Rion Amilcar Scott’s work has been published in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, PANK, The Rumpus, Fiction International, The Washington City Paper, The Toast, Akashic Books, Melville House and Confrontation, among others. A story of his earned a place on the Wigleaf Top 50 (very short) Fictions of 2016 and 2013 lists, and one of his essays was listed as a notable in Best American Essays 2015. He was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland and earned an MFA from George Mason University where he won both the Mary Roberts Rinehart award and a Completion Fellowship. He is a Kimbilio fellow. His short story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky) was published in August 2016 and was chosen for The Rumpus’s Book Club. Wolf Tickets is forthcoming from Tiny Hardcore Press. Presently, he teaches English at Bowie State University.
What Muppet would you be for a children’s birthday party?
Animal, the ultimate chaos Muppet. It would give me a chance to rock out, setting off a chain reaction where all the kids turn into little Animals. Fun times, I think.
What was your process for building the universe that is Cross River, Maryland? How did you keep track of all of the in-universe elements of Cross River?
Cross River builds organically responding to whatever the characters need. It’s surprising when some small element of one story becomes a mainstay of the world. One of the things that I love is how sometimes when a story fails, it’s fine because I’ve often created an element that will return in other stories. Even though there are steady elements like the university, Freedman’s University and the North-South Parkway, I think of Cross River, MD like Homer Simpson’s Springfield, it is whatever the story needs it to be.
In terms of keeping track of elements, I just use my memory, which is horrible because I know I will come to a point in which I forget something important. I was just thinking the other day how the aforementioned North-South Parkway doesn’t make an appearance in Insurrections. I always imagine that I’ll create some sort of bible to refer back to and to keep elements straight, but I find that process so boring and then I go off and write a story or something.
Will you use Cross River in any future projects?
I’ll be writing about Cross River until I die or until my hands fall off. Whichever comes first.
How are you preparing for the day that your son beats you at something for the first time?
Ha! That’s not going to happen.
What music would you use to announce your arrival to any reading?
I would say “Mama Said Knock You Out,” but LL Cool J blocked me on Twitter because I made one too many “Accidental Racist” jokes.
What projects are you currently working on?
Writing some essays. A few stories from completing another collection, I think. But it can take a while to finish a story. The one I’m currently working on I’ve been re-writing and revising since 2007. Hope to start working on these interconnected novellas soon.
The one side of indie publishing no one talks about is the promotion aspect. It’s one of those things that I wish would be talked about (and taught) in creative writing programs. What advice would you have for any first-time authors about promoting their work?
I would tell folks to hire a publicist if they can afford it. Someone who knows various ins and outs, has contacts and who takes creative approaches to publicity. Whatever you do though, be proactive. Don’t wait on your press to do everything for you. Approach publicity as creatively as you approach your work.
Where do you see your writing in five years?
Still in Cross River.