Behind the Words: Joshua Scott Ricker

Posted by on Mar 21, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Joshua Scott RickerJoshua Scott Ricker’s “I’m an Asshole: Marathon Monday” is a bravely written essay that explores regret and fear on the sidelines of the Boston Marathon. He is the author of Hephaestus: A Modren Affair, which can be found on Amazon.

 

 

 

Julia: In “I’m an Asshole: Marathon Monday” you seamlessly shift the tone of your work from frivolity to contrition and concern, which I would suspect captures a slice of many experiences that day—normality followed by its complete toppling. What helped you to decide that this would be the focus of your piece on the Boston Marathon bombings?

Joshua: When we made those jokes to the runners about Copley being fine, that nothing had happened there, I think we had a naïve hope that the explosions weren’t bombs. I say naïve because we knew from the beginning that there were two explosions and electrical fires just didn’t seem like a good reason for two explosions. Through the story, I wanted to tell a personal account of how we used humor to forget the strong possibility of a terror attack and how, upon learning the truth, how that hope disappeared and we quickly became serious.

 

If you were to write about Marathon Monday again today, would there be any differences in the finished product? Did you have any experiences from the day of the bombings that didn’t get addressed in your essay?

Other than changing sentence structure and some of the words, I’d keep the majority of what I wrote. That being said, there were countless emotions running through myself and through those I watched the news with. Granted, we were a bit drunk by that point, but a lot of us were angry, sad, and terrified. Anger at whomever had done this. Sadness regarding those who were hurt. And terror that the two brothers were still out there and could attack again. A surge of patriotism hit as well. Only later did I remember that countless countries across the world deal with bombings every day and my patriotism changed from “let’s go get them!” to “is bombing another country going to stop this?” Of course, this was before we learned that the brothers acted by themselves.

 

Has this event created any lasting effects on how you approach writing?

Around the time I wrote this, I had come to the conclusion that I wanted to write with honesty. I didn’t want to make myself look like a hero because I’m not one. I’m a depressed, self-critical, opinionated, sometimes-asshole. Why pretend I’m someone a lot better than I truly am when people can relate to my actual thoughts and feelings and can’t relate to a fictional man who ran the rest of the marathon and single-handedly saved those hurt from the bombings while also catching the two brothers?

 

Your published novel, Hephaestus: A Modren Affair, is a retelling of a Greek myth. Is ancient myth a subject that you continue to explore in your writing, or is your current work in progress about something different?

Oh man, I honestly laughed a little when I read the title of that thing I wrote. Hephaestus was extremely experimental and serves as a mild embarrassment now. That being said, I still enjoy the concept if not the content. Ancient myth fascinates me. They have influenced so much of our culture through religion, literature, architecture, painting, etc. Each myth has so much subtlety packed within them and the fact that each has multiple versions allows anyone to make them their own. All of that being said, my current work does not include the Greeks although I’m sure they’ll reappear in some future work.

 

What are you reading now, and what book(s) could you read repeatedly? What authors have influenced you?

I am currently reading Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life which is a beautifully written novel about a woman who makes decisions which lead to her death. Each time she dies, the narrative restarts at a pivotal moment in her life that plays out differently, causing the woman’s life to continue on a different path.

I could read Infinite Jest by Wallace and The Myth of Sisyphus by Camus forever if I was forced. I tend to read Sisyphus every year but Infinite Jest is a commitment I don’t take on that often.

Honestly, the one writer who has influenced me the most is Tao Lin. Before I read his first book of poetry, my writing was severely academic, without any emotion, explaining everything rather than showing it, and a slave to form. Tao Lin showed me I could break rules and write the things I wanted to.

 

What is your general writing process like?

It changes daily. Usually I write a rough draft and then line-edit. That is a lot easier for shorter things but I’m finding it’s nearly impossible to hold every little feature of a novel in my thoughts at once. Currently, I am summarizing what I have for my current novel and reworking a majority of it. Ideas are everywhere but getting them into some sort of coherent form can be difficult.

 

What’s next for you?

Well, in regards to writing, I’m working on a novel about a relationship that is crippled by mental illness. When I’m don’t have the energy to write that, I write a short section of another novel I’m working on that documents the life of a young man through his relationships with women. I also have a short story I should do something with.

In regards to life, who knows?

 

Julia Blake lives outside of Washington, D.C. and is a contributing faculty member in a Master’s Mental Health Counseling program. In addition to a PhD in Counseling, she recently earned her MFA in Fiction at Spalding University. She has a story forthcoming in Soundings Review and has served as a student editor of The Louisville Review.

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