Bill Meissner, a St. Cloud State University Faculty Emeritus of the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English, will publish his 11th book this fall.
Meissner’s newest book, “Summer of Rain, Summer of Fire”, will debut in late November. The novel is set in the late 1960s, focusing on the effects of the Vietnam War on a family in Central Wisconsin.
The fictional main character Phil is caught between the anti-war sentiments of his new girlfriend and the wishes of his father, who served in World War II and helped Phil gain a job at an Ammunitions Plant.
Shannon Olson, a current St. Cloud State professor of English, had high praise for Meissner’s newest novel.
“At the center of this compelling novel is the Keyhoe family— stern Karl at the helm, sensitive teenage son, Phil, and the quietly heroic and eminently likeable Frances, wife and mother, holding the family together—each of them trying to do what’s right, motivated by duty and love,” Olson said. “Those tensions propel this beautifully crafted and, at times, gently funny novel—a story of families and community in conflict, cultural upheaval, and, ultimately, hope for change.”
Meissner’s story has historical roots in little-known incident involving the aerial bombing of a Wisconsin powder production plant in 1969.
The political clashes in the book also mirror divisiveness in present-day America, something Meissner hopes readers can take away from the story.
“I wanted to write a historical piece about the late 1960s, where America was in a turbulent state with young people struggling,” Meissner said. “It parallels a lot of social unrest we see in America today … I think students will identify with that journey and conflict.”
He published his first novel “Spirits in the Grass” in 2008, which won the Midwest Book Award. Meissner taught at St. Cloud State with an emphasis on creative writing, poetry and fiction.
His first few published books were books of poetry, followed by short stories. He developed his knack for short story writing after giving himself the same assignments he gave his students at St. Cloud State.
“It’s a journey of sorts to go from a 50-word poem to a five-page short story to a 300-page novel,” Meissner said. “There is a lot of love, sweat and tears.”
Meissner also taught a course at St. Cloud State on the 1960s, which he said helped when writing his recent novel. He also credited the expert advice of his wife Chris on helping him edit the story.
Find more details and pre-order “Summer of Rain, Summer of Fire.”