Four on the Floor with Rio Youers


Four on the Floor with Rio Youers

I can’t say enough about Rio Youers or express what a thrill it is to feature him here. So read on—and order Halcyon already!

Rio Youers is the British Fantasy Award–nominated author of Old Man Scratch and Point Hollow. His short fiction has been published in many notable anthologies, and his novel Westlake Soul was nominated for Canada’s prestigious Sunburst Award.

He has been favorably reviewed in such venues as Publishers WeeklyBooklist, and The National Post.

The Forgotten Girl was released by Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press in June 2017 and was nominated for Best Crime Novel in the Arthur Ellis Award for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing.

Rio lives in southwestern Ontario with his wife, Emily, and their children, Lily and Charlie.

James Gallagher: Since reading your story “Old Man Scratch” a few years ago, I’ve been haunted by this line: “No, sir; he’s standing above me, ghost-like, blowing on my flickering eyes.” Is there a line you’re particularly proud of?

Rio Youers: It’s difficult to isolate one right now, or to choose a favorite, but I can say there are moments in every book and story—sentences or whole paragraphs, even single words—that I’m very proud of.

That said, it’s all subjective. What resonates with me may barely register with other readers. So you can’t pat yourself on the back too much. You just have to put your head down, follow the story, and do the best you can. 

James: What has jumping to a major publisher (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press) meant to your career? Has it in any way changed how you address your craft?

Rio: It certainly feels like a substantial step forward. On a personal level, being with a major house was always the goal, so the sense of achievement is incredibly rewarding.

Professionally, my novels are in more places, so my readership has expanded. They’re also being reviewed on bigger sites and in reputable trade publications. I even have a movie agent now. So yes, being with a major publisher has elevated my career.

But it hasn’t changed the way I address my craft. Not at all.

James: Are there ways in which editors have pushed you or helped your development as a writer?

Rio: Absolutely. For example, Jaime Levine acquired The Forgotten Girl for St. Martin’s Press. One telephone conversation with her regarding structure had me thinking about the book, and subsequently writing it, from a different—stronger—starting point. Will Anderson took the reins after Jaime left the company, and helped with verisimilitude and streamlining. Both editors were not just valuable in their contributions, but essential.

James: What’s something another writer does that leaves you in awe? What’s an aspect of your work that shows Rio Youers at his very best?

Rio: My favorite writers convey everything with fewer words. I love when a simple sentence leaves me breathless. Graham Greene was a master of economy. Reading his work has been a delight and an education. 

As for an aspect of my work that shows me at my best … well, I refer to what I said in question one: it’s all subjective, so I think I’ll leave that for the readers to decide.

For more information about Rio Youers, visit him on the web, check out his Twitter feed, or like him on Facebook.

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