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Hart Unlocks Target of Greed

by Greta Petry (April 7, 2006)

William J. Hart

William J. Hart

By day, locksmith William J. Hart's attention is taken up by his share of the 25,000 University at Albany doors whose keys need attention. But when he leaves the key shop, located on the Social Science dock in the tunnels, the adventure begins.

That adventure is writing. Hart, 48, a University at Albany employee since May 1994, is self-publishing his first novel, Target of Greed.

The book is about two recent University at Albany graduates and best friends, Mike Reed and Frank Williams, who become caught up in a web of power, greed, and murder.

Hart has been in the locksmith trade for more than 30 years. "I have a satisfying career. I enjoy doing what I do. When most people look at a key, they just see the key. To me it is a mathematical problem to solve, one of exact measurements," he said.

He used to write about safes in a column for a trade magazine called Safe and Vault Technology, and missed writing after another lock association took over the magazine in the 1990s. Last June, he had the idea to write a novel and now he has planned a sequel to Target of Greed, and has plans for four additional novels. "It is such an escape to sit down and create a character," said Hart, a native of East Greenbush and a firefighter with the Clinton Heights Fire Department for 30 years. "You can make the characters mean and nasty or sweet and pleasant. Things can happen to your characters and no one gets hurt," he said.

With seven children ages 10 to 26, and one granddaughter, he writes "with the walls shaking, the TV on, and the kids up and down."

As a part-time dispatcher in the East Greenbush Police Department, Hart also works the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift twice a week. When the phones are not ringing, he may be thinking about his characters' next move.

"I was always a daydreamer," Hart said. "I was awarded a patent in the late 1980s for a heatsnake tool I designed. It is used to thaw out the internal door linkage and locks on autos without a damaging flame. It's like a portable propane-powered hair dryer." The tool made its debut at a locksmith trade show in Chicago and a tow truck trade show in Hershey, Pa.

With a children's book completed (Don't Be Afraid, I'm Your Friend) awaiting illustration, he is now at work on The Forgotten X, a modern-day treasure hunt off the coast of Key West, Fla. Hart said, "I am just having the best time with it."


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