Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Bill Fitzhugh began writing professionally while in high school when — through the Junior Achievement Program — he wrote and narrated a series of radio programs tracing the history of various rock and roll bands. He was soon working overnight shifts at WZZQ-FM, the station where those programs aired. After graduating high school he became morning drive DJ at the station.
A few years later, bored, and under the mistaken impression that he knew all there was to know about radio, Bill moved to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands in an attempt to model his life after Jimmy Buffett. He was soon working on a squalid freight-charter boat between St. Thomas and St. John, longing for the comfort of a seat behind a microphone.
He returned to Mississippi and spent one year at Belhaven College while working as a DJ at Main Harbor Nightclub. He then spent a year-and-a-half at the University of Southern Mississippi while continuing to work on the air and to work as a Program and Music Director at a commercial radio station.
Moving to Seattle in 1981 to attend the University of Washington (where he eventually earned a degree in psychology), Bill met Matt Hansen, a writer-producer at a local advertising agency. Bill and Matt subsequently wrote, performed in, produced, and syndicated a radio program called “Radio Free Comedy,” which aired on several radio stations across the country. Bill and Matt eventually raised enough capital to produce a television pilot based on these radio scripts. The pilot was called “Stellavision.” Despite lavish praise by critics, no one bought it. And if someone would show me how to do it, I’d post the sketches from Stellavision here or on You Tube…
Bill moved to Los Angeles in 1988 and began looking for TV writing jobs. Matt joined him a year later and in October of 1989 they made their first sale to a network (NBC) television show, “Grand.” Their career immediately stalled.
The next summer Bill and Matt were hired to work on a completely forgettable Fox Television program called “Haywire.” Four weeks later they were hired away from Fox to work for Norman Lear’s company on a show called “Jody Gordon and The News.” Four weeks after that, the show was canceled and Bill and Matt’s agent stopped returning their calls.
By August of 1991, Bill and Matt had finished writing a screenplay called “Pest Control.” A producer by the name of Peter Samuelson optioned the script but was unable to get it set up at any of the studios and it appeared that “Pest Control” was going nowhere. For the next three years, Bill and Matt tried, in vain, to interest Hollywood in “Pest Control” as a screenplay. (Matt found work selling cars — with the purchase of every new Volvo, you got a copy of the “Pest Control” screenplay.)
Knowing he had a great story, Bill decided to turn it into a novel. During his entomological research for the book, Bill was hired to write the “Insect” episode for the BBC “Eyewitness” series. After completing the novel and being rejected by over 130 agents, the brilliant and handsome Jimmy Vines read the manuscript, took it on, and the rest, as they say, is history.
That history includes the sale of the “Pest Control” film rights to Warner Brothers Studios for producer Paula Weinstein’s Spring Creek Productions.
“Pest Control” was sold to publishers in the US, UK, Japan, Germany, Romania, Spain, and Italy. It was one of Amazon’s Top 50 mysteries for 1997.
“The Organ Grinders” was a Border’s Books “Original Voices” selection for September 1998 and was published in the UK in 2000.
Universal Studios bought the film rights to “Cross Dressing” for director Tom Shadyac (Liar Liar, Patch Adams, Nutty Professor, Ace Ventura). The novel was published in June of 2000 and received the Best Fiction Award from the Mississippi Library Association in October of 2002. Foreign publishing rights for “Cross Dressing” were sold in the UK and in Germany.
“Fender Benders” was published in November of 2001 and received the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Novel that year as awarded by the Left Coast Crime Convention.
“Heart Seizure” was published in 2003, “Radio Activity” in 2004, and “Highway 61 Resurfaced”, in 2005.
After that, “The Adventures of Slim and Howdy” which I did with my pals Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, seen below…