Thursday, May 30, 2024

Crossing Day

 It's been one hundred and sixty years since the Confederacy won its independence at the Battle of Altamaha Crossing. Slaves of African descent still perform most of the work in the South. This seems normal to Ryan Walters and his friends who attend high school in Huntsville, Alabama. Like teens everywhere, they enjoy sharing videos, playing sports, and hanging out with friends. Jaybird's drive-in is their favorite gathering place. There, they befriend Mish, a slave girl who works as a car hop. When the drive-in’s owner sells Mish to a dirty old man, Ryan and his friends awaken to the injustice around them. Despite the danger, they decide to help Mish escape. Will they succeed?

read an excerpt...

The referee blows her whistle and points to the Joseph Johnston High School goal. It’s a foul, just outside the penalty area. Hastily, several defenders form a wall. Liam Larsen, the goalkeeper, shouts directions.

“Block that kick, block that kick,” the Johnston cheerleaders yell.

Melanie Montgomery, wearing her purple and gold cheerleader outfit, catches the eye of one of the boys on the squad. He nods as she runs toward him and then leaps, placing her foot into his waiting hands. Melanie’s world dissolves into a swirl of color. She comes to earth with a thud.

“Nice landing,” the boy says.

“Thanks.” Melanie glances at the scoreboard and sees that despite their efforts, another goal has been added to the visitor’s tally. “I hate these German schools,” she pouts.

“Yeah, they act like they invented the game,” one of the other cheerleaders exclaims.

There’s no injury time added in high school soccer, so the match comes to a screeching halt when the clock winds down and the buzzer goes off. Most players line up to shake hands, but three of the Germans laugh and walk off. Their coach gives a Hitler salute to the Johnston stands. A chorus of boos greets his gesture.

“Everyone on the line,” Sam Gorman, the Johnston soccer coach, shouts. He crosses his arms and glares at his players threateningly until the whole team is on the touchline. “All right, Ryan,” he says to the team captain, “cool down.”


about Bill Glass...

Bill is a retired business executive who now lives in a small southern town with his wife, Bettina. She’s a retired high school German teacher. Bill coaches soccer at a small college. Often, Bettina, who has a commercial driver’s license, pilots the soccer team bus to away games.

Bettina and Bill have three sons, Alex, Robert, and Gordon who have all graduated from college and moved away to pursue careers. Instead of having an empty nest, Bettina and Bill now host three rescue dogs. They enjoy finding promising hiking trails to explore with their dogs.










more personal "stuff" about Bill Glass:

Q Does this book have a special meaning to you? i.e. where you found the idea, its symbolism, its meaning, who you dedicated it to, what made you want to write it?

A. Thanks for having me here at Our Town Book Review. Your first question addresses a vital issue: motivation. I’m not a professional writer. My job at a small college is what pays the bills. With Crossing Day, my motivation for putting my fishing rod away and getting to work stemmed from a desire to debunk the pro-Confederacy propaganda I grew up with. The Civil War is still much discussed and debated in the United States, even 160 years later. I was born in 1947, only 82 years after Appomattox. At that time, people in East Texas, where my mother was from, talked about the Civil War like it was yesterday. They called it “The War,” as though the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II were minor events. In a way, they were correct; more Americans were killed during the Civil War than in all those wars combined. For the folks in East Texas, hatred of the Yankees and veneration of the “Glorious Cause” of the Confederacy was the order of the day. They had been taught that the South fought only to defend the principle of “States Rights” and that slavery had nothing to do with it. If the North had left the South alone, they had been told, slavery would have died out on its own. Somewhere along the way, I began to rebel against this nonsense. The more I read, the more I realized that these and other myths were promoted in the years after “The War” by Southern leaders to white-wash their history (no pun intended!). I don’t like being fooled, so for many years, I wanted to write a novel that would let the air out of the tires of Southern apologists.  Why a novel? Well, I’m not an academician, so I had no qualifications for writing a non-fiction book about how the Daughters of the Confederacy and other organizations rewrote Civil War history.  To get my point across, I would have to bury it in a novel.

Q. Where do you get your storylines from?

A. A fiction writer's primary duty is to entertain readers. So, my challenge with Crossing Day was to create a story that would enthrall readers while also bringing out my main theme. It took a long time to think of the right angle, primarily because I kept putting the story in the past. Several factors finally came together to help me decide on the present-day South for the setting. Once that decision was made, the storyline came into focus.

Q. Was this book easier or more difficult to write than others?  Why?

A. My first two novels, As Good As Can Be and Off-Broadway: A Marriage Drama, were autobiographical. I never came to a juncture where it was necessary to dream up where the story was going next. Crossing Day came from imagination. I started it with only a general idea of the plot. So, while writing, pausing and figuring out what the characters might do next was often necessary. You would think that Crossing Day would have been much harder because of this. But not so. That’s mainly because I was learning to write creatively when I did the first two books. By the time I began writing Crossing Day, I knew more about what I was doing, so in many ways, it was easier.

Q. Do you only write one genre?

A. My first two novels were set in the past and are considered historical fiction. Crossing Day is speculative fiction. A thriller based on alternative history. So, all my books are about history in one way or another.

Q. Give us a picture of where you write, where you compose these words…is it Starbucks, a den, a garden…we want to know your inner sanctum?

A. Great question! My inner sanctum is normally outside. Right now, I’m sitting on a camp chair in a park just a few feet from the Savannah River. This is a weekend getaway. My regular spot is our front porch. Thanks to the mild weather where we live in South Carolina, this works for a large part of the year. On days the weather doesn’t cooperate, I transfer to the den.

Q. And finally, of course…was there any specific event or circumstance that made you want to be a writer?

A. I never wanted to be a writer. Growing up, my only ambition was to graduate high school and move as far from my family as possible. I took up writing at age 55 because by then I had such a wild life, I knew the fodder for at least one novel was there. I didn’t want to go to my grave knowing I’d left the story unwritten. 

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