Working name of US writer Chester Carlton Williamson (1948- ), who began publishing work of genre interest with "Offices" (Twilight Zone 1981). CW is a versatile writer with a gift for exceptional characterization, and typically infuses his work with a variety of subthemes. "Blue Notes" (1989), concerning a debt-ridden, drug-addicted saxophonist, proposes that, just as there are "blue notes" to be found in the aural areas between defined notes, there is a similar "twilight zone" between life and death. "Confessions of St James" (1989) is a penetrating tale of a pastor with a taste for human flesh who finds justification for his dark urges in the ingesting of the Host during the communion rite. In "The Bookman" (1991) a book collector attending an estate sale finds that the house's former occupant was compelled to collect books in an attempt to satiate an invisible presence with a bibliophilic bent. In the disturbing "Coventry Carol" (1994) the Ghost of a miscarried foetus haunts the distraught parents.
Much in the style of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (1959), CW's debut novel Soulstorm (1986) features five people trapped in a mountaintop mansion, where they must face first the ghosts of every person who has ever been damned, and later an immensely evil force. An array of spirits is also at the heart of Ash Wednesday (1987), a study of the ravages of guilt, in which all of the people who ever died in a small Pennsylvania town suddenly return as ghosts to confront the town's residents. Reign (1990) is an interesting, if sometimes sluggish, attempt to blend novel and stage play, most notably by switching to a script format during climactic scenes: a veteran theatre star who has had an extremely successful career playing a single character finds himself and his troupe visited by the murderous embodiment of that character. Second Chance (1994) is a Time-Travel fantasy. [BM]
other works: Lowland Rider (1988); McKain's Dilemma (1988); Dreamthorp (1989); The House Of Fear (1989 chap); Ravenloft: Mordenheim * (1994), game tie; Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller * (1995), sf game tie.
Chester Carlton Williamson