Interview with Ricky Lowes, First Place Winner of Q1 2024 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

Sunday, February 04, 2024
Ricky Lowes is a retired English teacher originally from London, UK. She now lives in Plymouth, UK, with her husband, sons and three dogs. She writes a variety of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and is currently working on a novel about refugees and their experiences. She is drawn to writing in order to make sense of life’s small and great injustices and tragedies, as well as to delight in the beauty and joy of the everyday.

--Interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Q1 2024 Creative Nonfiction essay competition! What inspired you to write your essay, “Recipe for Disaster?”

Ricky: Like so many others, I have felt anguished watching the situation in Gaza unfold. I am distraught to see the retribution being dealt out to Palestinian civilians for the acts of October 7th. I am appalled at the machinations of dark geopolitical forces over the years that brought about the situation today, and the lack of political will to halt the current genocide. I feel powerless to affect the situation, other than by sharing information, donating--and now by writing this piece.

WOW:  The way you structured the piece helped me as a reader to be willing to dive into a difficult and complex topic. Did it also help you write about it?

Ricky: Yes, it suddenly struck me as a deft way to deal with an incredibly distressing and contentious subject, which has become what they call a 'wicked problem.' It was either that, or write a 10 page essay--which still wouldn't capture it all.

WOW:  As a busy parent, how do you find time to write? What works best for you?

Ricky: My children have now grown up (17 and 23 years old) and are pretty independent. Though I have to admit to neglecting them at times when the creative urge takes me.

WOW: You mention in your bio that you’re currently working on a novel about refugees and their experiences. Can you tell us anything about it, and what your novel writing journey has been like so far?

Ricky: Again, I have chosen a complex and difficult subject, and I have approached it what I think is a novel (no pun intended!) way. My book is unusual – perhaps unique – in its structure. It is both the story of Mehdi, a gay Iranian refugee who becomes an interpreter, and of myriad other refugees and asylum seekers. As his story unfolds, it is interspersed with dialogues from his interpreting work, which illustrate the experiences of immigrants to the UK. In each phone call, he experiences a fragment of someone else’s life. The dialogues communicate in a very immediate way realities that few get to see, through the range of everyday events lived by asylum seekers and refugees.

The novel explores the themes of loss, of love and of redemption, showing the key role of supportive others when overcoming traumatic events. The story seeks to demythologise the ‘other’ without giving the characters an air of sanctity or victimization. At a time when migration is a contested and divisive issue, my book offers insights to counter the contemporary narrative of hostility to immigrants by providing a window into their experiences.

I wrote it fast, and am revising it more slowly. I am currently struggling with the structure, and counting on my beta readers to give me useful feedback to help me decide on its final shape.

WOW: Keep at it, it sounds like an interesting book! Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Ricky. Before you go, can you share a favorite writing tip or piece of advice?

Ricky: In terms of writing: write the truth (what you believe to be the truth). This is your gift to others. In terms of developing your writing: seek feedback and interpret it discerningly. And enter wonderful writing competitions, like WOW! 

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1 comments:

Renee Roberson said...

Ricky--"Recipe for Disaster" is such a moving and complex piece of work that I read it several times to make sure I took everything in. Thank you for sharing it with us and congratulations! Your novel also sounds like something I could benefit from reading, so I encourage you to keep at it!

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