To gain a greater appreciation for an author’s life, consider the work that goes into Hammond’s writing.
Before he produced a word of his novel, Hammond spent three years researching. His books feature a number of historical figures such as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Paul Jones, and he wanted to be true to them and to events in America’s early days. “I feel a great deal of responsibility toward history,” Hammond says.
Hammond writes seven days a week, and his mornings begin around 5. To get the blood moving, he unloads the dishwasher, checks his e-mail, and fires up the coffee machine, which conveniently is located near his study off the kitchen. Then he delves into the seafaring world he’s created.
Hammond doesn’t outline his novels. He lets his characters lead him. “The characters come alive to the writer,” he says and puts his relationship to them in business terms. “I have strategic control of what happens [in the novel], but my characters have operational control on a day-to-day basis.” Sometimes, however, the words don’t come easy. On slow days, he may spend the entire morning crafting one or two paragraphs.
Because writing is such an intense process, he usually can’t do it for more than a three-hour stretch, but time can still fly away from him. He has missed morning meetings. “If I have an early meeting, I set an alarm,” he says. “Even then there are no guarantees.” The afterglow of Hammond’s creative morning stays with him, leaving him feeling fulfilled and alive, as he begins his day jobs. Having worked in the publishing industry his entire life, he’s currently a literary agent, as well as a business consultant.
When Hammond sent around his first novel to publishers for their perusal, he made sure to include a detailed marketing plan. Hammond thought the book filled a good niche, for not much had been written about the age of fighting sail from an American perspective, but he knew that publishers might not know how to market nautical fiction.
As for the series’ second book, For Love of Country, its scheduled publication date remains in flux for now, since Hammond’s publisher went bankrupt in November, but the author continues writing the rest of the series. He’s 60 years old and figures he may be in his 70s before the sixth book is written. “Even if none of these were published, I would still write,” he says. “It’s something I have to do.”
PREV | NEXT