Interviewed by Sue Leonard.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 24th August
Beginner’s Pluck: Ross Skelton.
Skelton left school at15, to go into the RAF. It wasn’t his choice; his father had signed him up for 14 years. But he worked his ticket as a mechanic, and got out after four years. His uncle intervened, recommending a crammer where he took his O’Levels and A’Levels quickly.
“I went to Trinity, then to London, then back to Trinity again. I was a lecturer in logic, then I made the jump to psychoanalysis.”
Academic writing didn’t enthuse him, but after completing the Edinburgh International Encyclopaedia of Psychoanalysis in 2006, Skelton started writing creatively to cheer himself up. He wrote each morning, and then joined a creative writing class or two, finally taking the MPhil in Trinity.
“I took that in between giving lectures, four or five years ago. I wrote a novel, but was then told what I had written was a memoir. So I rewrote it taking out the made up stuff and extra characters. I loved the whole process.”
Who is Ross Skelton?
Date of birth: 1941 in Carrickfergus. County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Education: Belfast High School; Guildford Technical College in Surrey; Trinity College Dublin.
Family: Separated with a son and a daughter.
The Day Job: Psychoanalyst, and writer.
Interests: “I have a dovecote with pigeons. I love yoga and swimming. And I adore walking out to the low tide at Sandymount Strand.”
Favourite Writers: Patrick Hamilton. John McGahern.
Second Novel: “I have a novel done and I’m doing more memoir.”
Top Writing Tip: “Have no pretensions whatsoever about art. Just write. Write freely without fear.”
The Debut: Eden Halt. An Antrim Memoir. Lilliput: €15.75. Kindle: €6.29.
Skelton recounts his strange Northern Irish boyhood with great gentleness and humour. Living in a seaside shack with his mismatched parents, he shows the confusion of political differences in the area, and gives us a fine portrait of this tiny bungalow community. He then recounts his teenage experiences in the RAF.
The Verdict: An original and evocative memoir written with the greatest empathy.