The next in our series of Q&As with the authors of Crush, an anthology of stories about love, is Ryan Scott. Get to know Ryan and read an excerpt from his story ‘The Castle, the Tower and the Other Castle’.
Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? How did you come to writing?
Since childhood I’ve always enjoyed inventing characters and imagining worlds and stories for them to inhabit. My earliest attempt to write a novel was when I was twelve. It was a fantasy novel. Fortunately, the manuscript no longer survives. Though my tastes have markedly changed, fiction and telling stories is one pursuit I still find, despite its frustrations, satisfying.
How do you get your ideas? Is there anywhere particular you look for inspiration?
Ideas tend to arrive unexpectedly. It can be something I’ve seen or overheard. Train rides tend to be quite fruitful, the views, the snippets of conversation, the time with your own thoughts, which is probably why trains, or public transport of some kind, figure into a few of my stories.
What does your writing process look like? Does it change from story to story?
There’s a lot of redrafting. After the initial jolt of inspiration I work outwards and write and rewrite until I feel there’s something that works. Sometimes, the original seed is no longer there, or it has changed from the initial notes, though I suspect this is not so uncommon among writers.
How do you approach building the structure of a story? Do you like to play with form?
My initial stories were often confined to moments, so this approach tended to dictate the form. The actions, the recollections, the thoughts were all held in a thin slice of time. Perhaps, my style was informed by poetry which I still read and have made some attempts to write. In my late teens and early twenties, I was quite influenced by the Imagists and some of that focus on the image has carried over to my prose. Having said that, I try to stretch the time frame of my stories more, though not necessarily in a linear sense, and I’ve toyed, though not always successfully, with stories presented in different forms, such as just dialogue or as a monologue to an unseen audience.
Crush explores a variety of interpretations and experiences of romantic love. What aspects of love did you want to explore in your writing?
With regards to my story in Crush, my inspiration was the idea of love and the fantasies represented in some films. Obviously, I took those fantasies to ridiculous extremes. A second motivation was the love of place. I mocked certain clichés of Europe because they seem to me a shallow connection to the place. The story may not a ‘realistic’ portrayal, but the satire was motivated by love.
How have you tried to either embrace or push the boundaries of the romance genre in your writing?
I don’t think I’ve deliberately attempted either. When relationships appear, I certainly try to capture them in all their complexity, but this is true when writing about friendship, family and history as well as love. My only motivation is to write as truly as I can of the things I see and am inspired by.
Excerpt from ‘The Castle, the Tower and the Other Castle’ by Ryan Scott
‘Ah yes, this reminds me of the time I met my dear Mathilde,’ the man said with an accent less pronounced but no more curious than the barista’s.
‘Do I know you?’ Evan asked.
The old man looked around. Evan wasn’t sure what he would be able to see.
‘You are American, aren’t you?’ the man asked now in an accent which wouldn’t have been out of place on the BBC.
‘Foreign, at least? From abroad?’
‘So listen,’ he said brusquely, returning to his original accent. ‘This reminds me of how I met my dear Mathilde. We used to come walking here.’
‘Here? You met a woman in this place?’ Evan asked, looking at the various patrons shrouded in the smoke.
The old man rolled his dry eyes and headed through the smoke cloud, beckoning Evan to follow. Once they were outside, the old man said, ‘Would you prefer it if I met her here?’
To read the rest of ‘The Castle, the Tower and the Other Castle’ by Ryan Scott, pick up a copy of Crush, available from our online shop or from all good bookstores.