Alumni Novelists Employ Writing and Business Skills

By John Crawford 

Bill Hammond, MBA ’85, grew up near the ocean. As a teenager in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., he learned to sail on a 9-foot plywood sailboat, and he worked 24 wooden lobster traps nearly every day from May to October.

Lobstering wasn’t easy work, and Hammond came to understand the water, to appreciate its beauty and its power. “You learn the ways of the sea doing that, and you learn to respect those ways,” he says. “You understand how fierce the sea can be, how fierce the weather can be.”

He now lives in Minneapolis, and he still goes out to the water whenever he can, sailing on Lake Superior, so vast that it seems like the ocean. “I have been on the water all my life,” Hammond says.

This history with the sea informs his writing. Hammond is the author of A Matter of Honor, a maritime novel set during the American Revolution. It’s the first of six planned books looking at the age of fighting sail, when wooden ships rode the wind and fought on the high seas.

Hammond is one of several Babson alumni who are novelists. David Jones ’61 is the author of Two Brothers: One North, One South, a historical work set during the Civil War, and Jane Cleland, MBA’78, is the creator of the Josie Prescott mysteries, which feature an antiques-appraiser sleuth.

These three writers know the hard work involved in publishing a novel, for not only have they spent hours upon hours researching and fine-tuning their manuscripts, they also have struggled with finding publishers and readers. Unfortunately for authors, writing is only half the battle. Once the novel is finished, they must hustle to have it see the light of day, or else it will just sit forgotten in a drawer.

That’s when the skills learned at Babson become important. A business degree may not necessarily make you a better fiction writer, but it will help you market your work and build an audience. “There is a real business to all this,” Hammond says.