I love my job. Even on the worst day when I can't seem to put together a coherent sentence, I am grateful for having been given this magnificent opportunity to participate in the literary exchange of ideas. My mother says I was telling people I wanted to be a writer when I was seven. I know that seems incredible, but she's my mom, so we have to believe her. I never missed an opportunity to visit the library, which was blissfully near my home, and the librarians there took a great interest in this nerdy, shy, bespectacled kid who kept reappearing almost every day. They encouraged me to read widely and to read the best of everything, and that is exactly what I did and have continued to do all my life.
I sent off my first submission when I was eleven, to Highlights Magazine. This was a poem of which I was particularly proud concerning the Oklahoma Land Run. They turned me down. Yes, that was my first rejection letter. Over the next twenty years, I collected over 400 more of them. No, I'm not exaggerating. I still have them. Every last one. There was a reason, I realize now, why all those compositions were being rejected. They weren't very good. But they improved over time. I didn't know it, but during the entire torturous process of submission and rejection, I was learning how to write.
My first novel was published when I was thirty-one. To some, this may seem an early age to publish, but if you clock it from my first rejection, it took twenty years. That was a great year--my first son, Harry, was born in August, and my first book, Primary Justice, was born in December. The book surprised everyone and the follow-up did even better and before I even realized it I had accomplished my goal--I was a real honest-to-gosh writer. I've been writing ever since. I've written more than twenty novels, edited two anthologies, done two books for children, and published numerous stories, essays, puzzles, and poems. I have three children now, and this job allows me to be present when they come home from school and available when they need me during the day, which is a blessing I could not have anticipated back when I was a seven-year old gazing dreamily at author photos on dust jackets, wishing I could see myself there.
My goals for the future are to continue to learn, to grow, to find new ways of doing my work and doing it better. I've learned that I enjoy teaching, which led to the The Fundamentals of Fiction DVDs, the Red Sneaker Writers book series, and many speaking and teaching engagements throughout the year. My interest in mentoring aspiring writers led me to start the small-group seminars, which allow me to teach my favorite subject all across the nation. I'm very excited about the future--my personal life with my extraordinary family, and my professional life, creating new stories for you wonderful people who still understand the importance of storytelling and the written word.
William Bernhardt is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including The Game Master, Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness (currently being adapted for an NBC miniseries), and the blockbuster Ben Kincaid series of legal thrillers. In addition, Bernhardt founded the Red Sneaker Writing Center in 2005, hosting writing workshops and small-group seminars and becoming one of the most in-demand writing instructors in the nation. His programs have educated many authors now published at major New York houses. He holds a Masters Degree in English Literature and is the only writer to have received both the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award (University of Pennsylvania) and the H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award (Oklahoma State), which is given "in recognition of an outstanding body of work that has profoundly influenced the way in which we understand ourselves and American society at large." In addition to the novels, he has written plays, including a musical (book and music), humor, nonfiction books, children books, and crossword puzzles. He also has published many poems and is a member of the American Academy of Poets.