Rising author Richard Ruxton wrote a gripping account of his childhood in Arklow, titled “River Clarified Filtered Soft: An Irish tale of duration, divilment and grand craic”.
n he draws inspiration from local characters and their idiosyncrasies to create a humorous story about the people and places around Arklow that colored his young life.
Throughout, he paints a picture of times that, while simpler, were not without complications, tragedies and triumphs.
Richard emigrated to England 35 years ago, where he had a distinguished career in industrial engineering, university teaching and consultancy. The title of his book is a nod to his time working at a sewage treatment plant.
He and his wife now live in Dordogne, France, where Richard found his motivation to start writing.
“I’ve been into writing for years,” he began. “I had taken a few courses in creative writing. I always intended to try 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 the hospital for a few weeks and temporarily lost the use of my right arm. The doctor told me to do some exercises, so my son and wife brought me exercise equipment. It was the nudge I needed to get started.
“I was an only child and reading always had a special appeal. The interest in reading eventually turned into a passion for writing. I guess there are only a certain number of books you can read before you start thinking, maybe I could do that?”
Richard describes the plot of his novel as a “straight line”, beginning on the first day at a Protestant primary school and ending on the last day at a Christian Brethren secondary school.
“I am Protestant but I used to live in Arklow, a predominantly Catholic area. I went to a Protestant primary school, but, by a quirk of fate, I was sent to the newly built Christian Brothers Secondary. The book talks about this juxtaposition between the two cultures.
“Most of the Protestants in Arklow at the time were farmers living outside the town. We were perhaps one of six long-standing Protestant families in Arklow. However, as I mention in the book, we were exceptionally poor Protestants!
“I’m a really big fan of Beckett and Joyce. I love the absurd. Looking at my own work, there are definitely hints of them throughout.
When asked if he had any advice for an aspiring writer, Richard replied, “You have to get down to business. You need to start with a sketch, then shade it. This is where a lot of people give up, shading. It won’t happen overnight. You have to graft.
“Anyone can do it, but you have to be sensitive to the subject you’re writing about. It comes from exposure to other people, to their ideas.
“I think writers need to be trained. I don’t think a degree in English makes you a writer. You need tenderness to describe things and that comes from your experiences with others.
Richard has revealed he has another book in the works – a fictional version of the murders that happened in Arklow years ago. He thinks some people may be able to recognize distorted details.
Richard’s book ‘River Clarified Filtered Soft’ is available at Arklow Maritime Museum, Beat That Records on Arklow Main Street and Amazon.