Monday, September 22, 2014

Robin Hutton, Author

Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse is the complete biography of an ex-race horse turned American hero. Author Robin Hutton writes the captivating tale of Sgt. Reckless – a Mongolian mare whose courage and determination prevailed during perilous times.  

Through stunning historical photographs and interviews with eye witnesses and former Marines, Author Hutton skillfully tells the legend of an American Hero; how Sgt. Reckless was awarded two Purple Hearts for valor, and much more.  Sgt. Reckless was ‘dauntless, fearless, and exemplar of Semper Fi.’  

A great book for every library! Recommended reading for everyone! Author Hutton has just completed the screenplay and I look forward to seeing more of Sgt. Reckless…

 Welcome Author Hutton!

What was your inspiration for writing about Sgt. Reckless?
When I first discovered her story eight years ago I was stunned that I had never heard about her before, because to me, this is the GREATEST horse story that I had ever read. When I googled her name, only four items came up on the internet - FOUR! I discovered she was iconic in the 1950s and 60s, but disappeared from the pages of history. So, I made it my mission to make sure she is never forgotten again -- and, that her story reaches the iconic stature of Secretariat and Seabiscuit with the masses before I’m done!

So many wonderful, heroic Sgt. Reckless anecdotes from the book! Which one is your favorite?
Oh goodness! So many to choose from! It’s hard to choose! But I think it would have to be where she ate the centers of the cherry pies that Manny, the cook, had put out to cool! Just knowing how much she loved her cherry pie put a smile on my face - and I can just imagine the look on Manny’s face when he discovered them!

Of the seventy-five US Marines you interviewed, which interview stands out?
Actually, there would be two. I would have to say Harold Wadley’s interview was by far the most compelling as he saw her in action during her most heroic battle of Outpost Vegas in March 1953. The way he describes seeing this tired struggling horse in the flare light just sent chills up my spine! And that she survived! As he says, “There must have been an angel riding that mare that day.”

The other one was from George Johannes who was also at Outpost Vegas. He didn’t see Reckless during the battle as he got off the hill just before the battle began. However, he described a scene that I will never forget - when he saw four Marines vaporized in front of him when mortar fire hit their bunker. “Red rain” was what he was covered with. Since I wrote that story in my book, I’ve had several Marines tell me, sadly, that they too had witnessed the very same thing.
What Military Decorations were bestowed on Sgt. Reckless?
Her Military Decorations include two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, all of which she wore proudly on her red and gold blanket, along with a French Fourragere that the 5th Marines earned in WW1.
Where are Sgt. Reckless' foals/lineage today?
All three of Reckless’s colts were gelded! So sad! She had Fearless (1957), Dauntless (1959) and Chesty (1964). She also had a little filly in 1967 who died after one month. Fearless and Dauntless are buried on the rodeo grounds at Camp Pendleton. Chesty was sold off base, so no record of his burial.
Will we see Sgt. Reckless in movie theaters soon?
If I have anything to do with it, you certainly will! I have finished my screenplay and will start shopping it now that the book is out! It will make you laugh, it will make you cry - it will make you leave the theater feeling ten feet tall!
What is 'Angels Without Wings, Inc.'?
AWW, Inc is my non-profit that I set up to raise the money for the monuments to Sgt Reckless. We placed the first monument last year at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle (Quantico), VA. We are now raising money for the one at Camp Pendleton, where Reckless lived out her days and is buried, and also, hopefully, one will be placed in South Korea as well.
But actually, AWW, Inc. is much more than that. I set it up to raise money and awareness for those “Angels” who walk among us ... those people who give of themselves selflessly, day in and day out, to help those in need, or an animal in need.
These people show us that it only takes one person to make a difference - just a little bit of one’s time, ingenuity and a little bit of effort can make all the difference in the world to those less fortunate. These people show us that ...We all can be Angels - if we try. And every day I try to “Be the change you want to see in the world.” That’s what Angels Without Wings is all about!
Where do you like to write?
I can write anywhere - and it all depends on what I am writing, and the time of year that I’m writing. When I’m at home and the weather is nice, I love to write on my front or back porch, sitting there with my dogs around me, surrounded by my rose garden and watching the hummingbirds. Or in the fall and winter, I really love to put on my sweats and my favorite oversized sweater and sit in front of my fireplace, curled up on my couch, soft music playing - again dogs all around me. They are such a wonderful comfort -- and they inspire me!
How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
I write a lot of ... wait, what was the question? :)
Hahaha! Okay, I couldn’t pass that one up! I take a lot of notes in spiral notebooks. When I start a project, I get a clean spiral notebook and keep all of my notes and thoughts and ideas and contacts in there. For Reckless I have 3 large notebooks, and now have a fourth one for the marketing of the book. I try and keep as much information in there as I can. Also “To-Do” lists. Sometimes it takes a lot of flipping back and fourth - but I know I can find stuff in there eventually!
When I’m in the car and can’t write, I have a little tape recorder that I will turn on and record things on there, and then type them up so I have them handy.
What are you currently writing?
Having just finished Sgt Reckless, I’m now working on the marketing and promotion of the book, so I’ve not started writing anything new yet. Besides, I’m trying to enjoy having just given birth! hahaha! There is talk of doing a children’s book which I’m very excited about and look forward to diving into! And also, I have to get the monument for Reckless completed first before I start writing on any new project because, as your readers who have done any kind of fundraising know, that is an all-consuming job in itself! And there’s a lot of writing involved in promotional materials, speeches, etc. So that’s really keeping me busy!
What are you currently reading?
I hate to say it, but I haven’t had a chance to read anything lately! It’s been crazy! I really look forward to the day when I can crawl up with a good book and get lost in it! Any recommendations? (BTW, even though I’ve written a novel, I prefer non-fiction books. I figure if I can find any time to read, I want to LEARN something!)
Do you have advice for novice writers?
For starters, write what you are passionate about! That will keep you going when the thoughts dry up - and we all have those days! If you find a topic that stirs your emotions and your passion - run with it!

Secondly, research your topic thoroughly - whether writing a novel or a non-fiction book. You MUST get the research right, because if you don’t, that will cause people not to trust you - and you need their trust so they will go on the journey with you, plus have them want to read other things that you write.

Mark Twain once said, “Write what you know.” I don’t really agree with that. At least for me, I find that if I write what I DON’T know, that’s amazing - because then I, too, LEARN something when I research my topic! And it’s in the learning and growing that keeps me going. It’s exciting! BUT, there’s a catch in that because you have to make sure that you do write what you’ve LEARNED - and you must have the facts right!

For my novel, it’s a ghost story that takes place during the Civil War, the Kennedy assassination, and present day. Man, I got every Civil War book I could get my hands on, and it opened up a whole passion for the Civil War that I never had before. For my book on Reckless, that happened with the Korean War, and connecting with all of the amazing Marines and other people that came in touch with Reckless. I also had to make sure I had all of the horse references correct.

For instance (and please forgive me for being so simplistic here but I’m trying to make a point), there’s no easier way to lose my horse audience than to say something silly like, “Reckless was half stallion.” Well, duh! Horse people would know I didn’t know what I was talking about if I got that simple fact wrong, and so they would dismiss the rest of my research because they couldn’t trust that I had the facts correct on everything else.

Getting the research right is critical. It takes work - that’s the hard work - but it will pay off immensely when the book is out!
What's the secret to writing a great book?
Everything I said above! Plus having a GREAT subject to write about!

Connect with Robin…
Sgt. Reckless website:
Facebook page:
Fan club:
Publisher page:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Being in the UK, my knowledge of the Korean War is very limited - and coloured by MASH. However, this has to be a must-read book. Fascinating interview. All the best Robin.