Born into a military family, R.M. Cartmel was educated at Sherborne School in the South West of England and at Oxford. Cartmel served as a practicing doctor for over three and a half decades. As a novelist Cartmel combines two of his lifelong loves—writing and traveling throughout France’s exquisite Burgundy region.
Connect with the author on the web:
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Charlemagne Connection What was your inspiration for it?
A: It is the second book in a series of books set in the famous wine making part of France called Burgundy. Originally when I retired I was looking for a novel set there, and when I couldn’t find one I decided to write one. That was The Richebourg Affair, which was set in the spring in Burgundy. The second book, The Charlemagne Connection is set in high summer of the same year, and the third of the trilogy, which I am writing at the moment, is set during the vintage.
Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.
A: He is a small middle-aged rather tatty policeman, who is obviously very capable at his job, as he has reached the rank of Commandant [translated as Commander] in the French National Police. He has been married but it never worked out.
Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?
A: Having finished Richebourg, it was just the right time to go to Nuits Saint Georges to experience the flowering of the vines, so I set off to do the first piece of research, in France. I also needed to discuss the legal issues in the book, and the forensics. It took round 6 months to create the first draft, including finding out that some of the forensic detail I had got wrong, and that needed a rewrite. But as I had not actually finished the first draft when I hit that glitch, it wasn’t enormously difficult to write round it.
Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?
A: I have no idea, it happens. Charlemagne pretty much wrote itself, so the plot I found exciting as I went along.
Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?
A: No. None of the process causes anxiety. I may not always be able to produce text that I like, but it is not a cause for anxiety. That of course may happen when I start to get behind a deadline, which is a place, so far I have never been.
A: There is no other work outside writing. My son lives in my house but he too has a job so we meet when we meet.
Q: How do you define success?
A: Someone I know from the past telling me that they loved my book and when’s the next one out?
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?
A: If you want to write, and your consort doesn’t want you to write, then you either have to not write or change your consort. I can’t help thinking that if the conflict is irreconcilable, then don’t try. What a horrible place for someone to be. Is that idea copyright, there may be a novel there?
Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?
A: Obviously not! If I did I wouldn’t be a writer.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
A: Never ever think you can do it all alone. Write the first draft of book, and then be prepared to let it fly. Send it to an editor to polish it.