Meet Riss Neilson, Author of Deep in Providence

The Rhode Island College grad on the joy of getting published, making writing personal, and what’s ahead


Congratulations on the publication of Deep in Providence. How does it feel to have your first book out there in the world? 

Thank you so much. It’s honestly still a shock. Three years ago I didn’t know anything about publishing and now there’s a book out there with my name on it. Most days, I forget that it’s published until someone tags me in a post or I see it in a bookstore. People are reading my story. It’s incredible that my words will live on forever.


The story about four friends rooted in the city seems very personal. What inspired you to write this tale?

It is personal. One of the things that inspired me was doing “magic” with my friends in high school. We would go to the botanica after school to get oils and candles and we’d do spells in my auntie’s living room. We even tried to call to the spirits. It’s also inspired by the fact that we lost a friend from our group to an asthma attack in 11th grade.


The book definitely has a lot of buzz behind it. How have readers responded? 

Readers are responding really well. I receive messages from people who tell me how they see themselves while reading it and how much it made them cry. Those are the best messages. I always look for myself in books, so I’m happy to play a small part in that for others. It feels like there’s a lot of genuine love in messages I receive and even in the reviews that I read. Deep in Providence deals with some heavy-hitting topics, and I’m happy it’s finding readers who need it. 


What advice do you have for up and coming authors? 

Believe it can happen for you. I used to write fanfiction in my room at night and never thought about publishing my books. I never thought it was a possibility, until a few years ago when a mentor suggested I take my writing more seriously. Aside from believing in yourself, keep putting down the words. Don’t aim for perfection because no book will ever be 100 percent perfect and that’s just putting pressure on yourself. You need to love what you’re writing and it should shine through. It’s tough to break into publishing, but there is no time or age limit. Just keep trying if it’s something you really want!


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