Prompt to Publication | Del Richards

Today we are celebrating Del Richards. Since 12 Short Stories started in 2017 we’ve seen many of our writers go on to publish and accomplish great things with their writing. The Prompt to Publication emails are all about celebrating these writers and their wonderful stories.

I hope these interviews will help you and teach you how to use Deadlines for Writers to build your author platform.

Author feature: I’d like to introduce Del Richards.

Del completed the 12 Short Stories Challenge in 2019, 2020 and 2021. She is currently working on another 12.

How did you end up becoming a writer?

Del Richards: I’m not sure I ‘became’ a writer so much as I was born a ‘writer’. As an Enid Blyton-mad 8-year-old, I would devour Famous Five and Secret Seven books, re-reading them again and again. My best friend in school, frustrated that we read them faster than they could be published, suggested that I write a chapter of a story every day during first playtime, which she would read during the second playtime, and that is what I did. The fact that these stories bore a suspiciously similar plot line to the Enid Blyton books, will come as no surprise. My friend (Rosemary – who knows where she is now – probably a scientist or a professor, she was highly intelligent) was a ruthless critic and I went to great pains to impress her!

Has 12 Short Stories helped you as a writer?

Del Richards: I believe so. It gives me the drive to get it done. It’s all very well thinking up stories but unless someone kicks you up the backside to DO it, then imagination alone doesn’t accomplish anything. Thank you for that incentive.

What did you learn that you applied to your novel?

Del Richards: Mainly it made me take more notice of what I wrote and learned that just because I thought it was a cool idea didn’t mean that anyone else would. Learning to look at it with an outsider’s eyes was essential and the critiquing of my submissions on 12SS gave me a step up into knowing what to look for in my and others’ stories.

Tell us about your book and the experience of writing it?

The current book is an anthology of crime stories for which I was selected from a large number of submissions. It is called ‘Cast A Long Shadow’ (Honno Press). ‘Honno’ is the longest-running independent publisher of books by women currently operating in the UK. It is regarded as a unique publishing enterprise in many articles by esteemed journalists. Honno offers a paid opportunity for established and new writers by asking for submissions in a variety of genres or essays. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the previous crime anthology in 2010 too (Written in Blood – The Visitor).

My story in Cast A Long Shadow is called ‘Growing Pains’.

Do you enjoy writing? Does it energise you?

Yes, I enjoy writing, but it tends to wear me out rather than energising me! The words want to rush out of my head and it is difficult to capture them on the screen (or notebook, if I am writing somewhere where it is not practical to have a laptop computer with me). I love walking with the dogs and these treks through the forest are the conduit through which my latest plot move or new story flows. If I have a few miles to walk, I have been known to jot down a text on my phone, just some keywords to prevent the idea from vanishing.

Do your other creative pursuits feed your writing or vice versa?

I enjoy sketching, walking, wildlife and beautiful scenery but I don’t think it does anything for my writing, apart from opening my imagination to new ideas

Did the feedback and discipline from 12SS help at all?

Del Richards: Yes, the feedback was all-important. As is the discipline of deadline and topic (although I had some experience of that as a feature writer for newspapers and magazines).

What is your favourite story you wrote for 12SS?

Del Richards: I’ve enjoyed writing several 12SS  stories and I think I have two joint favourites – both from 2019 – the ‘Tag’ Prompt (Heart of Cold) and the ‘Workbench’ prompt (A Child’s Fears)

What was the hardest part/scene of your book to write?

In Growing Pains, the hardest part was writing as a 14-year-old girl with attitude. The balance of ‘cool’ language/ slang and making it flow without sounding like paying lip service to teenage years, was quite a challenge. I chopped and added words and even then the editor suggested changing some phrases that weren’t quite right.

In The Truth About Eggs, writing the rape scene was harrowing but harder still was getting into the mindset of two other characters who have an eating disorder and a mental health issue respectively – I cannot even begin to express my thanks to the people afflicted with such conditions who helped me.

In Blessed Are The Cracked – the story titled ‘The Perfect Wife’ was also difficult – portraying abuse without making it gratuitous is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to me, but my experiences in the Force certainly helped.

Please tell us about your publishing journey.

Having entered competitions (unsuccessfully at first!), gaining confidence and, I hope, a small degree of competence as a feature writer for a regional newspaper, I found the courage to go further. As a contributing author for a Canadian publisher who edited a series of embellished memoirs from police officers, I saw my first work on the bookshelf! Sadly, this publisher has now folded but it was a great boost for me. A further commissioned special interest book (Newfoundlands Today – Ringpress Books 1997) brought international success and is still highly regarded today. After the first Honno inclusion, I attempted a dark fiction collection of five novellas and two short stories (Blessed Are The Cracked – Cambria Books), with a follow-up full-length novel (The Truth About Eggs) three years later. Both these books are set in a fictitious community in my locality. A third book set in the same area is a Work in Progress but it appears to have veered off to another geographical area, so some juggling will need to be done. I should also mention ‘Broken Promises‘ (Writing My Heart Out publishing) which was an offshoot of your super Deadlines for Writers site. I really enjoyed writing my flash fiction piece (The Caterpillar Theory) for this and was quite knocked out by the quality of some of the other stories in it.

What didn’t make it into the book and why?

In Cast A Long Shadow (Growing Pains) the spec was for ‘up to 5000 words’ so, being a bit ‘wordy’ by nature (did you notice!) some additions to the plot had to go or it would have ended up as a 10k piece!

What do you like reading?

Crime and dark fiction are my favourites although I do occasionally read non-genre books. Romance is something I can never get into. Historical novels also leave me cold. My favourite authors are Stephen King (of course), Nicci French, Sophie Hannah and a recently discovered, Will Dean. Jodie Picoult is on my list too – I find great unintended humour in her books despite the seriousness of her topics.



My name is Delphine Richards (Del to most people!), married to Hedd – both of us retired now but I was a police officer for 13 yrs then retrained as a freelance journalist following medical retirement from the Police Force (following a complicated brain tumour – I am now fine!). My ‘writing day’ (to my shame) is usually a frenetic catch-up of binge writing when my intention to write 500 words a day has lapsed! We live on a small acreage with horses, dogs and up until recently, a very elderly pet sheep. Looking after these creatures and carrying out maintenance work is the excuse I use when my ‘daily’ writing has slipped off the timetable! Currently, my husband is undergoing treatment for advanced kidney cancer so trips out to various medical appointments, scans etc eat into the day – however, I find that taking the laptop and writing in the car while he is having his treatment, is a productive distraction.

Currently, I am on the editorial panel of a national, special interest magazine and this takes up time – not only by writing articles as suggested by the main editor but going through submissions from external writers is quite involved. Thankfully, as we are a team of 9, there is plenty of support.


Read an excerpt from Del‘s story.

Growing Pains.

Tia, the counsellor, makes me laugh sometimes. Not out-loud laughing because she doesn’t do it intentionally. But I have to bite the inside of my cheeks and look down like I’m thinking about stuff.

The thing with her is that she’s quite old – about forty I’d guess – and she tries to be cool when she’s talking to me in our sessions. She tries to use words like scrote and wanker when she wants to, like, connect with me! But whenever she says one of those words, her face looks like she’s tasted something nasty and her cheeks go a bit pink. That always cracks me up. One day, I’m hoping she’ll drop an F-bomb to impress me. That would be epic! But, I suppose she just can’t bring herself to say a word like that. Fair enough. There are words I can’t bring myself to say out loud either. Words like ‘killing’ and ‘death’- uh-uh, not a chance. Tia says I have to let my guilt go and move on, but it’s not happening any time soon. I just blank her out when she tells me that crap. Though, I guess I must have listened to her at some point because it pops into my mind occasionally. Tia says I’ve got nothing to feel guilty about but what does she know!

It was two days after Easter Monday that Kelly told me she was going to kill Robbie Harris. We were both at her house and we’d been trying out some cans of cider that her mum’s boyfriend had left there. It was minging stuff! But, the more we swigged at it, the better it got. I had never tried cider before. My parents are totally uncool – fourteen is too young for alcohol, blah, blah, yadda, blah.

Buy the book on Amazon

Cast a Long Shadow:

All original collection of the best of Welsh women’s crime short fiction from new and established voices…

A striking collection of the widest range of crime short stories from contemporary urban thriller to historical rural mystery and the speculative and uncanny.

Includes stories from Tiffany Murray – winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and an inaugural Hay Festival International Fellow; Eluned Gramich – winner of New Welsh Writing Award and shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year; Alison Layland – whose first thriller was a LoveReading Debut of the Month and Kittie Belltree – poet and Disability Arts Cymru Creative Word Award 2020 Winner. Plus a host of previously unpublished talent ripe for discovery.


Well done, Del!


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