When Inpress were asked to host a leg of Ryan Van Winkle's virtual book tour we were thrilled (because we love attention), and then confused (because what's a virtual book tour), and then thrilled again (because still, attention, and it turns out it's a really cool idea.) All we had to do to be part of this monumental project was to ask him some questions about his brilliant new book, The Good Dark, so we gladly accepted. It's ace, but there must have been a dark cloud hanging over the office that day because they're not particularly cheery questions... he said they were fun to answer though, and for that we are eternally grateful. Anyway, here's what we talked about...
I’ll get the nepotistic questions out of the way first! Inpress is a Sales & Marketing organisation specialising in the work of independent publishers, how important do you think being published by Penned in the Margins has been to how The Good Dark has turned out?
Working with Tom Chivers, the editor and publisher of Penned, certainly changed the book and made it better than the original manuscript I sent him. The most obvious way Tom affected the book was in getting me to change the title I has submitted the manuscript with. The original name for this collection was Red, Like Our Room Used to Feel which I was very loyal to.
I was resistant to changing the title to The Good Dark partly because it sounded too portentous, maybe too pretentious. But in changing the title, I had the opportunity to re-consider many of the poems with new eyes. The book didn’t need to be about us or our or even about how things used to be. It could be a lot broader, could take stock, could look forward a little. That realisation, affected what I chose to include and what I chose to leave out of the collection, and those decisions made the book what it is. I’m pleased with that and think Tom made an astute call and did it patiently. I think he saw something in the book that I hadn’t quite been able to focus on. It was good editing there and throughout the collection, so being with Penned was seriously important in making The Good Dark what it is.
You’re from New Haven, Connecticut. Is that as American as it sounds?
Yes. And I can get more American. I grew up in Stony Creek, Connecticut. A small shoreline community on Long Island sound. The kind of place you set The Babysitter’s Club.
This is your second collection, what will your tenth collection be about?
Aliens and hoverboards. It might take a while.
What’s your least favourite poem in the book?
Ouch, hard question. I honestly don’t think I have one (yet). Tom & I were pretty good about cutting anything we were unsure about and were doing so, shaping the collection, right to the end.
Interestingly, there are poems I wish could have been included in this book. For one reason or another a lot of poems I personally like didn’t get into the collection. For instance, I’ll always wonder if I should have included poems from the Red Room performance like The Ocean I Call Mine or You Wanted to See the Lighthouse and people seem to like this one poem called Castle all of which were once included in the typescript but got removed because they didn’t sit right. Basically, I’ve got a collection of b-sides buried on my hard drive.
The Guardian described your Edinburgh Fringe show as “intimate and haunting.” Are you particularly intimate and haunting in your day to day life?
Well, if the Guardian says it…
You can buy The Good Dark here and you can catch Ryan on tour at any one of these events:
- 1 June, London, Waterstones Piccadilly, 7pm
w/ Naomi Booth
- 2 June, Cardiff, 7pm
w/ Nia Davies & special surprise guests!!!
- 3 June, Glasgow, Tell it slant, 7pm
- 4 June, Edinburgh, Blackwell Bookshop Edinburgh, South Bridge, 6.30pm
w/ Matthew Siegel