Meeting Debs Riccio – Poetry Category Finalist

debs riccio stories for homes

This week I’m welcoming Debs Riccio to the Thursday Throng hot seat. Debs is our second Poetry category finalist in the Hysteria Writing Competition.

debs riccioWhat is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?

I had a massive crush on Des O’Connor when I was young (VERY young) and when he said goodbye at the end of his show on a Sunday night I’d creep towards the telly and kiss the screen when nobody was looking. And sometimes I’d get the tiniest of electric shocks to my puckered lips, convinced that this was what true love felt like. I cringe about it now, but back then Des was The Man.

What did the best review you ever had say about your work?

When I self-published my teenage books on Amazon, I was of course buoyed by the reviews from real friends, writer friends and friends of friends who said nice things about them, but the real surprise review – and therefore, for me, the best – came from a girl I had absolutely no connection with however tenuous.  She wrote that she’d read the book (‘Re:Becca’), loved the characters and thought the ending was lovely; she said she hoped I’d write a follow-up.  Simple words from a stranger, but they meant the world because she was the person I’d always dreamed about reading my books – the Real Reader.

What did the worst review you ever had say about your book?

Again, when I had my books on Amazon, the contemporary women’s story that I wrote, ‘Reconstructing Jennifer’  received some nice reviews from friends/friends of friends etc but I remember being thoroughly shaken by the lengthy review I’d received from another Real Reader. Considering the fact this book was a predominately fictionalised memoir featuring a very traumatic time in my life  – not that the RR knew how factual the story truly  was – it was slated as having the drippiest main character (essentially ME) who had no spark of gumption and let her adulterous husband walk all over her and she got everything she deserved.  *gulp* Unbeknownst to them, this person was talking about me and it felt like a proper slap round the face.

How did you choose a title for your book?

I think titles are hugely important. For me, the title comes before the cover.  If a cover is pink and frosted with cupcakes on it, but bears the title “Slaughter the Pretties ” then I’ll pick it up.  Contrariwise, if it was titled “Meet me in the Sugarpuff Cafe” then it’s staying on the shelf. The first book I wrote (‘Reconstructing Jennifer’ – see above) was originally titled ‘LABRATS’ which was a nod to how the main character – which we all know now was me – felt during the time of her husband’s infidelity – trapped like a rat in a lab.  But by the time I was ready to place it on Amazon, there’d been a lame TV sitcom by the same name and I didn’t want it to be associated with that and put anyone off – so I renamed it.  I hoped the title would be intriguing enough for people to want to dip in and read about Jennifer, find out why she needed reconstructing, indeed, what had caused her deconstruction in the first place. The teenage/YA books I wrote I also renamed as they’d done the Literary Agent circuits and all eventually come back with a “Not for us, thanks” so I  re-christened them as they entered the self-pubbed world.  ‘Double History’ became ‘Dead Good’ and ‘Grounded’ became ‘Re:Becca’.

What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?

An ongoing challenge, of course, but it remains the same: the isolation.  It’s difficult to compare writing with any other thing: fishing is a solitary activity and yet at the end of the day, there’s a mate you can chat to about the trials you faced, compare near misses and the joy of the catch – which doesn’t take nearly a year to achieve. Perhaps painting and sculpting come close to the writer’s isolation but even with these, there is a tangible piece of work in progress that is evident to anyone in the same room, I feel way too pushy asking if I can foist a new chapter on anyone – even my husband, so I sometimes feel that I’m just mucking about with words and not achieving much because I don’t have anything to ‘show’.

Are you jealous of other writers?

God, yes. So much. Actually, even seeing that question relieves some of the burden of carrying that jealousy around for so long. It’s a constant torment, especially if the writer is a friend and we’ve travelled together on the same journey – from aspiring, to agented, to publication – the little green gremlin of envy begins his manic dance and I am overcome. ‘Why couldn’t that have been me?’  ‘It’s not fair they got there and I didn’t’ ‘How come it always happens to others?’ ‘Always the bridesmaid…’ etc.  On a couple of occasions, I’ve actually stopped writing when I’ve heard somebody else’s good news – once for nearly a year.   I’ve ‘liked’ Facebook statuses and congratulated friends on their successes, at the same time as snarling and crying over the keyboard in a nasty bubbling green stew.

What is the book that you wish you had written?

This is not to say that this is my favourite read of all time, but it’s the one I go back to time and again and re-read sections. It makes me happy. It’s an inspiration: ‘High Fidelity’ by Nick Hornby.  I saw the film first, but (as is usually the case) the book is SO much better with scenes that weren’t included in the film.  I think it’s the awkwardness, intimacies and understated humour of small-town characters that does it for me: I want to be able to achieve that.

If you could commit the perfect murder where would you hide the body?

Somewhere in Chapter 12 😉


stories for homesWHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT DEBs and her book?

You can find Debs in the Stories for Homes anthology which supports the homeless charity, Shelter.

You can also catch up with Debs on her blog here:



These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.

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