Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Slings and Arrows of the Past

Tallyho Dear Readers!

Wow. Time has flown. This is my 100th blog post. I'd have hit this number a long time ago had life and fate not intervened. Thankfully, I am finishing my CJ Master's this week and will submit my final paper to be judged by a panel of three and hopefully passed, lest I have to wallow in the mire of graduate education for another semester. I'm pretty sure I'll be okay. In fact, I really should be finishing said paper now but why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? If anything, my BA, MA, and soon to be MS degrees have taught me that procastination is an art, worthy of Picasso or that dude who cut his ear off and mailed it to a prostitute. But I digress.

The subject of today's meager offering is similar to that of my very first post. They are two bookends, if you will, though my blog will, like the show, go on. I am elbow, or perhaps arse, deep in research at the moment concerning the Battle of Britain and the pilots and ground crews who took part. In a way, my whole life has been research about it as my personal World War Two library, while not as expansive as the one pictured above, consists of several hundred volumes of which a large number touch on the air campaigns. Though I did not know it until after we got married, The Redhead's grandfather was waist gunner on the B-17 Luscious Lucy and made the first daylight raid over Berlin with the 100th Bomb Group. (Keep an eye out for the next HBO/Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg production which will involve The Bloody Hundredth!) Since there are so many other wonderful volumes written about the Battle of Britain, I do not see a need to add to them, at least not in the traditional sense. No, Dear Reader, I am involved in research for a novel. 

I am interested in the Irish pilots who left the Republic (though it was still the Free State at the time) to battle the foe in the skies over England. I've seen the number listed as 10 but also as 13. Rather than deal with an actual person, I've decided to add an extra fictitious pilot to that gallant band and his story will be representative of the rest as best I can make it. While I'd love to delve into matters of plot and characterization with you, as this is an open blog page, I feel it best to keep that close to my vest lest someone more talented than I take the idea and run with it. But I assure you that you'll be the first to know when I am ready to discuss it. The targeted completion date is 30 June 2016.

Czech Pilots of 310 Squadron

I have long been interested in the process in which writers research and write their books, but especially how authors of historical fiction engage in that delicate dance between balancing the actual events with the story itself. With my work, I decided to make up a squadron that never existed as that gave me a tad bit more freedom, but I also drew from numerous sources about other squadrons in the area to make them as realistic as I could. What strikes me the most, and always has, about pilots in the Battle of Britain was how young they were. Though the movies often depict them as in their late 20s or 30s, the truth is many of them were teenagers or barely in their 20s. This is something I have to keep in mind as I write. As I was a teenage boy once who got into all sorts of mischief, I can't imagine what I would have done in an airplane! 

I don't go for the bodice ripping sort of historical fiction because, at heart, I'm something of a prude. I was listening to an audiobook in the car one day. I had the windows rolled down and was at a red light. The book was a historical one, and not a romance novel. Then some totally random sex scene took place and there I was, windows down, broadcasting it to various and sundry folks in nearby cars. So there is and will be none of that in my book, sorry to disappoint. I prefer to let the reader use their imagination rather than describe in graphic detail various acts that are probably illegal in ten states and five countries. 

My own schedule involves writing 1500 words a day, though I'll allow myself to do more if I feel like it. Sometimes I get it down in an hour. Other times it takes me 8 hours. I'm easily distracted and given my physical limitations, I have to type standing up because sitting down is too painful. Though I use a computer, I sort of wish I had an old manual typewriter. I think that would be great fun though it would probably drive my cats and The Redhead crazy. And speaking of The Redhead, I let her read each chapter as it is done so that she can point out everything I did wrong in it and make notes for me to correct when the joyous time known as editing begins. I'd rather run backwards, naked through a cornfield than edit, but it must be done. Just not yet.

The Redhead and I.
I "may" have my hand on her posterior in this photo.
How cheeky of me!!!!

So, Dear Reader, if you have any tips or advice on the art of writing historical fiction, I'd be happy to hear it. Furthermore, if there is anything you love or hate in historical fiction, I'd be happy to hear that too. Though writing a book may seem like a solitary task, in fact, it involves many people. Each in their own way. Who knows, one of you may have been my inspiration for an evil villain. I jest.....partially.

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Half A$$ Historian who rather likes his wife's a$$. So until next time, check your six and don't prang your kite or you'll catch a rocket from your supervisor. He can be a right bastard. 


  1. Looking forward to some sleepless nights enjoying this novel!

  2. An even swap for the sleepless nights I've spent writing it!