Chet Williamson (born 19 June 1948) is the author of nearly 20 books and over 100 short stories published in Esquire, The New Yorker, Playboy, and many other magazines and anthologies.
Chet Williamson was born and raised in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. His father worked at Olmstead Air Force Base and New Cumberland Army Depot, and his mother, whose lineage is Pennsylvania Dutch, was a homemaker. Williamson attended Elizabethtown Area High School, and graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He earned a B.S. at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1970 and went on to be a teacher at public schools in Cleveland, Ohio. He later became a professional actor before becoming a freelance writer in 1986, when his first novel, Soulstorm, was published. His ghost story/psychological thriller, "Revenant", was produced at Theater of the Seventh Sister in Lancaster, PA, in 2007.
His earlier novels include Second Chance, an ecological thriller/romance, Ash Wednesday, Reign, and Dreamthorp, which was set in a fictional version of the Chautauqua community of Mount Gretna. His story, "Gandhi at the Bat", was made into a short film by Stephanie Argy and Alec Boehm. Elizabethtown College enlisted Williamson to write the 350- page "Uniting Work and Spirit: A Centennial History of Elizabethtown College," which covers the 100 years of the town's history and took him two years to write; Williamson explained, "The college wanted somebody with no preconceived ideas about the institution to write this history, but they needed someone familiar with the area." In 2003, Williamson received the International Horror Guild Award for an Outstanding Collection Published in 2002 for his book, "Figures in Rain," a collection of 27 of Williamson's short stories and novelettes, published between 1981 and 2002, with two new stories written especially for the collection. He has been shortlisted twice for the World Fantasy Award, six times for the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker Award, and once for the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award. Williamson has also published a children's picture book, "Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas." His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and magazines such as The New Yorker, Esquire and Playboy. His books have been translated and published in many languages and countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Japam, and Russia. Crossroad Press has reprinted many of his out of print books.
Williamson also authored one of the horror and fantasy field's true rarities, Kaikon, a chapbook published by Phantasmagoria Publications of Toronto. The chapbook, consisting of one previously published story, "The Pebbles of Sai-No-Kawara", and one new story, "Blanket Man", was printed in 2006, but the publisher did not release the book because of production difficulties with the accompanying wooden and resin box. Of the edition of 200 copies, the publisher sent a number of copies to the author. There are no plans to further distribute the book.
A lifelong member of the Actors' Equity Association, Williamson eventually resumed his acting career, and has performed in plays and musicals at Lancaster's Fulton Opera House and Theater of the Seventh Sister. Williamson portrayed college professor Frederick Miller in the 2006 Fulton Opera House staged reading of "Any Day Now" by David Rush, and Jane Holahan of the Lancaster New Era commented: "These actors were terrific. Williamson, whom I'd only known as an author, was a revelation, infusing Miller with intelligence and great humor." Williamson played a Baltimore Herald reporter as part of the Theater of the Seventh Sister in its 2007 production of "Inherit the Wind," at Millersville University's Rafters Theatre. Laura Knowles of the Lancaster New Era called Williamson one of "quite a few standouts in the stellar cast […] as the Baltimore newsman E.K. Hornbeck, who serves as our cynical conscience, warning us to not accept everything we have been taught and to challenge ourselves to think." Williamson also voices audio books. Susan E. Lindt of the Intelligencer Journal Lancaster also praised his performance: "The biggest standout is Elizabethtown actor Chet Williamson as acidic critic E.K. Hornbeck, the play's version of real-life Baltimore Sun political commentator H.L. Mencken." Lindt added that "Hornbeck makes no bones about being a bottom-feeder, and Williamson is pricelessly snide and smug when he oozes Hornbeck lines". Williamson also appeared with the Theater of the Seventh Sister for their Christmas show in 2007, portraying the narrator in "The Long Christmas Dinner".
In 2010, he began recording performances of Andrew Vachss's short stories, as well as some of his own, for the MPformance.com website (www.MPformance.com). He has also recorded unabridged audiobooks of several of his novels, as well as works by Michael Moorcock, Tom Piccirilli, and Zoe Winters for Crossroad Press/Springbook Audio.
Williamson's 1987 horror novel, "Ash Wednesday," was released by Crossroad Press in 2011 as an e-book; an online promotion for the e-book, in which the title was the day's sponsor of the website Kindle Nation, took the book's Kindle ranking in horror from around No. 90,000 to No. 23. The book earned a place in "Supernatural Literature of the World: An Encyclopedia," and Williamson noted: "this edition also contains the final chapter that was edited out of the first edition, so is complete for the first time. The town in 'Ash Wednesday,' Merridale, Pa., is based on Elizabethtown".
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- Soulstorm (1986)
- Ash Wednesday (1987)
- McKain's Dilemma (1988)
- Lowland Rider (1988)
- Dreamthorp (1989)
- Reign (1990)
- Mordenheim (1994)
- Second Chance (1994)
- Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller (1995)
- The Crow: City of Angels (1996)
- Murder in Cormyr (1996)
- The Crow: Clash By Night (1998)
- Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas (2000)
- Uniting Work and Spirit: A Centennial History of Elizabethtown College (2001)
- The Story of Noichi the Blind (2007)
- Pennsylvania Dutch Alphabet (2007)
- Defenders of the Faith (2011)
- Robert Bloch's Psycho: Sanitarium (2016)
- Figures in Rain: Weird And Ghostly Tales (2002)
- The House of Fear: A Study in Comparative Religions (1989)
- Kaikon (Remorse) (unreleased; planned for 2006)
- 1. City of Iron (1998)
- 2. Empire of Dust (1998)
- 3. Siege of Stone (1999)
- Stauffer, Cindy (January 22, 2011). "My Weekendculture, A Little Cheese". LNP. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
- Jurgelski, Susan. "Elizabethtown writer offers Pennsylvania Dutch version of famous children's story Vas Night Before Christmas", Lancaster New Era December 12, 2000: p. B1.
- “Novel Approach to E-Town College History.” LNP, February 3, 2002. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-9124800.html.
- "Gretna to host visiting writers", The Daily News [Lebanon, Pa] July 10, 2011.
- Lindt, Susan E. “Psychological Spookiness.” Intelligencer Journal Lancaster, PA, October 26, 2007. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-9663446.html.
- Holahan, Jane. “Fulton Dramatists Take Stage next Week.” Lancaster New Era (Lancaster, PA), March 17, 2007. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-9310920.html.
- “Bookendshorror Writer At Mount Gretna ; Spiritual, Religious Guides Oxford Church History Under Way Ephrata Book Buddies, Jr. Friends.” LNP, August 14, 2011. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-29391989.html.
- “BOOKENDS.” LNP, June 8, 2003. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-9181033.html.
- Holahan, Jane. “FYI Fulton: Don’t Ignore the Magic beyond Center Stage.” Lancaster New Era (Lancaster, PA), May 24, 2006. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-9288857.html.
- Watson, Kelly L. “DANGER Polarized Beliefs.” LNP, May 6, 2007. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-9317768.html.
- Knowles, Laura. “Inherit the Wind’ Has Never Lost Its Relevance.” Lancaster New Era (Lancaster, PA), May 12, 2007. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-9318103.html.
- Lindt, Susan E. “The Stage Is the Star in Inherit the Wind’.” Intelligencer Journal Lancaster, PA, May 15, 2007. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-9318246.html.
- Buescher, James. “TSS Stages Christmas Times Two.” LNP, December 9, 2007. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-11414505.html.
- “Wwii Novel Is The One Book ; Local Authors’ Works Now In E-Book Format First Friday Book Sale Benefits Cancer Cure Manheim Township Library Closed For Move Grant Funds Video Book Review Contest.” LNP, August 29, 2010. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-25579558.html.
- Official website
- Chet Williamson's bibliography
- Chet Williamson at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Interview with Chet Williamson on (re)Search my Trash