was born in Scotland in 1975. He lived and worked as an English teacher
in Rwanda, Lithuania, and China, before finally settling in Australia.
His stories have appeared in various literary magazines and anthologies
including Best Australian Stories 2007, Sleepers Almanac, Meanjin, Wet Ink and Westerly. He has had two short story collections published by Ginninderra Press, Six Tenses and A Famine in Newcastle,
the latter of which was shortlisted for the 2007 Queensland Premier’s
Literary Awards. He lives in Newcastle, New South Wales with his wife
and two daughters.
with Ryan O'Neill
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
wrote the stories on and off over a number of years, and in a number of
different countries, so it's difficult to remember exactly how long it
took. Usually, a story will take me three weeks to a month to
write, or less if I'm lucky. I think the six stories in this
collection probably took about four or five months.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
like to say that I carefully considered the overall theme of the
collection, but the truth is that my selection process was much more
random. I just thought that it might be interesting to have a
couple of stories from each of the different places I had lived and
worked (Africa, Scotland and Australia) and to mix first and third
person narration. Personally, I love short story collections that
aren't restricted to one location or one point of view, or one
theme. One of the things I love most about writing and reading
short stories is how different each one can be. And so I tried to
have quite different stories in my collection.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
RON: The King died and then the Queen died of grief.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
RON: No. If I had a reader in mind when I write, I'd be too crippled by self-doubt to get past the first line.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
RO: What parts did you think didn't work?
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
To be honest, I've never thought about it.
What are you working on now?
At the moment I'm working on another collection. I've been writing
short stories seriously for nearly a decade now, so I have quite a few
to draw from. I'm very much enjoying experimenting with form, and
trying to explore the limits of what a short story can be, in the same
way that JG Ballard did in many of his short stories, such as The
Index and Answers to a Questionnaire.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
RO: Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov, a fascinating and heartbreaking collection of stories set in the Russian Gulags. What Came Between by Patrick Cullen, a brilliant and moving collection of linked storie by one of Australia's most exciting new writers. Legends of a Suicide by David Vann, a beautifully written meditation on a father's death and a son's life.