Bill Glose Interview

Gulf War veteran Bill Glose shows what happens when soldiers return in these short stories.

All The Ruined Men by Bill Glose. St. Martins Press. pp.288. $27.99.

Konstantin Rega: It must be kind of weird to be interviewed by Virginia Living since you used to be the book editor in the past.

Bill Glose: You know, Virginia Living is one of my favorite magazines. And I loved writing the book page, getting all the book, sitting down with the authors and hearing the stories behind the stories. It was a really enjoyable job.

What was the inspiration for this All The Ruined Men?

When I came home from my own war, I wrote poetry for a while. And that helped me deal with some of the issues. I also heard about the soaring suicide rates. You know, there was an article on CNN about 22 veterans a day were committing suicide. And that was just astonishing to me. 

So I wanted to create a fictional squad of soldiers that could show the general population what it’s like for soldiers when they come home and have to deal with everything they saw and did. And the amount of things that happened to this one squad is more than you’d expect to happen to a single squad. And then when they came home, I wanted to show that soldiers are individuals. And so each of them has a different difficulty to deal with. 

You know, there are a million ways to fall apart and a million ways to be put back together again. What I was aiming for is showing these ruined men after they came back trying to put their lives together, and each of them doing it in their own way.

Were there any key works that you drew for inspiration?

Well, I’ve read a lot of war fiction. And there were some memoirs that really stuck with me like Thank You for Your Service, which was made into a movie. The difference I see between our books is that I’m dealing more with the after-effects. 

As a combat veteran and a former Paratrooper, did you find that you were writing yourself into this a bit more?

There was a lot to process once I got home for the Gulf War, and so I had my anger issues and some difficulties blending back into civilian society. And so some of that comes out in these characters. And I always try to think what I would do in a situation. But I also find that each of these characters is a different individual. I’ll start off thinking what I would do, but then they take me in an entirely different course and show me what they would do. 

I made sure to show their family lives and their relationships with their wives and daughters and parents and to show that they are more than just the job they perform. 

I grew up in an Air Force family. My father was a Vietnam veteran and he flew F4 fighter bombers. It was really tough on the families at home, too. And so I made sure to show that aspect of it, that war does not just affect the soldiers, it affects everyone in their personal universe.

So with that, what is it that you want the reader to get out of your work?

What I want the reader to take away from this is that every soldier is different. You know, when you look at any large organization, it’s easy to think of a single person, a single soldier, a single police officer, a single teacher, a single anything, and think that all soldiers, police officers, or teachers are like that. And if you have a good experience or relationship with them, you think they’re all good. And then if it’s bad, you think they’re all bad. And that’s just not so. 

I think that’s not talked about enough and this book reveals or perhaps allows people to be more open about that. 

I’ve taught some classes to veterans and one of the things is that so many just keep things bottled inside. You know, my father was very stoic and did not share his stories. That was the example I tried to follow for so long. And it was just burning a hole in my stomach. So I started getting them out on the page and sharing what we witnessed and experienced is so much better than just bottling it up and pretending it didn’t happen.

Buy a copy at The Bookshop.

Konstantin Rega
A graduate of East Anglia’s renowned Creative Writing MA, Konstantin’s been published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Poetry Salzburg Review,, the Republic of Consciousness Prize (etc.). He contributes to Publisher Weekly and Treblezine.
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