Inside the Writer’s Notebook: Ríoghnach Robinson ’16


Courtesy of Ríoghnach’s Facebook.

It’s a writer! It’s a musician! It’s an economist! It’s Ríoghnach Robinson ’16! Robinson’s most recent accomplishment is publishing a book! It’s a young adult contemporary (YA) novel called Seven Ways We Lie, which is set for release on March 8, 2016 (it’s available for pre-order on Amazon here), and will be coming to a Barnes and Noble near you.

Jack of all trades, Robinson also released a full-length album on iTunes called Somebody Say Something in October, 2014. She’s also a member of a cappella groups Owl Creeks and Colla Voce. She’s also not an English or music major, but an economics major (insert joke about employment).

So, how does she do it?

“Time is an illusion,” she wrote in an email to the Thrill. “So is sleep.” She fits writing into moments when she can, from thumbing notes into her iPhone while in Peirce lines, to writing at 3 or 4 a.m.

Any time management expert (so, not college kids) might advise cutting back on writing to catch up on sillier things, like sleep and alimentary needs. But the artist is as the artist does, and the artist must make art. “Sometimes I go several days without writing, and it feels like, to be comically overdramatic, slow asphyxiation,” Robinson wrote. “The best days are when I can get a good solid block of several hours to sink into drafting properly.”

Robinson mostly focuses on nostalgia and memory in her writing, as well as the shiny double-sided coin of humor and death/fear/horror. As a YA writer (for readers age 14-18), Robinson toys with ideas of newness, youth, and discovery as well as a sense of losing this newfound stage of life.

“A lot of what you see in YA is love stories, but in that age range, nostalgia is another emotion that’s completely new,” Robinson wrote. “It’s this push and pull of being in that weird, interstitial period: sometimes you feel jaded and old, but you’ve still got to get a hall pass to go to the bathroom; you think of yourself as fully-formed, but brain psychology says otherwise; you have this newfound sense of a long personal history, and it’s all filled with childishness, and you can’t ever go back to any of it, because you’re suddenly expected to be A Mature Young Adult.” She attests later in high school she, too, felt this panicked sense of not wanting to abandon this newly formed self.

As a devout reader of Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, and Patrick Ness, she admires their combination of sobriety and whimsy. While she doesn’t actively try to emulate their style, she often thinks of how their work makes her feel while she writes. Their fantastical worlds have also captured mind for years. “Fantasy and sci-fi are my first loves,” she wrote.

So, what’s she working on now? Well, she’s got a play on the back-burner (oh yeah, she also won the James E. Michael Prize in Playwriting last year for her play Mourning Sickness). It’s a post-apocalyptic ditty called Downside Up and is about a subterranean society that kidnaps above-ground folk for Nefarious Purposes, as Robinson said. She has a slew of novels she’s working on, from contemporary to fantasy. “Writing for too long in one genre/voice can wear on me,” she wrote of keeping many projects in the air at once.

Of course, Robinson keeps what’s really important in perspective. “Did you know that the megalodon, a Cenozoic-era mega-shark dinosaur, had five rows of teeth, over 270 total?!” she wrote. “They could bite with enough force to crush a small car! Like, equivalently. They didn’t eat cars. Cars are not Cenozoic-era.”

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