St. Cloud State Faculty Emeritus to publish 11th book in November – St. Cloud State TODAY


Bill Meissner, professor emeritus of the faculty of creative writing in the English department at St. Cloud State University, will publish his 11th book this fall.

Meissner’s latest book, “Summer of Rain, Summer of Fire”, will be released at the end of November. The novel is set in the late 1960s and focuses on the effects of the Vietnam War on a family in central Wisconsin.

The fictional main character Phil is caught between his new girlfriend’s anti-war sentiments and the wishes of his father, who served in World War II and helped Phil get a job at a munitions factory.

Shannon Olson, currently an English teacher at St. Cloud State, praised Meissner’s latest novel.

“At the center of this fascinating novel is the Keyhoe family – the stern Karl at the helm, the sensitive teenage son, Phil, and the quietly heroic and eminently sympathetic wife and mother Frances, who keeps the family together – each of them trying to do what’s right, driven by duty and love,” Olson said. “These tensions propel this beautifully crafted and, at times, mildly funny novel – a tale of conflicting families and communities, upheaval cultures and, ultimately, hope for change.”

Meissner’s story has historical roots in a little-known incident involving the aerial bombing of a Wisconsin gunpowder factory in 1969.

The political clashes in the book also reflect the divisions in America today, which 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 troubled young people,” Meissner said. “It parallels a lot of the social unrest we see in America today…I think students will identify with this journey and this 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 published books were collections of poetry, followed by short stories. He developed his talent for writing short stories after giving himself the same assignments he gave his students at St. Cloud State.

“It’s kind of a journey from a 50-word poem to a five-page short story to a 300-page novel,” Meissner said. “There’s a lot of love, sweat and tears.”

Meissner also taught a class at St. Cloud State in the 1960s, which he says helped him while writing his recent novel. He also credited the expert advice of his wife Chris for helping him edit the story.

Find more details and pre-order “Summer of Rain, Summer of Fire”.

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