Burgeoning author Richard Ruxton has written an engaging account of his childhood in Arklow, entitled ‘River Clarified Filtered Soft: An Irish tale of duration, divilment and grand craic’.
In it he draws on local characters and their idiosyncrasies to create a humorous story about the people and places around Arklow that coloured his young life.
Throughout, he paints a picture of times which, though simpler, were not without their own complications, tragedies and triumphs.
Richard emigrated to England 35 years ago where had a successful career in industrial engineering, college lecturing and consulting. The title of his book is a nod to his time spent working at a water treatment plant, of all things.
He and his wife now live in Dordogne, France, where Richard found his motivation to start writing.
“I had been dabbling in writing for years,” he began. “I had done a few creative writing courses. I always had the intention of trying it when I retired. It wasn’t until I had an accident three years ago that I really focused on it.
“I ended up in hospital for a couple of weeks and temporarily lost the use of my right arm. I was told by the doctor to do some exercises, so my son and wife brought me in some writing materials. That was the push I needed to start.
“I was an only child and reading always had a distinct attraction. The interest in reading eventually evolved into a passion for writing. I suppose there are only so many books you can read before you start to think, maybe I could do it?”
Richard describes the plot of his novel as a ‘straight line’, starting on his first day at a Protestant primary school and ending on his final day of a Christian brothers secondary school.
‘”I’m a Protestant but I was living in Arklow, a predominantly Catholic area. I went to a Protestant primary school, but, by a quirk of fate, was sent to the newly built Christian brothers secondary. The book is about that juxtaposition between the two cultures.
“Most Protestants in Arklow at the time were farmers living outside the town. We were one of maybe six long standing protestant families in Arklow. However, as I mention in the book, we were unusually poor protestants!
“I am a really big fan of Beckett and Joyce. I love absurdism. Looking at my own work there are definitely hints of them throughout.’
Asked if he had any tips for budding writer out there, Richard replied: “You have to put in the work. You have to start off with a sketch, then shade it in. That’s where a lot of people give up, the shading it. That’s not going to happen overnight. You have to graft.
“Anyone can do it, but you need a sensitivity to the topic you’re writing about. That comes from exposure to other people, to their ideas.
“I think writers need to be trained. I don’t think a degree in English will make you a writer. You need the tenderness to describe things and that comes from your experiences with others.”
Richard revealed that he has another book in the works – a fictionalised version of murders that happened in Arklow years ago. He thinks some people may be able to recognise the distorted details.
Richard’s book ‘River Clarified Filtered Soft’ is available in the Arklow Maritime Museum, Beat That Records on Arklow Main Street and Amazon.