On The Bookshelf - Debbie, the Bee Warrior Poet

On The Bookshelf - Debbie, the Bee Warrior Poet

Debbie is a local poet and biker who runs a supportive, local writers' group here at Coalville CAN every Monday evening. You can find the link at the bottom of this blog, and you can see more of the quite brilliant Bee Warrior Poet on her Facebook page.

1) When did you first start writing? (what motivated you to want to write and self-publish your book?) 

I started writing poetry when I was 9 years old. My teacher loved it so much I was asked to read it out in assembly. This was a huge achievement for me as a 9-year-old who couldn’t read until I was 8 years old.  

Decades later, I was diagnosed with Dyslexia, a little later with ADHD and ASD- Which explained a lot. Part of the dyslexia and ADHD is short term memory issues, I can never remember my poems by heart. Though, the plus side is when I couldn’t spell a word, I had to rewrite sentences to use another word instead. This has proved extremely helpful within my writing.  

Growing up I also told a lot of stories at night to help my little sister go to sleep, later I did the same for my own children. Either invented ones, or elaborated fairy tales taking them on a journey within the story. They always came back for more.  

My grandparents always read to us, they had most of the Ladybird Books, and because of them we knew most of the nursery rhymes before starting school, they lead us down the path of the Romanic Poets. I loved the singsong rhymes, then later the mental imagines I got from listening to Browning, Blake, Shelly, Byron, as well as Shakespeare. I am forever thankful for my grandparents who introduce me to poetry, also for encouraging my writing and storytelling.  

Although I never got great marks for my stories at school (due to spelling and grammatical errors) I often wrote my sister’s stories for her homework, she corrected my mistakes and got all A’s for them. I never stopped writing, poetry or short stories; however, I never took my writing seriously.  

Later, in my late 20’s I wrote skits and plays for the drama group I ran. They were received well within the community.  

My journey towards taking my poetry and story writing seriously began in 2006. I had been diagnosed with cancer, and while I was recovering from a major operation, lying in bed feeling a little sorry for myself, I thought now is the time to evaluate my life. I had to take sick leave from university, where I was in my 2nd year studying Broadcast Media, and Film & TV Studies. It was a eureka moment, I love writing, so why am I not doing that at uni? 

As soon as I was well enough to go back, I started 1st year Creative Writing, whilst continuing with the 2nd year Broadcast Media and Film & TV Studies. It also meant in my last year I could concentrate on my writing and poetry. I made the most of it, I tried everything, pushed myself out of my writing comfort zone. I was incredibly fortunate to have a lecturer who was a poet and prepared to shove me off the metaphorical cliff in order to expand my metaphorical horizon. I’ve never looked back.  

It should have been a whole new adventure once I gained my BA: work. It wasn’t, what with a surprise baby, then home educating my youngest two I was too exhausted to write. It was during the time I was home teaching I thought ‘I have to do something for me’. So back to uni it was to study part time MA in Creative Writing and back to my dear lecturer who was determined to push me further out of my comfort zone. This is where my Woman On a Motorbike Poetry Collection started to take shape and was developed.   

I completed my MA during lock down, through covid followed by suffering from long covid. However, it did give me the chance to complete the collection with over 60 poems.  

After lockdown I got involved with Coalville CAN’s International Women’s Day, reading a few of my poems, which were well received. Afterward the event I met up with the creators of Coalville CAN with the view to running creative writing workshops. This is where I met Mandy who has a self-publication business. So, all going well, I should have a book out next year! 
2) Tell us about your poetry. 

I write about my experiences, as well as what I’ve seen or heard. I have to be able to visualise it to write about it. Sometimes they are written in one sitting, sometimes they develop in what I call chewing the cud. Where they mill around in my head while I sound them out before I’ll sit down to write them.  

Most of my ideas come when I’m driving, however due to my short-term memory issues I have to repeat the lines over and over until it’s safe for me to write them down.  

For the Woman on a Motorbike collection, I had just started to learn how to ride and was on the journey to gaining my full motorbike license, and I was looking for a topic for my dissertation, so I married the two together. 

From the first day I went to the motorbike school I fell in love with riding, though it took me a while to get the hang of it. This passion naturally spilled over to my poetry. I wrote about everything motorbike, the frustrations, the sheer joy of riding, my fears, the male chauvinistic comments, as well as the attitudes I was faced with and how my soul feels while on the ride. And cake! You can’t have a good ride out without cake being involved.  
3) To be a good writer you have to be a reader – who are your favourite authors and why? 

This is so true, I have my own personal library, with my own stamp design too. I read anything and everything; be it interesting snippets on the internet, books, or magazines, quips on walls, public toilets, or posters. I just love to read. The topics I mostly read are history, science, art, and folklore. My most read genres are fantasy, and sci-fi. I don’t read a lot of poetry compared to the novels I’ve read. Though I have written poems in reply to a few poems I’ve read. 

My favourite authors are Sir Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Arthur C Clarke. They take you to worlds and places that will never exist, where you’re introduce you to people you’d meet in real life, watch their reactions to situations unfold before you in a world you can only dream of. I love their imagination, their use of words to describe a new world so full of wonders and magical explorations. I have to believe in the character too, the more real they are the better.  

4) What’s been the biggest challenge in getting your book onto the bookshelf for sale? 

Confidence in my work. This has been my biggest challenge. Every time I reread my work, I think they’re not ready to be out there. I’m constantly editing, sometimes a whole chunk, sometime just a word. You’ll rarely hear the same poem twice.  

5) What aspects of writing a book should you get help with? 

For me it must be someone who can proofread. Even the best writers make mistakes, this is especially true for those of us who are dyslexic. My biggest grammatical errors are the tenses, it’s a common dyslexic issue, I’ll have past, present and the future tense in one paragraph which doesn’t make for a good read. While my spellings have improved a hundred-fold since obtaining my BA and MA I still make common mistakes within my written work. A professional editor will point all these out to me. 

It is well known that a writer uses habitual words that are often repeated throughout their written work, my main one is absolutely, I know I’m doing it as I write it. Repetitive words do not make for easy reading. This is where a professional set of fresh eyes are needed to weed all these things out. Your reader needs a smooth passage, not jarring mistakes, or to be tripping up on repetitive words. 

Sometimes, you’ll need help with your content, it’s great to research, but you have to understand and be knowledgeable of your subject. This is where interviewing someone who has experienced or lived through it is a great resource.  
6) What advice would you give to any other aspiring author in our community? 

Find yourself a writing group that pushes you out of your comfort zone and join it. If they like everything you show them, leave! 

Read everything you can lay your hands on and make mental notes on how it is written. Why did they use that particular word? How does it make me feel, why did it make me feel that way? 

Don’t treat you writing as a hobby, treat it like it's your Job, or as a degree. Research your subject, and edit, edit and edit.  

Write something every day. Even if you don’t like what you have written it’s good for the writing muscle to get daily exercise.  

Also, I don’t publish any of my poetic works online as I submit my poetry to various literary magazines and journals. There are always rules where they are not to have been previously published, anywhere. Make sure you’re aware of the rules if submitting your work. 

7) Where can they go for additional support in writing / getting their book published? 

There are more avenues to publish work now we have the internet. However, my advice would be to research where your subject matter would fit best. Asking authors, or publishers is a good place to start, they can always direct you on to somewhere else. If you’re unable to do that, research their websites.  

8) How does an author go about finding an illustrator for their work (e.g; if it’s a book for children and/or illustrations are part of the book?) 

As of yet, I’ve not used an illustrator, my little sister does all my illustrations for me.  
9) Where will people be able to hear, or see your poems? 

I attend local Open Mic nights, so they might catch me at one of those. My poetry has been published in the WIMA monthly magazines over the years, and for three consecutive years my poetry has held a spot on the exhibition wall at the Women in Moto Exhibition. 

In the pipeline;  

A local tribute band that has asked me to support them on stage. 

I am in talks for another Woman On a Motorbike Poetry Exhibition at the Superbike Factory, in Castle Donnington. 

Curvy Riders have asked for a few selected poems for their monthly magazine.  

I am running writing workshops at Women in Moto Exhibition at Uttoxeter Racecourse this August, my poetry will be on show there too.  

In talks with a self-publisher for a publication of The Woman On Motorbike Poetry Collection. 

 So, watch out for these in future! 

10) Are you writing another and if so, what’s it about and when will it be due out? 

I always have several writing projects on the go. At the moment, I have two poetry collections, one is about hidden learning disabilities, the other is top secret.  

I am also trying my hand at writing a fantasy novel, I am hopeful it will be the longest written work I’ve succeeded in putting together, other than my dissertations.  


You can read more book blogs by clicking hereand you can view all of the books available for sale at Coalville CAN by clicking here. If you have a book project that you’d like help getting published – Coalville CAN has it’s own publishing team – Coalville CAN Community Publishing - you can learn more about how we can help you turn your words into a book for sale on Amazon and at Coalville CAN by clicking here.  

If this post has inspired you to start writing – you can join a supportive, local writers group, join Debbie who hosts a writing group - they meet at Coalville Can every Monday evening – here’s the link to the  'We Can Write' group at Coalville CAN 

You can learn all about Coalville CAN and how it supports the local community, local Makers and local Authors on their website by clicking here. 



Back to blog

Leave a comment