IAMTW Names 2010’s Grandmaster (no, not me)

The following release went out yesterday and while I catch up on work, I thought I’d share this with you. The honoree, William Johnston is most deserving and I recall reading many of his books while in elementary and junior high school. The best part is, Johnston is still with us and can appreciate the accolade.

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is bestowing The Faust, its Grand Master Award for excellence, to author William Johnston, the writer of over a hundred tie-in novels and the most prolific practitioner of the craft, it was announced today by organization co-founders Max Allan Collins and Lee Goldberg.

Johnston was born in Lincoln, Illinois, in 1924. He joined the Navy in 1942 and served in the Pacific. He worked as a disc jockey, advertising executive, magazine editor, and PR man before his writing career took off in 1960 with The Marriage Cage, a comic mystery that earned him a Best First Novel Edgar Award nomination from the Mystery Writers of America. He followed that book with a slew of pulp titles for Monarch Books, ranging from light comedy (The Power of Positive Loving) to medical romance (the Doctor Starr trilogy) to soft-core erotica (Save Her for Loving, Teen Age Tramp, Girls on the Wing).

Johnston’s medical novels dovetailed with his first tie-in assignments — original novels based on the TV series The Nurses, Doctor Kildare and Ben Casey. Those books, published between 1962 and 1964, were so successful that his next original medical romance, Two Loves Has Nurse Powell, was presented as “From the author of Ben Casey.”

In 1965, Johnston wrote an original novel based on the TV comedy Get Smart. The book was a huge success, leading to nine more novels over the show’s five-season history and making him to “go-to” guy for sitcom-based tie-ins. He wrote books based on Captain Nice, Room 222, Happy Days, Welcome Back Kotter, The Flying Nun, The Brady Bunch, Nanny and the Professor, The Munsters, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, The Monkees and F-Troop, among others.

But his TV tie-in work extended far beyond sitcom adaptations. He wrote books based on Ironside, Dick Tracy, The Young Rebels, The Iron Horse, Then Came Bronson, and Rod Serling’s The New People, to name a few. He even adapted the cartoon characters Magilla Gorilla and Snagglepuss into books for children.

Johnston also penned many novelizations, including the pilots for the 1930s-era private eye series Banyon and the high school drama Sons and Daughters. His feature film novelizations include Klute, The Swinger, Echoes of a Summer, The New Interns, The Priest’s Wife, Lt. Robin Crusoe USN and his final tie-in project, Gore Vidal’s Caligula (under the pseudonym “William Howard”).

After retiring from fiction writing, he opened his own bar, which he operated for many years. He currently resides in San Jose, California.

The International Association of Media Tie-in Writers is dedicated to enhancing the professional and public image of tie-in writers, educating people about the craft and business of tie-in writing, and to providing a forum for tie-in writers to share information, support one another, and discuss issues relating to their field

The Faust, the IAMTW’s Grandmaster Award, is named in honor of Frederick Faust (also known as Max Brand) and is given annually. The award recognizes a writer for their extensive and exceptional work in the tie-in field. Past honorees have been Donald Bain, Alan Dean Foster, and Keith R.A. DeCandido.

2 comments

  • Steve Roby

    Excellent news! I loved his Get Smart books, and Captain Nice (never saw the actual show — did anyone?), and Bewitched, and Happy Days. I had no idea he was still around, so it’s great he’s being recognized now.

  • Here, here, Bob (and Steve)! Thanks for the news! I still have my copies of those Get Smart books, and a bunch of others, and I must say that an important portion of my sad, pathetic sense of humor (V.T. Brattleboro, anyone?) comes from there. So congratulations to Bill Johnston!

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