William Bernhardt is the bestselling author of more than forty books, including the blockbuster Ben Kincaid series, the historical novel Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness, currently being adapted into a miniseries, two books of poetry (The White Bird, The Ocean’s Edge), and a series of books on fiction writing. 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 monthly Red Sneaker Writers Newsletter reaches over twenty thousand people, and the Red Sneakers phone app reaches many more. He is the only writer to have received the Southern Writers Guild’s Gold Medal Award, 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 his novels, he has written plays, a musical (book and music), humor, nonfiction, children books, biography, poetry, and puzzles. OSU named him “Oklahoma’s Renaissance Man,” noting that in addition to writing novels, he can “write a sonnet, play a sonata, plant a garden, try a lawsuit, teach a class, cook a gourmet meal, prepare homemade ice cream, beat you at Scrabble, and work the New York Times crossword in under five minutes.”
He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Education and Certifications
2006 Master of Arts, English Department,University of Tulsa
GPA 4.0/4.0. Master’s Paper: “Alice’s Analysis: The Evolution of Wonderland in Film and Critical Thinking.”
1986 Juris Doctorate, University of Oklahoma
Order of the Coif (top 5%), Law Review, National Moot Court Team (National Championship winner 1985, Best Speaker Award), C. L. Love Legal Writing Scholarship.
1982 Bachelor of Arts, English Department, University of Oklahoma
Graduated with Highest Honors (3.75/4.0 or higher).
National Council of Teachers of English
The Author’s Guild
Sigma Tau Delta (International English Honor Society)
Academy of American Poets
Poetry Society of Oklahoma
Oklahoma Bar Association
Phi Beta Kappa Society
Honors and Awards
2018 18th nomination for Oklahoma Book Awards (Fiction)
2015 Two Pushcart Prize nominations for Poetry
2014 Rose State College Certificate of Appreciation, presented by President Webb (March 12)
2014 Southern Literary Review’s “November Read of the Month” (The White Bird)
2014 Oklahoma Book Award nomination in Poetry for The White Bird
2013 Excellence in Teaching Award, Rose State College
2013 Jeopardy! Champion
2011 Certificate of Recognition, Academy of American Poets
2009 Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award-Univ. of Scranton
2007 Sigma Tau Delta Honorary Membership
2005 Outstanding Author Award-Univ. of Oklahoma
2001 H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award-Oklahoma State Univ.
2000 Booklovers Association Career Achievement Award
1999 Oklahoma Book Award-Best Fiction-Dark Justice
1998 Southern Writers Guild Gold Medal Award-Extreme Justice
1997 Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame
1995 Oklahoma Book Award-Best Fiction-Perfect Justice
1994 Top Twenty Young Lawyers in America-Barristers Magazine
1991 Outstanding Service to the Public-Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma
1982 Phi Beta Kappa
1978 President’s Leadership Class Scholarship
1978 National Merit Scholarship
Professional and Community Involvement
2015—Present, Board of Directors, Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow
2009—2011 Board of Directors, V-P Publications, International Thriller Writers
2005—2008 Publications Committee, Oklahoma Historical Society
2004–-2007 Centennial Books Committee-Oklahoma Arts Institute
2004—2008 Board of Directors, Gilcrease Museum
1998—2010 McFarlin Library Fellow, Univ. of Tulsa
1998—2000 Oklahoma Literary Landmarks Committee
1995 President, Novelists, Inc.
1994—2006 Advisory Council, Nimrod: The International Journal of Poetry and Prose
1993—2007 Selection Committee, Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award (Chair 2000-2002)
1993—1999 Board of Directors-Tulsa Arts and Humanities Council
Research, Published Work, and Scholarly Activities
Justice Returns— (Kindle Press—November 2017)
Challengers of the Dust— (This Land Press—September 2016)
Shine— (Babylon Books—May 2015)
The Game Master— (Kindle Press—March 2015)
The Black Sentry – (Babylon Books – September 2014)
Capitol Betrayal - (Ballantine/Random House – March 2011)
Capitol Offense - (Ballantine/Random House – September 2009)
Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness – (Ballantine/Random House - January 2009)
Miniseries based on this book is in production at Sony
Capitol Conspiracy- (Ballantine/Random House – January 2008)
New York Times Bestseller list
Strip Search– (Ballantine/Random House – August 2007)
Capitol Threat— (Ballantine/Random House – February 2007)
Capitol Murder– (Ballantine/Random House – February 2006)
New York Times Bestseller List
Dark Eye– (Ballantine/Random House – August 2004)
Hate Crime – (Ballantine/Random House – February 2004)
Death Row– (Ballantine/Random House – July 2003)
New York Times Bestseller list
Criminal Intent– (Ballantine/Random House – September 2002)
New York Times Bestseller list
Final Round– (Ballantine/Random House – March 2002)
Murder One- (Ballantine/Random House - April 2001)
New York Times Bestseller list
Silent Justice- (Ballantine/Random House - February 2000)
Dark Justice- (Ballantine/Random House - January 1999)
Winner of Oklahoma Book Award 2000
The Midnight Before Christmas- (Ballantine/Random House – October 1998)
Extreme Justice- (Ballantine/Random House - February 1998)
Southern Writers Guild Gold Medal Award 1998
Naked Justice- (Fawcett/Random House - February 1997)
Cruel Justice- (Ballantine/Random House - January 1996)
Double Jeopardy- (Ballantine/Random House - March 1995)
Perfect Justice- (Ballantine/Random House - January 1994)
Winner of Oklahoma Book Award 1995
Selected for Legal Thrillers: Your Guide to 50 Great Books(1999)
Deadly Justice- (Ballantine/Random House - June 1993)
The Code of Buddyhood- (Available Press/Random House – December 1992)
Blind Justice- (Ballantine/Random House - October 1992)
Discussed in The New Yorker, March 12, 1993
Primary Justice- (Ballantine/Random House - January 1992)
Natural Suspect- (Ballantine/Random House - December 2001) (editor)
Legal Briefs: Stories by Today’s Best Thriller Writers(Doubleday - May 1998) (editor)
Abridged Audio: Simon & Schuster Audioworks 1998
Thinking Theme: The Heart of the Matter – (Babylon Books – August 2017)
Excellent Editing: The Writing Process – (Babylon Books – May 2016
Promising Premise: Writing the Irresistible – (Babylon Books – March 2015)
Sizzling Style: Every Word Matters – (Babylon Books – April 2014)
Dynamic Dialogue: Letting Your Story Speak - (Babylon Books – February 2014)
Perfecting Plot: Charting the Hero’s Journey – (Babylon Books - July 2013)
Creating Character: Bringing Your Story to Life – (Babylon Books - June 2013)
Story Structure: The Key to Successful Fiction – (Babylon Books – May 2013)
For young readers:
Equal Justice: The Courage of Ada Sipuel– (OK Arts Institute – December 2006) (with Kim Henry)
Selected Short Stories:
“After Hours” – Thriller 3, edited by Sandra Brown (June 2012)
“Yuletide Justice” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine– January 1997 (reprinted in The Cutting Edge: The Best and Brightest
Mystery Writers of the 90s, Janet Hutchings ed., Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1998).
“The Learned Profession” – Oklahoma Today– September 1995
“Another Legal Thriller” – Oklahoma Today– July-August 1994
“The Silver-Gray Tie Tack” – Verdict – Spring 1987
The Ocean’s Edge – (Red Dirt Press –June 2016)
The White Bird – (Balkan Press – July 2013)
Selected Poetry Publications:
“Doubt,” “Florentine Scarf,” “oklahoma twilight” – Red Dirt Forum(Fall 2017)
“Salon,” “Twyla,” and “On the Road with Emily” – Emerge(Summer 2017)
“Circle” - OklahomaHumanities Magazine(Spring 2017).
“Music and Biology” and “Aftertaste” – Pegasus, Spring 2017
“AIB 13,”and “Valentine’s Day” – Red Truck Review: A Journal of American Southern Literature and Culture, Jan 2015.
“Grammar,” “My Finest Hour,” and “#23” — Pegasus, Spring 2013.
“After Meeting J. M Coetzee,” “AIB 13,” and “The Time Traveller” — New Mirage JournalWinter 2012.
“Shakespeare’s Daughter,” “Alexithymia,” “The Historian,” “The Professor” — Conclave: A Journal of Character, Autumn 2012.
“Wraiths” – Rose Red Review, Summer 2012
“Scratches” – Weinberg Memorial Library Newsletter– Spring 2010
“What Happened While I Was Away?” – Caveat Lector– Winter/Spring 2009
“My Holland” – Language and Culture– Winter 2008
“The Smartest Man in Covent Garden” – The Journal (UK)- Summer 2008
“Deck Party” – Caveat Lector– Winter/Spring 2008
Interview,Writers on Writing, Allen Mendenhall, Red Dirt Press 2018
“Doubting the Eyewitness,” Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Larry King ed., Phoenix Press 2006
“Ada Sipuel: An Oklahoma Profile in Courage” – Oklahoma: Magazine of the OK Heritage Assn– Fall/Winter 2006
Interviewed about writing in Their Word is Law: Bestselling Lawyer-Novelists Talk About Their Craft, Stephen M. Murray ed.,
Berkley Books, 2002.
New York Timesdaily crossword puzzles, collected in The New York Times Daily Crossword Puzzles, Volume 55, Random, 2000.
“The Partner Track,” For the Good of the Firm, Dove Audio (audio original), 1999
“Destination: Black Mesa,” Oklahoma Today– March-April 1999
“If Everyone Hates Lawyers So Much, Why Are They Buying My Books?” Mystery Scene, March/April 1996
2014 – Present University of Central Oklahoma
Teaching English Composition 3/3 as an adjunct professor in the Humanities Department.
2010 – 2014 Rose State College
Taught English Composition 4/4 as adjunct professor in Humanities Department, including online classes.
2011 – 2013 Oklahoma State University
Taught fiction writing classes for Oklahoma State University Arts and Sciences Outreach.
2005 – Present Writing Instructor
Teaching fiction writing seminars in many locations, including Oklahoma, New York, California, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Hawaii. Topics taught include story structure, character creation, plot, style, dialogue, description, and many others. Also instructor of legal writing seminars for attorneys.
1991 – Present Writer
Author of over forty published books, beginning with the crime novel Primary Justice(1991) and the literary novel The Code of Buddyhood (1992), and more recently including creative nonfiction Nemesis (2009), a historical novel (2016), eight books on fiction writing (2013-16) and two books of poetry, as well as plays, a musical (book, lyrics, and music), New York Timescrossword puzzles, essays, and humor. Editor of two charitable-fundraiser anthologies, Legal Briefs (1998) and Natural Suspect (2001). Author of three books for children, including the biography Equal Justice: The Courage of Ada Lois Sipuel (2007).
In addition to teaching and writing, Bernhardt also publishes a literary journal, Conclave, and two book imprints, Babylon Books and Balkan Press. He also records audiobooks and edits and mentors other writers through his Patreon page. Other recent Bernhardt projects have included writing the music, lyrics, and script for a musical (he is an accomplished pianist and songwriter), creating a board game, producing two music CDs, constructing crossword puzzles published in The New York Times, jumping out of an airplane at 10,000 feet, and kissing a dolphin. Bernhardt’s many activities within and beyond the world of literature led OSU to dub him “Oklahoma’s Renaissance Man.”
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