Miss Matisse: I totally agree with you! A writer does have to be in a certain mindset in order to produce their best work. Otherwise it can throw the whole story off! So…sticking with the same subject, have you ever made any mistakes in your field that you would like to advise others against?
Digger Cartwright: Stay productive. Keep writing. Don’t take too much time off between books. If you do, you’re likely going to become complacent and take your time before starting the next book. As soon as your current manuscript is with the editor, get to work on the next one. If you’re serious about writing, keep producing as much as you can without sacrificing quality while you can when you can. The day may come when you don’t have the time or the creative juices dry up. I find that if I take too much time off between books that it becomes more and more difficult to start the next one.
Miss Matisse: I happen to absolutely love that you keep your fans in mind while writing too! Your new series sounds like it’s going to be a big hit! When it comes to writing, have you ever had to overcome writers block? If so, how were you able to work around it?
Digger Cartwright: I will occasionally encounter writer’s block. For me, I have to be in the right frame of mind to sit down and write. I really have to be in the mood. When I’m in the zone, so to speak, I can just sit and crank it out. If I’m not in the zone, it’s tough; it’s very laborious under those circumstances. Where I often encounter writer’s block is that I create a situation while I’m working that impacts the direction I was taking. I have to work through the change and the implications for the storyline. I like to say I’ve worked myself into a corner and have to figure a way out. Usually it’s just a matter of stepping away for a while and letting it all work through my mind. Sometimes I’ll need to take a break, have something to eat, get some fresh air, go walk around, or even listen to some music. Really it’s just a matter of stepping away and clearing my mind. Once the answer comes to me, I’ll get focused and get back to work.
Ultimately, I think any writer really has to be in the right frame of mind to do their best work. I’ve read a lot of books in the recent past that seemed to indicate the author was trying to force the words onto paper and it came across as being of a lesser quality than their normal prose.
Miss Matisse: You’re currently writing a piece about Money, Power, Greed, Sex and Revenge…high society has a new first family…in which, the character Jarrod Van Kliem returns from exile in London to reclaim control of the family business that was grabbed from him years ago, and he’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants—even if it means destroying his own family in the process! This I find fascinating! Where did this idea stem from?
Digger Cartwright: I was always a fan of Falcon Crest, Dallas and Dynasty, the prime time soap operas back in the 1980s. I wanted to create a modern-day drama with everything that made those shows so great—money, high society, power, backstabbing, wheeling and dealing, revenge, sex. Gems & Jewels is a modern-day take on that with a family that is involved in the mining and jewelry industry. I actually started out with this as a teleplay years ago in hopes of making it a mini-series that led to an actual weekly series. That never worked out, so last year I decided to make this a series of books, starting with Gems & Jewels Book II: The Restoration. When I wrote the teleplay, I actually had planned out about five seasons of the show, so all the plots for Books II through V are already laid out for me. Now, it’s just a matter of putting them all in prose as opposed to script format. Of course, a lot has changed since I originally wrote these, so I’m having to make some significant changes to the plots and characters. In the end, I think this will turn out to be a very exciting series. I think the successful return of Dallas a year or so ago bodes well for Gems & Jewels. I think the fans are going to love this and really get into it.
Miss Matisse: You have thirteen years under your belt already! That’s pretty cool if I do say so myself, because that’s more than most authors can say that they have! What should readers expect to find when they pick up a Digger Cartwright book?
Digger Cartwright: Murder, mystery, intrigue, an engaging story with twists and turns when it comes to most of my books. Conversations on the Bench is the lone example at this point, since it’s motivational and was inspired by actual events. Regardless of what book you read, it’s going to be an interesting and unique storyline. There are going to be a lot of memorable characters. There are going to be a lot of descriptions of the people and the settings. I try to paint a picture so that you as a reader feel like you’re in the story. I want you to be able to see the people and places in your heads. Some of the books you won’t be able to put down. You’re going to want to keep reading to find out what happens. Others, you’re going to want to step back and think about it for a while. In any case, you’re going to get an engaging story and a quality piece of work. None of my books are going to be like the run-of-the-mill books being put out by mainstream authors today.
Miss Matisse: Yes, I love the worldwide web for the simple fact that now it’s not only Americans who can reap benefits, EVERYONE in the world now can! The “Indie” route whether writing, being a shop owner, music etc. I would say is definitely the way to go nowadays! What genres of stories have you written about?
Digger Cartwright: The Maynwarings: A Game of Chance is a western set in Carson City, Nevada after the Civil War. The House of Dark Shadows is a psychological thriller that is very character driven with what I like to think of as an Alfred Hitchcock-like twist at the end. The Versailles Conspiracy is a modern day political thriller with international intrigue, murders, conspiracies, and a lot of twists and turns that stretch from high society country clubs to strip clubs to political organizations throughout the world. Murder at the Ocean Forest is a period piece set in the 1940s at the famed Ocean Forest hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s a traditional mystery along the lines of an Agatha Christie book where the “locked door” mystery keeps readers trying to solve the puzzle. But there’s also an international intrigue aspect to this once since it’s during World War II. Conversations on the Bench is an inspirational or motivational story that’s based on actual events. It’s a collection of life lessons shared between two friends, and as I’ve said time and time again there is something in that book for everyone who reads it.
Miss Matisse: I’ve realized in the years I’ve done online sales, and writing myself that a degree isn’t always required, and a handful of the authors that actually don’t have degrees are the BEST ones out here! I commend you for pursuing your passion, and those classes that you took have paid off! What would you say is your process when it comes to writing? i.e. How do you normally begin?
Digger Cartwright: It normally starts with an idea. I’ll jot down some notes on paper. Yes, I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to that. I like to write ideas down on a legal pad or notepad. Sometimes the story comes into focus first and sometimes the characters come into focus for me before I have the entire story in my mind. Sometimes this happens almost overnight and sometimes it takes days, weeks or months. I’ll make a list of the characters and a little description of them including things like how they look, dress, act, and so on. I’ll make an outline of the plot and work out the sequence of events so I have something to follow when I sit down to actually write the manuscript.
I have to make a decision as to what style and tone I want the book to have. Is it going to be fast paced or slow moving and methodical? Is it going to be character driven or story driven? Is it going to be dark? What’s the best style for the genre that it’s in? I have to make all these decisions, then it’s really just a matter of doing the work and putting the words on paper. Sometimes I’ll skip around once I have the outline. I have been known to write the ending first once or twice, and sometimes I’ll just work chronologically from the first event all the way through to the end.
Miss Matisse: That is so interesting! I like the fact that you’ve read stories and have thought about how you could make them better, plus the fact that you really delve deep and get creative which I highly respect! Creativity is something that comes naturally to certain people and this is what leads me to my next question… What would you say has inspired/motivated you to do what you do in everyday life both personally and professionally?
Digger Cartwright: I want to do the best job I can at whatever I do. I really enjoy what I do in terms of business and writing, so perhaps it’s self gratification that motivates me along with a desire to give back to worthwhile causes and bring some entertainment to others’ lives. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of a job well done. I work hard to make each book I write something interesting and unique that the readers can enjoy.
Of course, some people like some of my books better than others. A lot of readers really dislike Murder at the Ocean Forest; they find it long and drawn out and difficult to read. It was done that way deliberately. Some readers like the fast pace of The Versailles Conspiracy. A lot of people don’t like the ending of The House of Dark Shadows. Surprisingly, most people like The Maywarings: A Game of Chance, in part I think because there aren’t many westerns anymore.
Overwhelmingly, Conversations on the Bench has been most readers’ favorite. There’s something in that book that everyone can relate to.
At the end of the day, whether they love a particular book or hate it, they agree that it’s well written and reflective of my desire to produce quality books. I could turn out ten books a year that are all crap or marginal or I can produce one or two per year that are outstanding. To me quality is more important than quantity. It’s really satisfying that readers appreciate the hard work that goes into each of my books to paint a picture for the reader of the setting and the people. If I can bring a smile to someone’s face or help them escape from the reality of everyday life for a little while by getting lost in one of my books, I think I’ve done something special for them.
Perhaps more important than this is the ability to give back and help causes that are near and dear to my heart. When you’ve been fortunate in life to enjoy a degree of success, it’s always good to give back. I’m always trying to find ways to help charities and promote their work. If my business and writing enable me to make a contribution to a local no-kill shelter that saves a homeless animal and feeds it and cares for it until it finds a forever home, I’ve made a difference.
Miss Matisse: Hello Digger, so…first things first, what an awesome name you have! Would you mind telling our readers a little about yourself and how you became a writer?
Digger Cartwright: I’m a businessman and entrepreneur first, and in the process of starting and running businesses I’ve had to do a great deal of writing over the years. Predominantly, it’s been in the form of business plans or research reports or articles for trade publications. Over the years I also did a lot of letter writing to politicians to give my commentaries on issues effecting America, business or the economy. I’ve done a lot of writing of commentaries for think tanks, like ThinkingOutsideTheBoxe.com, but it’s more along the lines of presenting a case and offering interpretations and solutions.
I think what really got me started writing was that I didn’t like the ending of a particular book so I set about to write the ending that I liked. There were some short stories along the way and teleplays before I decided to make the plunge into my first novel. I actually wrote The Versailles Conspiracy first as a quasi screenplay/novel. After that I didn’t do much for a couple of years until I got the idea for Murder at the Ocean Forest, which became the first novel I actually published.
I’ve always been very creative, ever since I was a child, and I’ve liked to be the storyteller at times, so perhaps there’s always been the writer in me. I’ve always been an avid reader, so there has always been part of me that said I can do that or I can write a better story than that. Some say I have a flair for dramatics. So overall, writing is a good fit for me. I’ll let the readers be the judge of that.