Published October 1st 2018
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Alan Semrow here today to talk about his new release Ripe:Letters. Welcome, Alan.
Alan Semrow on Writing His Latest Book, Ripe: Letters
I started writing Ripe, my new collection of letters to men, at the end of the winter of 2018. The whole concept had been something I’d been playing with for some time, but, really, the impetus for these pieces came out of an opportunity that presented itself out of nowhere. I was approached by Christopher Heide at Chosen Magazine to contribute some stuff to the magazine. I’m rarely one to turn down such an offer, but I had been starting to think I was suffering from a bit of writer’s block.
See, my first book, Briefs, a short story collection had come out in 2016. At the time of its release, I felt pretty far removed from those stories—I was very ready to tell people that I wrote these stories when I was young, which is true, and that I was living a totally different life than I had been while writing Briefs.
After the release of the book, I really struggled with writing a follow-up (there were probably three or four books written in between Briefs and Ripe, but none of them sufficiently conveyed what I wanted to convey). Like I said, my life was totally different. I lived in a new, much bigger city. I’d made tons of new friends. I’d also had some very real experiences with a wide array of men. And I wanted to write about it—about coming of age in the city and the moments I shared with people who ultimately ended up shaping the last few years for me.
But how? Could I mask it all in a fictious veil? Could I straight up just write a memoir? How could I approach it in a way that felt new and different, but also allowed me to convey my point of view?
That’s where the opportunity at Chosen came into play. This was a nonfiction publication, so, yes, I’d have to write nonfiction. So, I wrote one piece called “Right Where You Left Me,” which is basically a celebration of these very specific moments I’d had over the course of two years. It went over well.
And then 40-plus letters followed VERY quickly. To me, the letters summarize these very particular experiences I’d had—they pay tribute to people that I’m ultimately glad to have spent that time with. And they do so in a way that’s positive and humorous and joyful and super sexy. I wanted to create something that was an ode to these situations I’d found myself in. But I also wanted to put out something that reflected the many ways my life had changed over really only a couple years.
I’m happy to say I’m proud with the end result. I think it does just what I wanted it to do. And I think whoever reads this will find themselves relating. It’s about the tender, sexy moments we spend with people. It’s about longing for human connection. It’s about allowing yourself to be affected (and vulnerable) when it feels right. It’s all what makes us human.
Funny, sexy, evocative, and brutally honest, Ripe is Alan Semrow’s ode to relationships with men. In this epistolary book, Semrow writes to the men who have impacted his outlook, reminded him of basic life lessons, surprised him in more ways than one, and left him reeling for days. Writing to one-night-flings, men he has never met, and men he’ll never stop running into, Semrow touches on some of the most constant human themes—love, lust, desire, and the yearning for connection. All the while, the book details a man’s journey navigating and blooming by way of the modern gay scene. Readers will find familiarity and hard truths in Semrow’s statements about the intricacy and explosiveness of the intimate moments we share.
About Alan Semrow
Alan Semrow’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has been featured in over 30 publications. Apart from writing fiction and nonfiction, he is a professional copywriter, a monthly contributor at Chosen Magazine, and a singer-songwriter. Previously, he was the Fiction Editor for Black Heart Magazine and a Guest Fiction Editor for the Summer Issue of Five Quarterly. Semrow’s debut short story collection, Briefs, was published in 2016. Ripe is his second book. Semrow lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
Semrow’s Blog: https://alansemrowriter.wordpress.com/