Living in the Past, Looking to the Future:
The Biography of John Hays Hammond, Jr.

As an inventor, Hammond is considered "The Father of Radio Control." He was a protégé of both Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Alva Edison—Hammond visited the West Orange lab and became lifelong friends with his contemporary, the youngest Edison son, Theodore.

Theodore and his wife often visited Hammond's castle home in Massachusetts while driving to their summer house in Maine.

Whereas Edison's "Invention Factory" amassed nearly 1,100 patents, Hammond almost
single-handedly accumulated 800 worldwide patents and his hob-nobbing lifestyle was much more fun.

In the summer of 2008, Hammond Castle finally implemented John's decade-old idea to restore the kitchen of the castle in true vintage style and dedicate it to Hammond's cook, the late Nellie Nally Connors.

Nellie became a dear friend to both John and his wife. Her insights and anecdotes about Hammond greatly aided in the writing his biography. A nod of gratitude was given by making Nellie a pivotal character in John's mystery novels, Dead by All Appearances and Dead in Small Doses, which are set at the castle during World War II. Nellie was aware of that homage at the time of her death and she took great amusement in it.

The museum has also followed John's suggestion to publicly open Hammond's private lower-level dining room which was referred to as The War Room because of its mural depicting Gloucester Harbor under a fictitious air/sea attack and defended by Hammond's inventions.

The sales of John's works have generated more than $50,000 towards the preservation of
Hammond Castle Museum.

John is also the author of the distinctly different Wind series set in his adopted New England.
All four novels use Hammond Castle Museum as a centerpiece.

What all of his works share is a focus on personalizing history in an accurate fashion.

The unique premise of the Wind series:

Kirsten Eriksson possesses The Sight.
Her dreams can relive the past and foresee the future...

"Dandola's storytelling gift...entertains us with quirky, eccentric [characters].…fun, believable people who have personalities that really tick…Dandola has perfected [Kirsten's] dream technique and uses it like a movie camera for the reader…"

The protagonists of these novels are school teachers and their professional experiences are based on actual incidents within the West Orange School System.


Hammond Castle Connection
West Orange Connection

Welcome to the official web site of


who is so closely associated with
West Orange, New Jersey;
John Hays Hammond, Jr.; and Hammond Castle Museum.

He has also written extensively to expose corruption in
municipal and organizational politics.
"It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil." Henry David Thoreau

In an interview by mystery author Julia Buckley,

"John Dandola Chats About the Vikings, Scaramouche, and Beautiful, Beautiful Lindisfarne"

Read it by clicking on the image at the left...

West Orange Histories
West Orange has always been a town unappreciative and insecure about its history and, as a result, compulsively tried to fictionalize it. Finally, there is an author who makes the truth accurate, interesting, and entertaining because he actually knows the subject matter backwards and forwards.

West Orange Mysteries

John's series of mystery novels set in his hometown began with a stand-alone novel centering on M.G.M.'s World Premiere of Spencer Tracy's Edison, the Man held in West Orange during May of 1940. John was not only the first but is still the only person to piece together all the events of that premiere and he combined that with his expertise of how the Hollywood Studio System worked along with his indepth knowledge of local history in order to intertwine a murder mystery against that backdrop. The popularity of the novel and the fact that it has been optioned numerous times for a possible film, led to a follow-up series of mysteries centering on both Hollywood and West Orange set during the 1940's.

Praise for John Dandola's West Orange-based  mystery novels:

"An ironically funny picture of the differences between west coast film executives and [an] east coast residential community...It is these ironic ideas, the reality of the period, and the discrepancies in fact that create humor in the retelling."
—The Essex Journal

"Dandola infuses a sense of humor about movie-making and the glamour and glitz associated with Hollywood."
—The Star-Ledger

"Dandola's affable writing style and his extraordinary grasp of time, place, and subject matter still gives the reader a wonderfully perceptive inside-out view of movie studios and small town politics."
—International Titles

"[With] a great deal of research to ensure historical accuracy...Dandola has certainly carved out a place for himself as a regionalist writer; perhaps [West Orange's] first."
—Suburban Essex Magazine

"History and mystery merge in West Orange and many are the familiar figures in this story set in 1942 about World War II rumors centering on the Edison factory..."
— 'Jersey Ink,' The Star-Ledger

"[Dandola's] roots in the area enable him to fill his mysteries with so much local color and detail that even readers unfamiliar with the town can create vivid pictures of it in their minds....One can almost hear the Irish, English, and Norwegian accents as the characters come to life."
—South Orange Book Review

"A unique blend of history, mystery, and nostalgia with the mood of a 1940's film. Clever casting, sharp period dialogue, and memorable scenic descriptions set a backdrop for an unexpected series of events. Great fun, and blessedly different, this is a book to take into your comfiest chair and enjoy as you would an exciting journey."
—Julia Buckley, author of The Dark Backward and Madeline Mann

"Dandola not only has a knack for relating the practical nuts-and-bolts methods once used in movie-making but he can also create a very real sense and flavor of any locale at any point in time. Add very real characters in plots which could quite possibly happen and it's effortless for readers to be transported."
—International Titles

"Dandola's descriptions are so succinct and evocative that readers can't help but visualize how the town of West Orange once looked. Quite appropriately, it is just like watching an old movie."
—Dr. Herman Estrin, Founder of the New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame

"A mystery reminding me of a 1940's tabloid...I doubt I'll ever see this kind of humility in modern tabloids."
—Kelly B. Sagert, Lansdale Eclectic

"Dandola imbues his Hollywood characters with a humanity that makes them much more real than their glamorized images."
—International Titles

Copyright © 2000–2023 John Dandola, Ltd. All rights reserved.

To Order John's Books Directly from the Publisher
CLICK on the cover
for the Original Press Release

click here for the

Follow-Up Press Release
click here for
"Why West Orange?"
This page is best viewed using Google Chrome
Used by the WOFD to teach department history to new recruits
CLICK on the cover
for the Press Release
CLICK on the cover
for the original
Press Release
CLICK on the cover
for the Press Release

(printing is still pending)
for the follow-up Press Release
for the newest
Press Release
The Play's the Thing...
CLICK HERE  for John's produced stage plays
John's Other Works
John is the editor of this collection of Hammond's short stories
Just like all proper castles, Hammond Castle has it own ghostly occurrences
The second volume
debuted in February 2020
click here
John has recently relocated to Florida
"I had a writing companion, a cat named Angel. She was a stray who adopted us. She used to sit
or sleep on my desk while I worked. If she craved attention, she walked across or plopped herself down on the computer keyboard so that she could be petted. Angel passed away on March 10, 2021. Her loss is profound."

---John Dandola

You can read about what happened to Angel by clicking HERE
CLICK on the cover
for the
Press Release
for why this will be
the last local history book