1 June 2011

Well you know me - anything about the ships or the sea.... so...

... I am delighted to welcome my guest - William C. Hammond, an American novelist of  nautical historical fiction best known for his Cutler Family Chronicles series. (H.H. which I am reading and loving!)

All seven projected novels in the series present the American perspective in the Age of Fighting Sail, and all seven have as a backdrop the creation of the U.S. Navy and the emergence of the United States on the world stage as a commercial power.
The novels feature the Cutler family of Hingham, Massachusetts and Fareham, England as well as a supporting and ever expanding cast of characters.
The combined family owns a sugar cane plantation on the island of Barbados and ships barrels of sugar, molasses and rum to Europe and the Far East.

 Two novels in the series have been published.  A Matter of Honor is set during the Revolutionary War, although the action in the novel takes place mainly on the high seas, England, France and the West Indies

For Love of Country, published in October of 2010 by the Naval Institute Press, is set during the 1780’s, a time when the infant republic has no viable government or a navy to protect its vast merchant fleets from piracy throughout the world, especially off the Barbary Coast of North Africa. 

The Power and the Glory, to be published by the Naval Institute Press in October of 2011, has as its backdrop the Quasi-War against France in the West Indies

Other books in the series will feature the war against Tripoli, the events leading up to the War of 1812, the war itself, and the war against Algiers in 1815. Every novel has been / will be vetted by qualified historians for accuracy. 

While these novels feature plenty of swashbuckling sea action, they also reveal close interpersonal relationships among family members and friends in both England and New England, as well as in Barbados.  At their core they chronicle a life-long love story between Richard Cutler, the main protagonist, and his English-born wife, Katherine. 

Together, Richard and Katherine  interact with other men of honor and women of passion, some fictional, many of them real historical characters such as John Paul Jones, Thomas Jefferson, Horatio Nelson, Dey Mohammed bin Osman of Algiers, and the Marquis de Lafayette – each of whom has been meticulously researched. 

An interview with Bill Hammond

Hello Bill, welcome to my guest page

Thank you, Helen.  It’s an honour to be here.

HH - My own friends and readers know I adore any novel about the sea and tall ships – so you know you are on to a winner straight off with me! What inspired you to write the series?
WCH – I’ve always had a fascination with the sea, having grown up on the shores of Cape Ann in Massachusetts.  As a young man I wanted nothing more than to attend the Naval Academy, but a serious football injury got in the way of that.  I have always loved to read and write, and I have always enjoyed studying history.  When I came of age, so to speak, writing a nautical / historical series seemed the perfect outlet to combine my life’s interests - especially because so few writers have presented the American perspective in the Age of Fighting Sail.

HH – You have a wonderful cast of characters in your books (I have read For Love Of Country – loved it!) Who, out of all your characters, is your especial favourite?
WCH – I would have to say Richard Cutler, the main protagonist.  He combines those traits I most admire in a man: a sense of honour and duty, yes, but also a realistic sense of self, a sense of humility, a passion for his wife and a love of family, and above all, a sense of humour.

HH - There were many scenes that left me enthralled – and so believing I really was at sea – are you a sailor?
WCH Indeed I am.  My father used to jest that I could tie a bowline before I could tie my shoes.  I love to sail, and do so whenever I can.  There is something magical and extraordinarily remedial about casting off the lines and concentrating only on wind, boat and sea.

HH -  What is your own favourite scene?
WCH  That’s a tough question, because my favourite scene (and my favourite novel in the series) is the one I happen to be working on.  But if you tie me up and threaten me with the lash, I would have to say that my favourite scene in For Love of Country is the sea battle in the Mediterranean between Falcon, Richard Cutler’s armed merchant schooner, and two heavily armed Arab xebecs.

HH – I have a favourite vessel – the replica the Rose, now known as Surprise. I have used her as a “model” for my own hero’s ship, Sea Witch. Have you a favourite from the past – or a present vessel perhaps?
WCH Yes.  USS Constitution. She does not play a role in this novel (in For Love of Country the United States has no navy), but she plays a central role in all subsequent novels in the series.  I have been aboard her perhaps twenty times in Boston.  She is an absolutely gorgeous ship.

HH – If I had a time machine I would want to travel back to 1066 and try to alter the outcome of the Battle of Hastings. What historical event would you change?
WCH I would change the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.  I would have the newly installed radar do what it was built to do and have the U.S. Navy on alert and fully prepared to repel the enemy assault. 
It is traditional for my guests to invite 10 dinner guests to an imaginary dinner.
They can be alive, dead or fictitious. 
Who would you choose and why?

Winston Churchill – My all-time favourite historical figure
John Paul Jones – the father of the U.S. Navy
Elizabeth I – a queen of honour, duty and extraordinary courage
Horatio Nelson – the greatest naval commander ever to have lived
Jack Aubrey – a post captain of note, and the main character of so many excellent novels
C.S. Forester – One of the oldest and still one of the best writers of nautical fiction
Marcus Aurelius – a Roman emperor of bravery, wisdom and wit
Cleopatra – An Egyptian pharaoh of bravery, wisdom and wit
George Washington – A man who made the impossible become a reality
Ferdinand Magellan – A sailor for the ages

Originally from Boston, William now lives with his three sons in MinneapolisMinnesota. Bill recently lost his dear wife, Victoria, but he is determined to continue his series of novels in her memory. He sails whenever possible on Lake Superior and off the coast of Maine.

H.H. Thank you Bill –  my condolences for your recent loss. It’s been a great pleasure to have you as my guest, I wish you a fair wind and a calm sea for the future!

Bill Hammond Website

Next Time - Gadsby not Gatsby, author June Gadsby talks of her life living in France

I have spaces for more guests: contact Helen

1 comment:

  1. I have just read this interview to my husband who not only is a Naval Architect, but an avid reader of Patrick O'Brian, C S Forester. He has now added William to his list of reads. Thank you for introducing us to this very interesting author.


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