Ceri Shaw



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An Interview With Rhys Hughes - Part 3

user image 2009-02-13
By: Ceri Shaw
Posted in: Author Interviews

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In this the third and final part of Welsh author Rhys Hughes'' interview with Americymru he poses a number of ( rhetorical? ) questions to the reader. Feel free to respond to any or all of them in the comments box below.

This is part 3 of an in depth interview with Rhys Hughes , the Welsh Wizard of the Absurd. Rhys was born in Porthcawl, South Wales in 1966 and plans to write exactly 1000 stories in his lifetime ( see his blog here:- The Spoons That Are My Ears ). When this interview was originally published he had completed 468. Currently his total stands at 600+. Rhys can also be found on the web at:- The Rime of The Post Modern Mariner and on his Facebook page.


Dear Reader,

For the third and last part of my interview with the Americymru Network, I thought it might be nice to do something different. In other words for me to interview you.

So please find six questions below that you may (or may not) answer when you are ready…

1. In Swansea library I recently saw a book with the title "My Ancestor was a Coal Miner". My first thought was how strange it must be to have only one ancestor! I''m confident I''ve had thousands of them and I''m sure that most of them were never coal miners.

Having said that, my grandfather on my father''s side did work in a coal mine as an explosives expert. He kept boxes of gelignite under his bed. But what is the most unusual (or memorable) profession that any of your known ancestors ever had?

2. Authors go out of fashion, sometimes come back into fashion, often don''t. One of the finest and most sophisticated of the English Victorian novelists, George Meredith, is now mostly forgotten and it doesn''t seem likely he''ll ever be accorded the attention he deserves. Despite its rather terrible title, his early novel, "The Shaving of Shagpat", is an exquisite work of deep imagination and manages to combine highly lyrical prose with a humorous muscularity…

Another author with a sinking – perhaps already sunk – star is D.M. Thomas. In the 1980s he was the novelist of choice for all middle class liberal thirtysomethings who wanted to upgrade their emotions and their justifications to ''complex''. I still like D.M. Thomas. Clearly my finger isn''t anywhere near the pulse of modern literary trends. But what unfashionable authors (if any) do you still champion?

3. I have a large collection of books but it''s going down. The reason it''s going down is because every time I finish reading a book I give it away. My aim is to reduce my collection to a manageable size. Otherwise I''ll keep adding to it and will end up with more books than it''s possible for me to read in my entire lifetime!

That seems inefficient and wrong. To stop it happening I have banned myself from buying new books. I read what I already have on my shelves instead. Some of my books have been waiting to be read for thirty years. I don''t want to disappoint them forever! To shrink my collection further I have given away some books that I haven''t read, books I once felt I ought to read but knew I wouldn''t – in other words ''Duty'' books.

Probably the most significant Duty book for me is Robert Tressell''s "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists". I know it''s a very important novel, a book with a crucial message, but I just don''t want to read it. And I won''t. What books do you own that you know you''ll never read?

4. E-books don''t interest me. I just don''t enjoy reading fiction on a screen. Brief technical articles, yes, but entire novels, no. I can''t bring myself to even read short stories online. That''s why I rarely submit stories for online publication. The only novel I''ve ever read online was James Branch Cabell''s "The Rivet in Grandfather''s Neck" and that was only because I couldn''t find it as a proper book. I plodded through it unhappily even though it is witty, wise and dry. But what is your opinion on this issue? Do you regularly read e-books or not?

5. Writers are required to sit still indoors for long periods tapping away at keyboards or scratching away with pens – I use both methods, sometimes writing one story on a computer and a different story in a notebook at the same time. And yet an inactive life is one that rapidly drives me crazy. I need the Great Outdoors – or in the case of Wales, the Grey Outdoors!

The fact that writing is such a sedate occupation means I''m always fascinated by the attempts of certain authors to infuse physical vigour into their prose. It seems an impossible task, but Jack London and Steinbeck managed it successfully. So did Edward Abbey. But Hemingway and Kerouac didn''t. Just my own opinion. What writers, if any, have made you take to the hills or the lakes or the moors, etc?

6. When I was much younger I read "Lord Valentine''s Castle" by Robert Silverberg. It''s a fantasy novel set on an alien world and many standard fantasy things happen, but the main character isn''t an obvious hero in the conventional sense. He''s not a warrior or a wizard. He''s a juggler. From the descriptions in this book I taught myself to juggle. Balls, fruit, stones, even shoes – though I don''t recommend doing that. Juggling is a practical skill. It won''t help to mend a burst pipe or change the fuse in a plug, but it can break the ice at parties. Sometimes the crockery too. I''m delighted I can juggle and I owe it entirely to Silverberg. Has any work of fiction ever taught you a practical skill?

02/23/09 06:49:30PM @aquafortis:
Very inspired, to answer the questions and also turn them back onto your audience! I've answered them on my writing blog, here .
Dale Trefor Evans Horn
02/17/09 08:55:52PM @dale-trefor-evans-horn:
There is not enough room here to answer you questions.... too bad. It is like a debate with a politician..... one sided. Relatives say the homeland has had some rough weather (S. Wales, Tonrefail)Would like to answer you sometime.Dale (Trefor)
Ned Phillips-Jones
02/13/09 09:07:15PM @ned-phillips-jones:
The Hobbit caused me to seek out adventure as has Trout from the Hills, by Ian Niall which describes the authors obsession with the trout of welsh mountain lakes and streams. When re-reading this book I can't help but yearn for bad weather and exertion.
Marilyn Martin Mort
02/13/09 08:42:09PM @marilyn-martin-mort:
Now i see where I get by weird sense of humor..from my Welsh ancestors!! Marilyn Martin Mort
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