William L. Heath was born in 1924, in Lake Village, Arkansas, and grew up in Scottsboro, Alabama. In 1942 he entered the University of Virginia, but his attendance there was interrupted when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, in which he served for three years as an aerial radio operator during WWII. He served overseas for seventeen months in the CBI theatre, flying the Hump, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Mr. Heath returned to the University of Virginia after his discharge and completed a B.A. degree in English Literature. During his senior year there, he published several short stories in the school magazine, won the Virginia Spectator Literary Award, and sold his first story to Collier’s. He went on to publish three dozen short stories, which were published in Argosy, Esquire, Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, and other publications of smaller circulation.
His first novel, Violent Saturday, was published in 1955. It was voted “Suspense Novel of the Year” by Cosmopolitan and later that same year 20th Century Fox released a movie based on the novel with an all-star cast including Victor Mature, Richard Egan, Stephen McNally, Sylvia Sydney, Tommy Noonan, J. Carrol Naish, Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine.
Mr. Heath’s second novel, Ill Wind, received literary acclaim and established him as a writer with exceptional talent. He followed Ill Wind with eight more novels over the course of his career.
Mr. Heath lived in Scottsboro, Alabama, with his wife of more than 30 years, Mary Ann Heath. After her death he moved to Guntersville, Alabama, where he lived until his death in 2007.
Novels by W. L. Heath
Blood on the River (also published as Temptation In a Southern Town)
A Hackamore Saga (also published as The Good Old Boys)
Last Known Position
It’s Always Five O’clock
Most Valuable Player
Max the Great
The Earthquake Man