An Interview with Riss M. Neilson, Author of Deep in Providence

May 11, 2022 | 12:00 PM

An Interview with Riss M. Neilson, Author of Deep in Providence

By Team Fierce Reads
Deep in Providence is a spellbinding contemporary fantasy that follows three best friends who turn to magic when they're haunted by a friend's death. We are obsessed with this book and know you'll love it too, but if you need some extra incentive to pick this one up, be sure to check out this interview with the author. What makes Miliani, Inez, and Natalie fierce? In their individual lives, they’re responsible for their parents and their siblings, they make hard decisions and have to grow up fast because of their circumstances. The strength they have to do all of this makes them fierce to me. As a group, they learn to use magic so they can have the power to go after what they want, and all of their desires to change their circumstances suddenly feel more attainable. They’re passionate and brave, they take risks. I call them blood pact besties, and they’re there for each other no matter what. If you'd met Miliani, Inez, and Natalie as a teen, would you have been friends with them? This question made me smile because even though this is a work of fiction the girls in it feel like living, breathing beings to me. They are versions of me and my best friends when we were teenagers. We took the bus to botanicas after school, we asked our crushes for locks of their hair so we could do truth spells on them. I would definitely be friends with Miliani, Natalie, and Inez if I met them as a teen. What's one fun fact most people don't know about you? When I was a kid, one of my aunties would pull out the Ouija board and call to spirits. She was very convincing and very terrifying, but it was exhilarating. I carried that feeling with me, so when I got to high school and my friends wanted to learn and do séances with me I was excited. We really thought we were doing something calling to spirits after school with our candles, and screaming whenever the lights flickered. When I’d get home, I’d spread lemon and herb protection paste on my doors and windowsills so the spirits wouldn’t want to stay with me. My mom had her suspicions, but I’m pretty sure she thought we were just being silly. We were, and I like to think it was harmless. Still, I 10/10 don’t recommend buying oils in jars with strange symbols on them to use during séances when you have no idea what you’re doing. What's your favorite part of being an author? One of my favorite parts of being an author is when readers tell me they see themselves in the pages of my book. It makes my heart extra happy when those comments come from other marginalized people. When I was younger, I hoped to see myself in books and I’d truly feel seen whenever I would. I wish I felt like that more often as a teen, but I still get overjoyed seeing myself in the pages of books as the published stories of marginalized people grow. So I’m honored and honestly emotional being able to have even a small part in making others feel seen too. What's the most challenging part of being an author? For me, one of the most challenging parts of being an author is letting go of the story. There’s always something else, one more thing I want to work on. I know I’m not alone in this feeling, which helps, but calling it done on DEEP was very hard. It’s an intricate story, and I really wanted to get it right for these girls who grew up like me and my friends but have more power to change their lives than we did. I’ve been trying to make peace with the fact that it’s a finished story and there’s not much I can do to make sure it does well or it's received well in the world now. I’m a mom, and in this way, Deep in Providence really does feel like a book baby. What 3 words would you use to describe Deep in Providence? Love. Desire. Sorrow. ABOUT THE BOOK A spellbinding young adult fantasy debut following three best friends who turn to magic when they're haunted by a friend's death... and perhaps her spirit, combining the atmospheric thrills of The Hazel Wood with the nuanced realism of Erika L. Sanchez. For best friends Miliani, Inez, Natalie and Jasmine, Providence, Rhode Island has a magic of its own. From the bodegas and late-night food trucks on Broad Street to The Hill that watches over the city, every corner of Providence glows with memories of them practicing spells, mixing up potions and doing séances with the help of the magic Miliani’s Filipino grandfather taught her. But when Jasmine is killed by a drunk driver, the world they have always known is left haunted by grief...and Jasmine's lingering spirit. Determined to bring her back, the surviving friends band together, testing the limits of their magic and everything they know about life, death, and each other. And as their plan to resurrect Jasmine grows darker and more demanding than they imagined, their separate lives begin to splinter the bonds they depend on, revealing buried secrets that threaten the people they care about most. Miliani, Inez and Natalie will have to rely on more than just their mystical abilities to find the light. Thrilling and absorbing, Deep in Providence is a story of profound yearning, and what happens when three teen girls are finally given the power to go after what they want.

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