Friday, April 17, 2009

Author Interview: RLB Hartmann, author of I wrote with Cullen Baker

RLB Hartmann sent me a pdf of his book I wrote With Cullen Baker and agreed for an author Interview. Do check on his website and his book by clicking on his name the book title.

Product Description of I Rode With Cullen Baker from Amazon:

During the War Between the States, a young Southern girl becomes romantically entangled with a notorious outlaw hiding out in the Sulphur River Country of East Texas. When 16-year-old Jessica loses her home and family, she's vulnerable to the charms of the reckless young man who rescues her. Believing that he will settle down after the war, Jess plans their future together. Cully's secret destroys those dreams, so she journeys to San Francisco to accept an inheritance arranged by her father. Here, Ed offers respectability through marriage, but an unexpected letter rekindles Jess's hope that she and Cully will share a life as thrilling as those days spent in outwitting their enemies.

Here goes the interview:

1) When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing when I was in grade school because my neighbor, who was 2 years ahead of me, showed me a story she had written. I wanted to do that.

2) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered myself a writer long before I actually was one. It took me awhile to realize that writing doesn’t necessarily make one a writer. The turning point for me was when I wrote a scene that made me cry (one that was supposed to!).

3) What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book (s) were inspired by reading girls’ mysteries and teen romances, and later by Daphne du Maurier’s "three novels of Cornwall" that came in a one-volume book club edition. None of those efforts of mine deserve to see the light of day.

4) What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part of writing my first REAL book was learning how to handle point of view. And letting go of the first version of the first page.

5) What do you see as the influences on your writing?

Aside from my early reading choices, I think that my writing has been influenced greatly by the discovery of source materials.

For my historical novel, I Rode with Cullen Baker (available at, finding a book by Ed Bartholomew gave me not only the name of my previously unnamed character, it unlocked a story that had been stalled for years.

For the Mexican historical saga Tierra del Oro , it was marrying a bookseller whose occupation opened the world of out-of-print books, postcards, ephemera, and other booksellers’ stock that guided my research.

6) Who is your favorite author and what is it that strikes you about their work?

I don’t have one favorite, but the key ones are/were: Margaret Mitchell, Daphne du Maurier, Elswyth Thane (second wife of Dr. William Beebe, naturalist and inventor of the Bathysphere), Elizabeth Borton de Treviño, Louis L’Amour, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

What these writers have in common, beyond a passion for their characters and a sure hand with details, is that all of them wrote intricate stories set in the past. Believable and engaging characters, a completely developed other world, and entertwined plot threads give writers like them an authenticity while making their work accessible to readers like me.

7) Can you share a little of your current work and how you envision it in the future?

My current work is Tierra del Oro, which is the historical saga featured on my website at

The entire story is now finished, and I’m seeking an agent whose expertise can see this project into print. I am very much aware of the time and commitment needed to publish these books, and I’m more than willing to let the first volume speak for itself and begin building a readership.

I ‘ve also written these stories as feature film scripts, but have started reworking the scripts into episodic tv format. The first 14 are available for consideration by any interested producer who has funding.

8) What book (s) are you reading now?

A book I finished recently is The Shadow of the Wind (in translation) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Having read Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, I’m now reading Epitaph for a Desert Anarchist by James Bishop, Jr. I’m about to leap into Assault and Pepper by Tamar Myers, whose series books are always a delight.

9) Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

If you mean hot off the shelf, I’m afraid I can’t think of any. I’m working on 20 boxes of "things to read soon" that have been piling up for the last few years.

10) Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you enjoy Jessica’s story of falling in love with a dashing outlaw. Cullen Baker was a real person whose notorious escapades at the close of the War Between the States (Southern term for Civil War) are documented in a few elusive sources. There is a Cullen Baker Festival each Fall in the county where he lived and was murdered. Maybe this year I’ll have a chance to attend.


Thanks RLB, for answering my interview question. I look forward to read the pdf of your book and also to your guest post.