Inside the YA Debut of One of Today's Most Popular BookTubers

Posted by Marie on May 1, 2019
Christine Riccio
Christine Riccio—one of the most followed BookTubers (or YouTube book reviewers), with more than 400,000 subscribers and counting—has always dreamed of writing a novel of her very own. That dream came true with her YA contemporary debut, Again, but Better.

In it readers are introduced to Shane Primaveri, a young student who feels that she's failed her college experience and is eager for a redo. "She's two years into university, she barely ever leaves the dorm, she doesn't have any friends, and she hasn't dabbled in the romance department at all," says Riccio. "She's reached a point where she NEEDS to make a change. She's desperate for it. So Shane comes up with this plan to start college over with a clean slate, by signing up for a study-abroad program in London."

Riccio talked to Goodreads about how her own experiences in college influenced her debut, how writing a novel changed her perspective on books, and what her transformation from a YouTube influencer to a full-fledged author has been like.



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Goodreads: Tell us about the inspiration behind Again, but Better.

Christine Riccio: Growing up, all I heard about was how amazing college was, how much I was going to love it. I heard it over and over and over again, from every adult in my life. Then I finally got to college.

I'd never felt more hopelessly alone and out of place in my entire life.

I didn't have friends I clicked with, and I didn't try to find them. I didn't have the courage or the pre-prep to know how to navigate my way through a college environment. I couldn't find "the amazing" everyone talked about. For so long college was a place I dreaded being, but had to be.

Then after years of saying I never would (I was terrified), I decided to study abroad, and it changed everything. That's what inspired this book. I know so many young people who are going through what I went through, those first two and a half years of university.

I want to let them know what I wish someone had told me: You're not alone. That the life-changing, amazing college experience is out there for you. It's attainable, no matter how unattainable it may feel. You just have to reach out and take it.

GR: You started out as a BookTuber. Now you're a debut author! What was this transition like?

CR: The transition is weird!! So many people know me as a BookTuber, and I love YouTube! It's an amazing platform, and I'm so blessed and grateful to have found success there. But being an author is a career path I've always dreamed of pursuing!

I can't wait to continue down this road. It might take some time for people to see me and think "author" rather than "BookTuber," or "author/BookTuber" rather than just BookTuber. It's a rebrand of sorts, but I'm going to keep writing books and following my passion for storytelling, and hopefully that time will come.

GR: Let's talk about your main character, Shane. What are some of the biggest challenges facing her?

CR: Hmm… I’m such a weird stickler for even the mildest spoilers, so I'm going to be a little vague.

It sounds simple, but Shane's biggest, initial challenge is just to talk to new people! A huge goal of hers is to make real friends. The kind that last longer than a semester.

There's also a guy she likes and isn't sure how to go about pursuing, and a career goal she's not sure how to attain.


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GR: What did you find most relatable about Shane?

CR: LOL, well, I'm definitely biased as the author, but I find Shane's hyper honest stream-of-conscienceness style for her inner monologue to be super fun and relatable.

GR: What surprised you the most about Shane?

CR: The lengths that Shane went to lying to her parents in this book ended up being a surprise while I was writing. It was a necessary evil for what she was trying to accomplish, and it made for some fun drama!

GR: Can you give us any hints about the people Shane encounters in London?

CR: In London Shane lives in a five-person flat. She has two female roommates and then two male flatmates who live across the hall. They all share a kitchen together and end up bonding through various activities and trips around Europe!

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GR: If you could choose another country besides the U.K. for Shane to study abroad in, where would it be and why?

CR: Oh man. THIS IS SO HARD! I think I'd want her to study abroad in Italy because then I'd have a good excuse to plan a nice long trip there so I could get all the little details right!

GR: Do you experience books differently now that you've written one?

CR: Yes! There's definitely been a shift in the way I read and evaluate stories now that I've gone through the experience of writing one myself.

It’s like when you go to film school and learn all about the production process and work that goes into creating a movie. Postgraduation, you watch films and instead of just immersing yourself in the story, you're thinking to yourself: "OK, how did they shoot that? How long did it take to get this one shot? Oh man, I can't believe they got permission to shoot there! Dang, what kind of lens must they have been using here?"

It's like that, but with writing.

GR: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

CR: One of the questions I get all the time from aspiring authors in my YouTube comments is: "How do I know what story I should work on when I have so many different ideas?"

My advice is to write the story you have to write. It's the same sort of thing you hear people putting in their vows at weddings. With the right story, YOU JUST KNOW. You know because you need to get it down. Because you never want to give up on it. You find a way to make it work, because you need to tell it.

GR: What projects are you working on now?

CR: Next for me is a second novel! Of course, I'm still always making new bookish videos on my YouTube channel, but in the writing world, I'm working on an outline for a new contemporary novel and I'm really excited about it.

GR: Which books would you recommend for our YA readers?

CR: Oh my gosh, where do I begin? Some favorites that come to mind right now are the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, Geekerella by Ashley Poston, any Cassandra Clare book, I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson—if you haven't read the Harry Potter series, please drop everything and do so now—Dear Martin by Nic Stone, Skyward by Brandon Sanderson, all of Rainbow Rowell's books… I'm going to stop here, but I could go on and on! And on and on. And on.

GR: And finally, what's up next on your Want to Read shelf?

CR: Next up, I'm looking forward to devouring Christina Lauren's new book, The Unhoneymooners!



Christine Riccio's novel Again, but Better will be available on May 7. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf. Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews and get more great book recommendations.

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by SanaBanana (new)

SanaBanana SO PUMPED FOR THIS


message 2: by Heather (new)

Heather Moss Great cover art. I hope this novel has a much smaller probability of exclamation points than her interview answers do.


message 3: by Naomi (new)

Naomi Heather wrote: "Great cover art. I hope this novel has a much smaller probability of exclamation points than her interview answers do."

Have you seen her videos? She IS an exclamation point. Excited to see what she's written though. I'm intrigued to read about such an introverted character from someone who embodies such extroverted energy.


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