About Bill Syken


Bill Syken (a k a, me)  is the author of the novel HANGMAN’S GAME, which was published by Thomas Dunne Books/Minotaur/St. Martin’s and is available for purchase now. Booklist has called HANGMAN’S GAME “the very best sports-themed mystery in years.”

I worked in journalism for many years,  beginning in 1993, reporting on news and features at the Centre Daily Times in State College Pa. and later for the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle. Then I moved to New York City, where I worked at a magazine called Art & Antiques and a technology publication called On, before joining Sports Illustrated. I worked at Sports Illustrated as a reporter and editor from 2002-2009, and my work there greatly informed Hangman’s Game.

Because I was one of the few reporters at Sports Illustrated who did not come from a traditional sports background, many of my early stories were found on the fringes. I wrote about such topics the rise of women’s collegiate bowling (because it’s a cheap way to comply with Title IX), the tailgaiting scene at a Jackson State-Southern game (easily the day in my life in which I ate the most), and high school football in American Samoa, which was fascinating. Suffice to say it was the only time in my journalism career that I was interviewing someone, noticed a sudden breeze, and looked up to see the subject’s teenage daughter fanning me with a palm frond.

In 2007 I wrote a profile about Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez for SI’s Spanish language publication, and that story had an unexpected influence. I was at Colts minicamp and saw a quarterback I didn’t recognize throwing passes to linebackers during an interception drill. I looked down on my roster and saw this quarterback was actually the team’s punter, and became to ruminate about how much free time he had on his hands. The character of Nick “Hangman” Gallow began to take form in my imagination, if not quite yet on the page.

At the end of 2009 I left the SI staff, moved to Philadelphia and began to work on HANGMAN’S GAME in earnest, completing the novel while continuing to work for SI on special projects, mostly books and also single-topic newsstand issues—on fantasy football, the life of Arnold Palmer, that sort of thing.

In 2016 I married Jennifer Weiner. That was good. Hello, fans of Jen!

Thanks for visiting.



14 thoughts on “About Bill Syken

  1. Are you related to Kenneth Syken? During and after law school I worked for B. Nathaniel Richter et al. Kenny Syken was Nate’s legal brain and rode herd over a crazy office filled with good lawyers. I remember Kenny’s smile and patience.
    I just finished “Hangman”s Game”. Saw your picture and put the above together.

    • Buzz,

      Hello. Yes, Kenneth Syken is my father. I remember coming to the Richter Syken & Ross offices back when I was a kid. My dad is down in Florida now, doing well. I will pass this message on to him.

      Thanks for writing (and for reading).

      Take care,


  2. I just finished your novel “Hangman’s Game” and I loved it! I have recommended it to quite a few people. I hope there is more to come.
    Marcy Gansel

  3. I just finished Hangman;s Noose, and I will be telling everybody I know about it. Very impressed with it being your first novel. Any person
    who has ever been into sports has to love this book. I can hardly wait for the next one,

  4. Amazing book. Congratulations. Will there be another?
    Have you read the sports book Just Kick It? Worth the read.
    About a semipro Boston Panthers team and a unlikely kicker.

  5. Syken is a common name on my family tree, but you are not there. Are you descended from Hirsh and chaim MovshaShaken, Bentzel Leib and Yonkel Shmuel Syken from Vilna. Please let me know.

  6. Hi Billy Syken,
    Sorry for the “Billy” but it’s how I know you. It’s Lynne Plotnick. Just now, I was reading about Jennifer in Hadassah magazine and saw your name. I had to look it up to see if it was THE Billy Syken. One look at your picture is all it took!

    I ran (literally, I was running on the boardwalk) into your parents randomly in Margate a few years ago. They were the same. Adorable and funny. Your dad’s sense of humor was a welcome reminder of home and growing up on BurnBrae Dr.

    I just wanted to say hello and also congratulations. I’m not a sports fan but now I may have a great reason to read your book :). It’s Billy’s book, after all.

    Be well and please give my regards to your family!


    • Lynne,

      What a pleasant surprise! So great to hear from you. Thanks for writing. Hope all is well with you and yours. Take care, Bill

  7. Dear Bill: How might I be able to acquire 144 issues of the magnificent S.I. Arnold Palmer Commemorative Edition? I’m helping produce a golf fundraiser, The Spring Golf Classic May 19th at Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson to benefit Easterseals Blake Foundation. I can think of nothing better than our awesome golfers finding this Arnie homage in their goodie bags. Thanks so much Betsy Bruce ESB Board President

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