William Bernhardt is the author or editor of twenty books with more than ten million copies in print worldwide, including his internationally bestselling series of courtroom novels featuring attorney Ben Kincaid which inspired Library Journal to name Bernhardt the "master of the courtroom drama." His most recent novel is Dark Eye, a psychological thriller "that will chill you while its two unique and endearing protagonists steal your heart." On the publication of his New York Times bestselling novel, Murder One, The Vancouver Sun dubbed him "the American equivalent of P.G. Wodehouse and John Mortimer." Bernhardt's novels are renowned for their unexpected twists, legal realism, breathless pace, and for examining trends and issues in American society that later come to national prominence. In addition to his novels exploring the American legal system, he is also the author of The Code of Buddyhood, a literary coming-of-age novel described by The West Coast Review of Books as "a powerful and sophisticated novel about the nature of friendship." Bernhardt has also written a holiday novel, The Midnight Before Christmas, and has edited an anthology of original short stories and a multi-author fundraising novel for The Nature Conservancy (Natural Suspect). Bernhardt's books have been translated and published in more than two dozen countries. He has twice won the Oklahoma Book Award for Best Fiction, in 1995 and 1999, and in 1998 he received the Southern Writers Guild's Gold Medal Award. In 2000, he was honored with OSU's H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award, 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." That same year, he was presented with a Career Achievement Award at the 2000 Booklovers Convention in Houston. He has also been inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame, the youngest author ever so honored. In addition to his work as a writer, Bernhardt is also the founder and owner of HAWK Publishing Group, an independent publishing house headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although HAWK focuses on discovering new writers, particularly those in the Southwest, it has also published books by acclaimed authors including Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Janis Ian, PBS newsman Jim Lehrer, comic Barry Friedman, suspense author Jodie Larsen, and many others. Mr. Bernhardt obtained his law degree at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, where he was a member of the 1985 National Championship Moot Court team and was personally named Best Speaker at the national finals in New York. He worked as a trial lawyer at a large law firm for nine years and was repeatedly recognized for his pro bono work for the underprivileged and for his work with teenagers interested in law. The Oklahoma Bar Association presented him with a special award for Outstanding Service to the Public, and in 1994 he was named one of the top twenty young lawyers in the nation by the American Bar Association's Barrister magazine. In 1995, Bernhardt served as President of Novelists Inc., a national coalition of professional writers, and later was the Chairman of the Selection Committee for the Peggy V. Helmerich Literary Prize. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Gilcrease Museum, the Board of Directors of the Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council, the Advisory Panel for the Oklahoma Arts Institute, and the Advisory Council for "Nimrod: The International Journal of Poetry and Prose." Bernhardt's many activities within and beyond the world of literature led OSU to dub him "Oklahoma's Renaissance Man." Other recent Bernhardt projects have include writing a musical (he wrote the music, lyrics, and the script), creating a board game, producing two music CDs, skydiving, and constructing crossword puzzles for The New York Times.
Oklahoma Book Award, Fiction, 1995 and 1999 http://www.odl.state.ok.us/ocb/obaward.htm; H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award, 2000; Southern Writers Guild Gold Medal Award, 1998; Booklovers Association Career Achievement Award, 2000.
Born and lived in Oklahoma his entire life.
Blind Justice. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.
The Code of Buddyhood. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.
Primary Justice. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.
Deadly Justice. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993.
Perfect Justice. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994.
Double Jeopardy. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.
Cruel Justice. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.
Naked Justice. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997.
Extreme Justice. New York: Ballantine Books, 1998.
ed. Legal Briefs: Stories by Today's Best Thriller Writers. New York: Doubleday, 1998.
The Midnight before Christmas. New York: Ballantine Books, 1998.
Dark Justice. New York: Ballantine Books, 1999.
Silent Justice. New York: Ballantine Books, 2000.
Murder One. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001.
ed. Natural Suspect. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001.
Criminal Intent. New York: Ballantine Books, 2002.
Final Round. New York: Ballantine Books, 2002.
Death Row. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003.
Dark Eye. New York: Ballantine Books, 2004.
Hate Crime. New York: Ballantine Books, 2004. Capitol Murder. New York: Ballantine Books, 2006.
Princess Alice and the Dreadful Dragon. Tulsa, OK: Hawk Pub. Group, 2007.
Strip Search : a novel. New York: Ballantine Books, 2007.
Capitol Conspiracy : a novel. New York: Ballantine Books, 2008.
In an interview with Amazon.com, Bill Bernhardt gives insight to his life and works.
Amazon.com: How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
W.B.: I've wanted to be a writer as far back as I can remember. Even as a grade-school geek hiking every day to the Midwest City Municipal Library (not exactly a huge outfit) I always thought that being a writer would be the coolest thing imaginable. I got my first rejection letter when I was eleven. I was devastated--but I got over it. And got a lot more rejection letters after that one--until I finally sold my first novel in 1990 (Primary Justice).
Amazon.com: What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
W.B.: My favorite contemporary author is Anne Tyler. Other favorites are Peter Lefcourt, Carrie Pellatier, Louise Erdrich, John Mortimer, and Peter Ackroyd. Books that had a strong influence on me? To Kill a Mockingbird. The Diary of Anne Frank. The Martian Chronicles. One Hundred Years of Solitude. The Alice books.
Amazon.com: Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)? Do you have a favorite location or time of day (or night) for writing? What do you do to avoid--or seek!--distractions?
W.B.: This really is mundane--but hey, you asked for it. I write every day, five hours a day (sometimes less on Sundays). I work on a computer. I currently have a super-cool Gateway Destination system with a 31-inch monitor and wireless keyboard, so I can lean back in a recliner on the opposite side of the room from the monitor, type on the keyboard in my lap, and still see my work. No back problems or carpal tunnel syndrome for me! My writing looks a lot better than it really is blown up on a 31-inch screen. I'm using Word Perfect for Windows 7. Since I stopped practicing law (except for pro bono work), I've been able to write in the mornings, first thing after I pack the kids off to school. It has been a real treat being able to write while my brain is fresh, rather than plugging away at it in the dead of night. And that leaves the rest of the day for other projects, reading, my family. And working the New York Times crossword, of course.
Amazon.com: Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions, or similar events? Do you interact with your readers electronically through e-mail or other online forums?
W.B.: I tour quite a bit, particularly when a new book has been released. I love meeting my readers, and would encourage anyone out there to come say "hi" if I'm in the neighborhood. Or drop me an e-mail message: email@example.com
Amazon.com: When and how did you get started on the Net? Do you read any newsgroups such as rec.arts.books and rec.arts.sf.written, mailing lists, or other on-line forums? Do you use the Net for research--or is it just another time sink? Are you able to communicate with other writers or people you work with over the Net?
W.B.: I've been playing with computers and modems since the days of Apple IIc's and 300-baud modems. Boy, has the world changed. The Net is the greatest communication system ever devised by humans, and it's still in its infancy. The ease and efficacy of spreading the word on any subject is astounding. I think it will prove particularly useful for niche groups and artists, those who aren't currently in the mainstream.
Copyright of this digital resource, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, 2005. These images and texts are made available for non-profit, educational, scholarly purposes, such as research, teaching and private study.