William Burton McCormick, was born in Maryland, but grew up in Nevada. He has lived in seven countries, including three years in Latvia and Russia, for the purpose of researching and writing, Lenin’s Harem. He graduated from Brown University with degrees in Ancient Studies and Computer Science. William earned his MA in novel writing from the University of Manchester. He has won awards in the production of computer games and educational software. He studied at Lomonosov Moscow State University.
William Burton McCormick was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship for 2013. He and five other published authors spent four weeks in historic Hawthornden Castle outside of Edinburgh working on their next creative projects. The fellowship, open only to published creative writers, is awarded based on writing samples, references, and previous publishing credits. The four weeks room and board are paid by the fellowship. The idea is to provide refuge free from the distractions and duties of daily life where authors can concentrate wholeheartedly on their writing.
Hawthornden Castle stands on a secluded crag overlooking the valley of the river North Esk. The original castle dates from the Middle Ages with additions being made in the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Under the castle and elsewhere nearby are caves that are said to have been dug by the Picts, and later to have hidden William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Bonnie Prince Charlie. Queen Victoria visited both the castle and the caves in 1842. A picture commemorating this event now hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Renowned cavalier poet William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585 to 1649) composed his poetry here and entertained Ben Johnson and other literary figures of the age at the castle. It is in the spirit of Drummond that the administrators of the castle maintain the retreat for writers.
William began his research for his book,Lenin’s Harem, a story of Witkor Rooks, a ruined aristocrat swept up into the chaos of World War I, and who by twist of fate finds himself a member of the elite guard of the Russian Revolution.
His research for this book, a story no other Western Writer had yet touched,had him moving to Latvia. In researching for his novel, McCormick went to the Latvian Institute and bought some books about Latvian history. He was astonished at what he learned. “The Latvians had been key in the formation of the Soviet Union, and their best soldiers, the Latvian Riflemen,
had backed the Bolsheviks in the early days of the Revolution when Lenin and his men had no one else to support them,” he says. “Their loyalty earned them the nickname ‘Lenin’s Harem.’ Without the Riflemen, the Bolsheviks may not have ruled Russia and history would have taken quite a different turn.”
William’s other work includes; Blue Amber,a historical short story; The Antiquary’s Wife, both of which were published in Alfred Hitchcock’s mystery magazine. Blue Amber is available for free at; http://www.knoxrobinsonpublishing.com/product_info.php?cPath=17&products_id=173
The Antiquary’s Wife can be purchased online;
His novelette “Felix’s Rebellion,” is included in the Anthology “Blood Promises and Other Commitments”, and can be purchased online;
Lenin’s Harem” was so successful in recreating this period in Latvian history that he was invited to speak to the Latvian Embassy to the United States in Washington D.C. last January. You can see part of his interview;
Speaking at the Latvian Embassy.