After four decades of teaching at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan, Barry Knister retired in 2008. That year, he published his second novel, Just Bill (Gold Mountain Press). His first, a gritty thriller about Vietnam Vets titled The Dating Service had been published by Berkley.
Inspired by a friend and his rescue dog--pictured on the book’s cover--Just Bill takes readers on a journey of love, loss and recovery. The story of Bob Nelson and Shadow led Knister to imagine a set of other, fictional relationships between dogs and owners. In the process, he became keenly aware of how important their dogs were to his neighbors. The strength of these relationships, and the history of Bob and Shadow worked to shape the novel.
Knister spends winters in a Florida golf community, and used a similar setting for most of the book. Like himself, he saw Bill and his master as snowbirds, and provided them with a second, summer home on a Michigan lake. The whole process of writing and observing others convinced him life was much better when lived with a dog. The summer after finishing the first draft of Just Bill, he and his wife adopted Chelsea, a rescued five-year-old border collie.
Knister served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Micronesia. He is the former secretary of Detroit Working Writers, and the former director of the Cranbrook Writers Conference. He has published travel and humor in local markets, and writes a blog and column for the Naples (Florida) Daily News. Currently, he is at work on a novel about drugs being secretly tested on the population of a remote Pacific island.
His second novel Just Bill was first published in a slightly different form by Gold Mountain Press. It is available through the author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.