Will Hutchison is an award-winning author whose new novel is set during the Crimean War. He is a graduate of Syracuse University, with twenty-six years as an officer in the US Army and Marine Corps. He has spent his life in interesting and often dangerous endeavors, from leading Marines in Vietnam, to working as an undercover drug agent in Amsterdam with military CID, to serving as a Federal special agent conducting fraud investigations and counter-terrorism initiatives at nuclear plants. He resides in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he pursues his writing and photography, with occasional law enforcement consulting projects. As an avocation, he has written and lectured on nineteenth century military history internationally for over twenty years.
Tyler: Welcome, Will, I’m glad you could join me today. To start off, I know the Crimean War may not be one really familiar to our readers. Can you give us a little background on why that war was fought?
Will: Actually, people know more about the Crimean War than they at first realize. For instance, Errol Flynn and the Charge of the Light Brigade – Florence Nightingale…the lady with the lamp – The ‘Thin Red Line’…all came out of the Crimean War. It took place six years before the American Civil War, from 1854 through 1856, during the reign of Queen Victoria. It was primarily fought on the Western coast of the Crimean peninsula (present day the Ukraine). This war’s origins were shrouded in political mystery and intrigue, ranging from somewhat bogus religious reasons to the expansionist doctrine of the Russian Czar, Nicholas I, in an effort to gain free access between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Russia invaded the then Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, and it hit the fan…
Britain and France, the most unlikely of bedfellows, came to Turkey’s aid, supported further by Sardinia. Although a Turkish Army basically drove Russia back across her borders, the people and governments of Britain and France felt strongly that Russia needed to be taught a lesson. Thus in September 1854, a combined allied army landed on the Crimean peninsula. Their mission was to capture Sevastopol and sink the Russian Black Sea fleet harbored there.
The Russians sunk a good part of their own fleet to block the harbor to British and French ships, and it took the allied army the next two years to capture Sevastopol.
Tyler: Thank you, Will. That makes the historical background much more clear. So why did you choose the Crimean War over another war?
Will: I’ve always been interested in 19th Century military history, and particularly the Crimean War and American Civil War. I’ve lectured and written frequently on both subjects. My original thought was to write a novel about British observers in the American Civil War on General McClellan’s staff. There were actually about a dozen of them. However, these officers received their combat experience and became the fine officers they were in the Crimea, six years earlier. I decided that the setting for the first novel would be in the Crimea; then I’d bring my characters into the American Civil War in the sequel. russia ukraine news The Crimean War became my passion through about three years of research, before I felt I could put pen to paper.
Tyler: Do you then see this novel as a prequel to your intended Civil War book, which will be the primary work, or do you think they are about equal in importance? Will a reader have to read this book to understand the book you intend to write about the American Civil War?
Will: It is a prequel. The sequel will bring Ian Carlyle and a few other characters into the American Civil War. There will also be at least a third in the Ian Carlyle series. Each book will be of equal importance, and each will stand alone as a story in itself.
Tyler: How do you think the novel would have been different had you chosen a different war or a different era like World War II?
Will: I think a writer must follow his instincts and above all his passion. It is my intention to write a series, not merely one book. The first with my main character, Ian Carlyle, coming of age as a man, then as an officer, in the Crimea…and the second bringing him into our Civil War as a seasoned veteran.