Georgia Center for the Book

William Rawlings, Jr.

Georgia Connections

  • Sandersville, Washington County

Notes of Interest

William Rawlings, Jr. is the author of five popular novels and has contributed to many newspapers and magazines in addition to producing many scientific papers in his role as a physician in private practice in Sandersville. Now semi-retired as a physician in internal medicine, he is Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Mercer University School of Medicine.

William Rawlings, Jr. was born July 2, 1948, in Sandersville, where his forebears settled in the late 18th and early 19th century. Most were farmers, but others practiced law and medicine. "We stay here because this seems to be the place we belong," he has written. He was educated in the public schools of Washington County and received his undergraduate degree at Emory University in 1969. He received his doctor of Medicine degree and Masters Degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the Tulane University School of Medicine and School of Tropical Medicine 1969-73. He did his post-doctoral residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University 1973-76. He has practiced medicine in Sandersville since 1976. "One of the most fascinating jobs in all the world is to practice medicine in a small, relatively rural Southern town," he has written. His academic work includes more than 25 peer-reviewed scioentific papers on various topics.

He began fiction writing relatively late in life. His first novel, the thriller "The Lazard Legacy," was published in 2003 when he was 55. Set in a small Georgia town much like Sandersville, it involves a doctor escaping big-city life only to stumble onto a niughtmarish secret. It was followed by other thrillers, "The Rutherford Cipher" in 2004, The Tate Revenge" in 2005 (winner of the Golden Eye Award), "Crossword" in 2006 and "The Mile High Club" in 2009. He travels widely all over the globe especially through South America.

Of his start as a writer, Rawlings wrote in 2009, "I sort of backed into it. I've always been both a reader and a good typist, and at some point in my life assumed those skills were all one really needed to be a 'writer.' Having small children at the time, and being limited as to how I could spend my evenings, I decided to write a short story. I thought it was kind of good, so I let my friends read it, and they thought it was kind of good, so I said to myself, obviously you can write a novel. And I did. It was the most wonderful first novel ever written, full of meaning and symbolism, with clever and subtle turns of phrase, and a marvelous story line. So I sent it off to publishing folks, and they said (correctly) this really sucks.

"Badly stung, I sat down and over a period of a couple of years tried to teach myself to write based on what other writers I admired had done. Then I wrote another manuscript ("The Lazard Legacy") which became a commercial success with a conventional publisher. Retrospectively, that was not a very well written book either, but people bought it and I felt truly onligated to turn out some decent writing. So I wrote my second, third, fourth, etc. And having discovered during this time that I really, really like writing, I now find myself somewhat addicted to it."

Further Reading

  • Author Web Site
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