William Dietrich grew up near Puget Sound in the shadow of Mount Rainier.The
influence of dramatic landscapes on people permeates not only his non-fiction but
his novels, which are set in various places around the globe including Antarctica, the Australian Outback, Tibet, and the Caribbean.
The Pulitzer-winning journalists non-fiction has been widely used in university classes and his fiction has been sold into twenty-eight languages.
Dietrich was born on Sept. 29, 1951 in Tacoma, WA, graduated from Mount Tahoma High School, and attended Fairhaven College, an experimental liberal arts division of Western Washington University. Interest in writing led him to journalism at Western, and his first job was covering agricultural Skagit County for the Bellingham, WA, Herald.
Dietrich moved back to the same area a quarter-century later, now residing only twenty miles from that first bureau office. In 2006, he took a half-time position as an assistant professor teaching environmental journalism and writing at Western.
From Bellingham in 1974, he was soon sent to report from the state capital in Olympia and then covered Congress for Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C. Not exactly enamored of life "inside the beltway," he returned to the Northwest to write for the Vancouver Columbian in time to cover the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens next door. In 1982 he took a job at the Seattle Times, where he worked, on and off, through 2008. Times assignments provided wonderful opportunities to report from the Arctic and Antarctic and to circle the globe, covering subjects ranging from the military to the environment. He won reporting and study fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Woods Hole Microbiological Institute, and Scripps.
His first book, The Final Forest, (1992) grew out of his reporting on the spotted owl and old growth forest debate that convulsed the Pacific Northwest. Northwest Passage (1995) is an environmental and cultural history of the Columbia River inspired by its imperiled salmon runs and epic pioneer past.
Dietrich covered many science-related topics. A 1994 fellowship to Antarctica prompted the author to take a stab at a lifelong goal of writing a novel by producing the World War II bio-terrorism thriller Ice Reich (1998).
He followed this with an Orwellian view of stultifying globalization and wilderness release in the Australian eco-fable Getting Back (2000) and then returned to Antarctica and the South Pole for the claustrophobic murder thriller Dark Winter (2001).
Dietrich has loved history since childhood and a 1996 visit to Great Britain led to the ancient Roman fortification across northern England known as Hadrians Wall. Even before his first novel was published he was determined to write a story about this evocative place, and the result is a war and romance novel set in Roman Britain called Hadrians Wall (2004).
Meanwhile, some of the essays he has written about nature for the Seattle Times were collected to create Natural Grace (2003). Royalties are donated to land preservation and environmental education.
Dietrichs fascination with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire continued into a novel about Attila the Hun called The Scourge of God (2005).
He then approached the ancient world from a different perspective, writing a novel of pyramid lore set against Bonapartes 1798 invasion of Egypt and called Napoleons Pyramids (2007). A sequel set during Napoleons 1799 invasion of the Holy Land, The Rosetta Key, was published in 2008, and Ethan Gage returns in The Dakota Cipher in 2009. Another book on the American adventurer is in the works.
Dietrich is still married to the wonderful woman he met in college, has two grown daughters, and when not writing or reporting he reads, hikes, sails, watches movies, remodels, and waves around the Roman cavalry sword his wife got to inspire him.
From the author's website.
This biography was last updated on 08/23/2013.
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