— Copies of "Everyone Dies Alone" a collection of short stories by Craig native Ryan Mitchel Collins, are currently available at Downtown Books, or online through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
A down-on-his-luck gambler who receives a second chance. A hotel clerk faced with a late-night guest whose requests keep getting more bizarre. A family torn apart and brought back together only to have their future remain uncertain.
These characters and more are contained within the pages of “Everyone Dies Alone,” having sprung from the mind of writer Ryan Mitchel Collins. The former Craig resident signed copies of the book, a collection of nine short stories, Tuesday afternoon at Downtown Books.
The 26-year-old author said the tales he tells within the tome are woven together of numerous instances of people faced with “life or death situations” or a “transcendental or spiritual problem they need to overcome in their life.”
“They’re not really interconnected, but there’s a lot of different subjects within them, like contemporary political and economic situations,” Collins said. “It’s not as depressing as the title sounds.”
The title, incidentally, isn’t intended to reflect any kind of nihilism, but the harsh truth of the statement that touches all different types of people.
Collins spent his early life in Craig before moving to Denver as a teenager. He attended University of Northern Colorado, going on to graduate from Colorado State University in 2011 with a degree in creative writing.
“They were really tough on us,” he said of his teachers. “They told us we probably weren’t going to make it in this world.”
The references to Colorado locales are peppered throughout the book, including those of his old stomping grounds in the northwest corner of the state.
“It’s really just an honor to be here where I grew up and be in this position now,” he said. “I never thought I’d be doing this.”
Collins said he was inspired by two of the giants of 20th century literati, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, to assemble pieces of prose into a compendium before working on releasing a full novel, which he does have in mind for release later this year.
That book, currently going by the name “For the Sake of Tomorrow,” will have more in common with the styles of Jack Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson, Collins said.
“It’s kind of a wild story that happened in Fort Collins a few years ago about some kids who steal a bunch of raw opium,” he said of his next work. “It’s loosely based on this episode that happened and someone I actually knew and we had no idea how wild this character was, so when we found out eventually, it was just shocking.”
Collins will be traveling to Arizona and California later in the month to promote the book. He already has attended book-signing events with other authors where he was the youngest of the bunch by decades by his estimate.
But, writers who have been in the game for longer have a lot to teach him about promoting himself.
“It’s a process, and I look forward to learning more about it,” he said. “I’m doing a lot of odds and ends right now while I’m on tour. I’m also trying to find the right city to settle down. Right now this is my full-time thing because it takes a lot of energy.”
Downtown Books owner Terry Carwile said he was glad to host an up-and-coming writer.
“We’ve had signings for a lot of authors around here, and we really want to support local work and help them get the word out,” he said.
Carwile added that he was impressed with the amount of writing Collins already has been able to release at his age.
“I really hope he has some appeal to the younger readers around here, and I just hope he does well,” he said.
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.