William C. Knott

William Cecil Knott was born on August 7, 1927, in Boston, MA. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1946 to 1947. He began to write in earnest upon being discharged, but for the next 15 years, he only sold one short story. (He had talent as an artist and tried his hand at painting and drawing, but gave it up for writing, as art supplies were too expensive.) During this time, he studied at Boston University, graduating with a B.S. in 1951, and subsequently a M.S. in 1966 from State University of New York (Oswego).

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He taught English to junior high students in schools in Connecticut, West Virginia, New Jersey and New York from 1951 to 1967. From 1967-1982 he made his living as an English professor at the State University of New York (Potsdam). He was a popular teacher and entertaining lecturer, doing anything to keep his students’ attention—despite being strict and demanding. He was effective—at least one of his creative writing students sold her first book almost immediately. He served as president of the Western Writers of America in 1981-82.

He was a great fan of sports, particularly baseball. Appropriately, Knott’s first published work in 1963, Junk Pitcher, was about a ball player striving to make it back to the major leagues after he lost his fast ball. Knott went on to write more than a dozen books with sports as the background before turning to the writing of science fiction, westerns, historical novels dealing with the West, contemporary fiction, and mysteries.

He was best known as a Western writer and contributed to three long-running series–Longarm, the Trailsman, and Slocum–as well as working on other series and writing stand-alone traditional Western novels under his own name. He felt that the western genre was a more modern version of Greek tragedy—and that was how wrote his westerns.

He also wrote several mystery novels, some house-name men’s adventure yarns, and a number of mystery, science fiction, and sports books for the young adult market.

His books were under his own name and those of Bill Knott, Bill J. Carol, Tabor Evans and Bryan Swift. Examples of his more than 200 novels include: Backboard Scrambler, Circus Catch, Scatback, Danger at Half Moon Lake, Journey Across the Third Planet, Vengeance Seeker (volumes 1-4), Caulder’s Badge, Kiowa Blood, Stampede, The Golden Mountain, Red Skies Over Wyoming, Killer’s Canyon, The Return of Zach Stuart, Lyncher’s Moon, Longarm and the Avenging Angels, Longarm and the Loggers, Longarm and the Hatchet Men, Longarm in Lincoln County, Mission Code: King’s Pawn, Mission Code: Minotaur, Mission Code: Springboard, and Golden Hawk.

His nonfiction books include The Craft of Fiction (also published as How to Write and Publish Your Novel) and The Craft of Non-Fiction.

A workaholic, he listened to classical music turned up loud as he wrote during the day, and on headphones at night when his children were sleeping. (His most significant hobby was hi-fi equipment, some of which he built himself). He often said he had no idea what people did with their time if they didn’t write.

He is survived by his first wife, Elizabeth Ann with whom he had three children: Carolyn, William Cecil III, and Judith during their 15 years of marriage. He subsequently married Constance with whom he had a daughter, Frances. His wife at the time of his death on October 24, 2008 was Amada (Ada) C. Knott.

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