Monday, October 21, 2019

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 The World Doesn't Require You. He also has written the story collection Insurrections, and his work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Kenyon Review and PANK. He teaches creative writing at the University of Maryland.

Q: In our previous interview, you said of your fictional community of Cross River, Maryland, "There are a lot of sides to the town that will take many books to truly explore." Did you already have some of the ideas in mind for the new collection before the first book was published?

A: I had entire stories nearly complete when I finished Insurrections. I thought those stories were good, or had potential, but something was missing from them. It took me some time to grow as a writer before I could finish them.

Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: The phrase has been a line I've been thinking about for a while now. I think it's a pretty harsh reality that's ultimately freeing. None of us are so important or essential that we can act any way we please.

With that said, I would like readers to come to their own relationship between themselves, the title and the book.

Q: In an NPR review of the book, Michael Schaub writes, "The book is less a collection of short stories than it is an ethereal atlas of a world that's both wholly original and disturbingly familiar..." What do you think of that description?

A: That's a great description. For a little while I toyed with the idea of removing the subtitle "stories" as one of my editors had said that the book felt like something other than a short story collection. But then I didn't want to be one of those people who pretends like he's better than the short story. 

Q: Are there other fictional towns that you particularly admire?

A: I'd spend time in Winesburg, Ohio if I could. Really though, I want to go to Homer Simpson's Springfield. I admire the durability of that town and how changeable it is depending on the needs of each individual episode it appears. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: My stories take place in the wake of a successful slave revolt in America. I'm working on books that continue to explore the aftermath of the Great Insurrection and maybe we'll even get a peek at the insurrection itself. 

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I'll be writing about Cross River as long as I can. There is a lot I couldn't fit into this book or the last one, both individual stories and elements. It keeps evolving as well. I'm looking forward to showing more of the town.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Rion Amilcar Scott.

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