself in a world she is totally unprepared for.
Convinced that her husband is still alive Victoria resolves to wait for him, but her initial attempts to discover his whereabouts plunge her into a dangerous conflict, with both the police and the military, whilst the advent of the charismatic lieutenant Alan Fairchild only serves to complicate matters.
Eventually, virtually destitute, she is forced to take work on a rundown farm where she discovers an unimagined world of illiteracy and poverty, but also new friends among the working class women. This will be her most testing time, both physically and mentally. All she has to sustain her through these dark days is her conviction that Gerald will one day return. The burning question is, will he come back or not?
When do you find the time to write, and do you have a favourite place to do your writing?
I'm a night owl. I generally write between 11pm and 3am. It's much quieter then and I can hear my thoughts. My favorite spot is in the dining room at the dining table. The windows look out onto my large secluded garden and in the summer with the doors open the night breezes waft in. There's no better place in the house to create a story. It's also conveniently close to the kettle and tea pot.
The book world is very competitive – how do you get your book noticed?
Never a truer word was spoken. Initially I managed to arrange an interview with my local newspaper, plus a couple of other local magazines and a spot on local radio. I did a book signing at Waterstones and have a page on Good reads (come up and see me some time) but the bulk of my publicity has been through review blogs, like this one, where I've met a host of hardworking reviewers who are some of the kindest and most enthusiastic people I've ever come across. So far my novel has been reviewed in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India and the UK, such is the power of the internet. I'm always on the lookout for new ways of promoting my novel. In that sense it's a work in progress.
Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?
Yes, my new novel is in the early planning stages. This one is set against the background of the American Civil War. It will also have a female central character (my favorite). As with Dance The Moon Down, I think I've found a new slant on an old theme, but that's all I'm saying for now.
Born in Edmonton London, in 1951, Robert spent several of his formative years living in Cornwall where he began to develop a life long love of nature and the rural way of life. He began writing in his early teens and much of his short romantic fiction was subsequently published in various national periodicals including "Secrets", Red Letter and "The people's Friend"
Never one to let the necessity of earning a living get in the way of his writing, Robert has continued to write for the best part of his life whilst holding down a succession of jobs which included Health Food Shop Manager, Typewriter Mechanic and Taxidermist - Yes, you read that correctly!!
His passion for the history of the early twentieth century is second only to his love of writing which made Dance The Moon Down a logical choice for his debut novel. Robert is single and lives and writes in Hertfordshire.
Robert is generously offering one signed paperback copy of Dance the Moon Down to one lucky UK winner of
Good Luck Everyone
My thoughts on Dance the Moon Down
This lovely story opens on the cusp of WW1, and although there is a real sense of change within the country, sadly, the expectations of the middle classes seems to be stuck in the Edwardian era. When sixteen year old Victoria tentatively asks her parents if she may continue her formal education at university, it seems likely that her parents, who both believe that a woman’s place is in the home, will refuse. However, against their better judgement Victoria attends Caulfield’s, a residential ladies college in Cambridge, where she meets, fall in love with and quickly marries the dashing poet, Gerald Avery. The momentous events which are gradually unfolding on the European stage will have a profound effect on the lives of both Victoria and Gerald, and also on the wider world around them.
What then follows is a really interesting story about the women who were left behind when the men went off to fight in the war, and of the roles the women played in both keeping morale high and the country’s economy ticking over. The dark days of privation and the knowledge that her husband is caught up in war events make Victoria into a very strong character, and her story resonates with passion and conviction.
Beautifully written and well researched, this book will make you consider all those women who were left behind to fend for themselves, whilst their husbands, sons and fathers were fighting a war, and who became stronger and more independent because of the role they played.
I enjoyed it and look forward to more books from this author.