Thursday, January 19, 2017

Q&A with Rion Amilcar Scott

Rion Amilcar Scott, photo by Rebecca Aranda Photography
Rion Amilcar Scott is the author of the new story collection Insurrections. His work has been published in a variety of publications, including The Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, and The Rumpus. He teaches English at Bowie State University in Maryland. 

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the fictional community of Cross River, Maryland, in which your stories are set?

A: Years before I wrote fiction seriously I composed a horrible short story about a slave revolt. The idea stuck with me when I started thinking about a canvas or backdrop for my fiction. Cross River is a nice little toy chest I can dip into and pull out dolls and action figures and stuffed animals and cars to play with. 

Q: How did you choose the book’s title, and what does it signify for you?

A: I originally had a different title that was, in retrospect, far less interesting and said much less. My editor suggested Insurrections from the last story in the book, "Three Insurrections." It felt appropriate as I imagine all of these characters as children of the insurrection that founded Cross River.  

Q: In addition to the setting of Cross River, what other common themes do you see running through the stories?

A: Fatherhood and masculinity were things that kept coming back as I worked through the book. There's also the struggle to realize whatever you are truly meant to be while carrying the weight of history.

Q: How did you select the order in which the stories would appear in the book?

A: The order is largely the suggestion of my editor, Lisa Williams. I envisioned an order that moved in a much more predictable way. Her rearrangement showed me the weakness of some of the stories that I later dropped. The story that is first, "Good Times," was always first and the story that comes last, "Three Insurrections," was always last.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: More Cross River stories. There are a lot of sides to the town that will take many books to truly explore. 

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Anything else is you need to know will be in the books. 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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