As Good As Can Be
by William A. Glass
GENRE: Coming of Age/Historical Fiction
Dave Knight is a wayward child growing up in a military family during the 1950s. His older sister wants to kill him but settles for regularly beating him up. Other siblings join in the mayhem while their alcoholic father contributes to the chaos with his unique approach to parenting.
As the Knight family moves from one army base to the next, Dave develops a give-a-damn attitude that often leads to trouble. In high school, he joins other delinquents in a series of escapades, some dangerous, others funny, and a few that would be worthy of jail time should they ever be caught.
After barely graduating, Dave is drafted into the army and sent to guard a nuclear weapons depot in Korea. There, he gets into trouble with his sergeant and tries to avoid dishonorable discharge.
Two rocking chairs are arranged in front of the fireplace. On the mantle is a signed photograph of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Mr. Lawson takes the picture down and shows it to Dave. “My pappy rode with Forrest,” the old man says. “He killed a lot of Yankees, you know, in the war.” Mr. Lawson looks at Dave expectantly but is disappointed by the uncomprehending expression on the child’s face. Carefully he places his prized possession back over the fireplace.
Dave and Melissa return to Gram’s house in time for lunch. After eating, the Knight children have another quiet time. Then Ethel comes up with an idea. “Let’s take a ride out to the river,” she suggests.
“What for?” Knight asks.
“I want to see if the rain the other day caused it to rise.”
“Come on, it’s something to do,” Bobbie says impatiently.
The family piles into the Plymouth and rides a short distance to where the Trinity River flows. Knight parks on the shoulder of the highway, and they all go onto the bridge to peer at the muddy water. It’s an evil-looking stream, full of snags and home to alligators, cottonmouths, gars, and snapping turtles. No one in their right mind would go swimming in the Trinity, so all the natives can do is look, check the water level, or maybe drop a line in to see what manner of creature takes the bait. “Can we go now?” Marie asks.
“Hush. Gram wants to look,” Bobbie says.
“At what?” Dan asks.
A Word With the Author
- Did you always want to be an author?
A. I had no ambition while growing up other than to graduate from high school, then move as far away from my family as possible. Books were my refuge, but I did not have the self-confidence to imagine I might become an author. Still, I began writing short stories and poems early on. This was for my amusement, and I didn’t show them to anyone or keep any. Perhaps this explains why it took so long for me to publish my first novel!
- Q. Tell us about the publication of your first book.
A. As Good As Can Be is my first book. It began as a memoir about my life growing up in a dysfunctional military family. About half-way through, I realized that it wasn’t working. The non-fiction format meant documenting every move, every injury, every family fight. Writing in the first-person past tense was tedious.
So, I decided to start over, make it fictional, and use the third-person present tense. This gave the narrative an immediacy the memoir lacked. It also meant I could keep all the entertaining, exciting bits and ditch the boring, repetitive stuff. It didn’t take long to write the novel, but then the hard work of rewriting began. Six years later, it was ready for a professional editor then publication.
- Q. Besides yourself, who is your favorite author in the genre you write in?
A. As Good As Can Be is autobiographical fiction. My favorite author in that genre is Pat Conroy. His novel, The Great Santini, is also about a troubled military family. Memoirs I have enjoyed include Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt, Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg, and Goodbye Darkness, by William Manchester.
- Q. What's the best part of being an author? The worst?
A. The best part of being an author is getting positive feedback from readers. The worst part is trying to get your books noticed.
- Q. What are you working on now?
A. I’ve written a sequel to As Good As Can Be, which will be published next spring. The title is Knight’s Plutonian Shore.
Thank you for featuring As Good As Can Be on Hope, Dreams, Life. . . Love! If your readers would like to see an excerpt, they can go to https://www.williamaglass.com/copy-of-about-1
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Bill is a retired business executive now living in South Carolina with his wife, Bettina. She teaches high school German while Bill coaches soccer at a small college. Their three sons, Alex, Robert, and Gordon, have all graduated from college and moved away to pursue careers.
For recreation, Bettina and Bill enjoy hiking and camping out. Usually, they take their dog, Scout, along. When the weather permits, Bill commutes to work on his motorcycle.
William A. Glass will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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