Williamson, Chester Carlton 1948–
WILLIAMSON, Chester Carlton 1948– (Chet Williamson)
PERSONAL: Born June 19, 1948, in Lancaster, PA; son of Chester G. (an aircraft sheet metal worker) and Helen (a homemaker; maiden name, Hershey) Williamson; married Laurie McCandless (a teacher), June 6, 1970; children: Colin McCandless. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Indiana University of Pennsylvania, B.S., 1970. Politics: "Left of center." Religion: United Methodist. Hobbies and other interests: Music, reading, volunteer work, computers.
CAREER: Teacher at public schools in Cleveland, OH, 1971–72; professional actor, 1973–77; Armstrong World Industries, Lancaster, PA, writer and producer of business theater pieces, 1977–86; freelance writer, 1986–. Fire in the Glen (Celtic duo), musician. Elizabethtown Public Library, member of board of directors; Manorcare Health Center, volunteer.
MEMBER: Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
HORROR NOVELS; UNDER NAME CHET WILLIAMSON
Soulstorm, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Ash Wednesday, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Lowland Rider, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1988.
Dreamthorp, Avon (New York, NY), 1989.
Reign, Dark Harvest (Arlington Heights, IL), 1990.
Mordenheim, TSR Inc. (Lake Geneva, WI), 1994.
Atmosfear, Prima Publishing (Rocklin, CA), 1995.
Clash by Night, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1998.
OTHER; UNDER NAME CHET WILLIAMSON
McKain's Dilemma (mystery novel), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1988.
The House of Fear: A Study in Comparative Religions (chapbook), Footsteps Press (New York, NY), 1989.
Aliens: Music of the Spears (graphic novel), Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 1994.
Second Chance (novel), CD Publications (Baltimore, MD), 1995.
Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller (science fiction novel), Prima Publishing (Rocklin, CA), 1995.
Cross (graphic novel), Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukie, OR), 1995–96.
Murder in Cormyr (fantasy/mystery novel), TSR Inc. (Lake Geneva, WI), 1996.
The Crow: City of Angels (novelization), Boulevard (New York, NY), 1996.
The Searchers # 1: City of Iron, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
The Searchers # 2: Empire of Dust, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
The Searchers # 3: Siege of Stone, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.
Pennsylvania Dutch Night before Christmas (poetry for children), illustrated by James Rice, Pelican Publishing (Gretna, LA), 2000.
Uniting Work and Spirit: A Centennial History of Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown College Press (Elizabethtown, PA), 2001.
Figures in Rain (short stories), Ash-Tree Press (Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada), 2002.
Author of Forgotten Realms, TSR Inc. (Lake Geneva, WI). Work represented in dozens of anthologies, including Night Visions 7, edited by Stanley Wiater, Dark Harvest, 1989; The King Is Dead, edited by Paul Sammon, Delta, 1994; Peter Straub's Ghosts, edited by Peter Straub, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995; and Diagnosis: Terminal, edited by F. Paul Wilson, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1996. Contributor of about 100 short stories to magazines, including Playboy, New Yorker, Weird Tales, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Twilight Zone.
Williamson's fiction has been published in France, Germany, Russia, Italy, and Japan.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel set in contemporary Japan.
SIDELIGHTS: Chester Carlton Williamson once told CA: "I've toiled in a number of literary fields, but my first inspiration was to become an actor, and it was this desire that led to my writing. Although my major was English, I took every drama course I could and acted in stock companies and industrial shows until the day I began to write parody lyrics for the shows. I advanced from that to writing the entire shows with lyrics and dialogue, and from there it was a small step to writing short stories. I made a heady number of sales in the early eighties.
"My first novel was a classic haunted house story, and I still dabble in horror, though hopefully in a more subtle way. My writing spans horror, science fiction, mystery, and suspense, and if one must label, I'd have to call what I (and the critics) consider my best book, Second Chance, an ecological thriller/romance, with fantasy bookends.
"My early works were motivated primarily by a strong sense of place, with characters and plots developing out of a single locale, such as the small town of Ash Wednesday, the theatrical complex of Reign, or the Chautauqua-like community of Dreamthorp. More recently, I've been motivated by political or social issues, with my villains occasionally becoming my ideological spokesmen, their crimes springing from an extreme magnification of my own sentiments, as with the eco-terrorist of Second Chance.
"Influences include such varied writers as Robert Bloch, for his close attention to the psychological states of his characters, a rarity in genre and popular fiction; P. G. Wodehouse, for a touch of humor that I hope brightens even my darkest work; and Joseph Conrad, for being everything that a writer could ever hope to aspire to become.
"To me, the most important quality in writing is realistic characterization. This comes above all else, and necessitates strong outlining before I begin writing to be sure that the narrative flows naturally from the choices the characters make, rather than forcing the characters to follow the vagaries of a randomly conceived plot. Perhaps having been an actor makes me more sensitive to the authenticity of characters, but if characters are not believable, the piece is a failure, no matter how entertaining and novel it might otherwise be."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March, 1997, review of Murder in Cormyr, p. 36.
Science Fiction Chronicle, July, 1998, review of The Searchers #1: City of Iron, p. 43; December, 1998, review of Clash by Night, p. 49.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1998, review of Clash by Night, p. 374.