I was introduced to Robert P. French after reading the first book of his Cal Rogan Mystery Series, Junkie. It was such an engaging story that I went on to read the three other books he had published in the series without skipping a beat. At that point, he was working on a book but had planned to move onto a different type of series which was not in one of my preferred genres.
It was at that time when life took a turn for me and I didn't have as much time to read. I also injured myself while at work which dragged me away from all things familiar. Lo, and behold, during the year and a half I have been learning to swim in new waters, Robert was busy writing other titles about Cal Rogan - which I recently discovered. Oh, how delightful to have these additional books to read featuring one of my all-time favourite characters.
I wanted to interview Robert P. French but wasn't sure he would be able to carve time from his schedule. Of course, the only way I would know for certain was to ask - and he was happy to oblige. Read below to learn what Robert shared with me about his writing passion.
Norma: What does being an author mean to you?
Robert: To a large extent, it adds meaning to my life. I would like to think that my books both entertain readers and get them to think about issues like drug addiction, morality and compassion. Very often, being an author means frustration at the difficulties of getting the right words on the page but this is balanced by the feedback I get from readers when the book is published.
Norma: When did you first realize that you wanted to write and publish a book? How old/young were you at the time?
Robert: When I was in my early twenties, I wrote a book of horror stories on an old Underwood typewriter. At the time, I was making great strides in my career and did not have the time to pursue it nor did I have a clue as to how to get them published. I still have the manuscript. I was 58 when I started writing seriously.
Norma: From its inception, how long did it take you to write and publish your first book? Was the experience mostly rewarding or filled with varying levels of frustration?
Robert: It took me eight years of trial and error to get my first book published. The first five or so years were my ‘apprenticeship.’ I attempted three novels, all of which ran out of steam but were never completed. Then I completed a novel but it just was not good enough. Luckily, I had a mentor for my next attempt which became the first Cal Rogan book, Junkie; it was published in 2011 and there have been six more books in the series.
Norma: Are you currently writing another book which you hope to publish at some point? If so, we'd love to hear more about it.
Robert: My eighth book has been hard. I started with a concept for a book which gave me a lot of difficulty, so I put that book aside and am writing a different book about a conspiracy.
Norma: You've published multiple titles. Which book is your favourite and why? If you can't decide on one favourite, that's OK; break the rules and give us two or three.
Robert: It is hard to choose. I have a soft spot for Junkie because it was my first but I think my favourite is Captive. It is partly set in Hong Kong and I enjoyed researching that great city. I was happy to see Hong Kong before the repressive reforms were put into place. In addition, Captive does not have a happy ending which, as a reader, I really like.
Norma: Robert, I must admit to being curious about your source of inspiration: who has been a major source of inspiration for you as a writer/author?
Robert: Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben and Lee Child have helped me understand the elements of the genre. John Steinbeck—my favourite author of all time—and William Shakespeare have inspired my love of language.
Norma: What is your ultimate dream, in terms of being a writer/author?
Robert: To continue writing until I can no longer draw breath. On a more mundane level, I would love to see my books turned into film.
Norma (smiles): You're not the only one. Keep those dreams alive; they just might happen some day. While we're on the subject of dreaming big, quotes often inspire people, in one way or another. What is one of your favourite quotes?
Robert: "Tension on every page." – Don Maass. Don is a literary agent and author. His books on the craft of writing emphasize the concept of having tension on every page of your books and I live my writing life by that maxim. A second quote that I have lived my life by is from Harry Day, a World War II Group Captain in the Royal Air Force: "Rules are made for the obedience of fools and the guidance of the wise."
Norma: You are definitely a busy man with no two days usually being the same but, when you need a break from it all, what do you do to relax? Name three of your favourite hobbies.
Robert: I only make time for one hobby – bridge, the most wonderful card game ever invented.
Norma's closing thoughts:
It has been a pleasure to catch up with Robert, to learn a little more about the man behind the books I have enjoyed reading so much. I have downloaded the remaining available books of the Cal Rogan Mystery Series (which I missed) and will soon add my thoughts about those books to those I've already reviewed right here.
Published: February 24, 2023