When you’re next browsing the Kenyon notable authors section in the bookstore make sure to look for Seven Ways We Lie, a young adult novel written by Ríoghnach Robinson ’16. The novel is slated for release in March 2016 by ABRAMS under the penname Riley Redgate.
Robinson has written many other works, including six more novels, an award-winning play, and enough original songs to fill not one, but two full-length albums. But this is her first to be published under the ABRAMS imprint Amulet.
She wrote six previous novels, three as part of National Novel Writing Month, also known as Nanowrimo. Her oeuvre include three sci-fi novels, one dystopian piece and two contemporary works. Robinson did not write her current novel as part of the annual project. The novel is also a contemporary piece, a sub genre of YA fiction that focuses on realistic settings and themes.
Her latest novel is the product of years of planning and dedication, months and months of revisions and just a hint of luck. After completing the first draft over winter break as a first year, Robinson reached out to several literary agents across the country hoping for a response.
Robinson calls herself a “slush-pile baby,” referring to the piles of manuscripts that authors submit to literary agencies every day. An economics major, Robinson had the skills needed to gain an understanding of the publishing industry that allowed her to reach her goal: “[Writing] is not just flouncing around from coffee shop to coffee shop,” she said. “There’s a business side that needs to be dealt with.” After a number of rejections, she received a sale bid from agent Caryn Wiseman, but the contract was contingent upon further revisions. For months, editor Anne Heltzel, from the ABRAMS imprint Amulet, worked alongside Robinson on revisions that would transform the original 67,000-word manuscript into its current polished form of 82,000 words.
While this is Robinson’s first published novel, it is not her first encounter with literary success. Her play Mourning Sickness, written in Playwright-in-Residence Wendy MacLeod’s playwriting class last year, received Kenyon’s James E. Michael Playwriting Award. This award is given annually to student playwrights who exhibit exceptional talent. “Ríoghnach is an authentically dark writer,” MacLeod said. “She tends to go to the emotional heart of things.”
Seven Ways We Lie tells the story of seven high school seniors, each embodying one of the seven deadly sins, and how their lives intersect. Robinson describes the novel as being “very character-driven.” Writers such as Neil Gaiman and Patrick Ness inspired the “dark lush prose” Robinson said was present in her work. Emma Brown ’17 has been friends with Robinson since their first rehearsal together as members of the a cappella group Colla Voce. Brown said Robinson “makes you feel like you’re all on the same level even though she’s going around dropping EPs and novels all over the place. Something that’s often said by our mutual friends: ‘Leave some talent for the rest of us.’”