Debra Di Blasi is an award-wining writer, visual artist, independent scholar, and international lecturer. She is author of six books and hundreds of short works, with fiction published in leading anthologies of innovative writing, and in prominent journals and reviews. Her writing has been adapted to film, radio, theatre, and audio CD in the US and abroad. As a former art critic and founding publisher of Jaded Ibis Productions and Jaded Ibis Press, she became a noted speaker on the intersection of literature, publishing and technology and continues to write as an independent scholar on topics related to the aesthetics of narrative as it intersects with technology. Contact Debra.
Debra Di Blasi was born Debra Pickens in Kirksville, Missouri, and raised on a cattle farm in Unionville, Missouri. She credits a childhood organized around crop growing seasons, microbiomes like ponds and woods, and witnessing the life-to-death cycles of wild and domestic animals, with her long-time interest in Systems Theory, especially as it relates to the structure of literary and art narratives.
The third of five children, she was deeply influenced by the Vietnam War; the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy; and Watergate. Her high school career goal was to become a war correspondent.
She focused most of her high school energies on sports and writing. Her senior year, she was captain of her basketball team, selected to the All-District Team, and voted MVP. She won many gold medals in track and field, in the 220 and as legman for the 880 relay. She scored seventeen home runs during her last softball season. She was editor and designer of her senior yearbook, and sports columnist for the Unionville Republican and school newspaper.
After Saigon fell, Debra studied journalism at the renowned University of Missouri-Columbia "J-School" with the intent of becoming an investigative journalist but became sidetracked by the study of creative writing, especially poetry. Unable to commit to a major, she left after three and a half years and moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where she worked in low level jobs for the next four years. She returned to college at Kansas City Art Institute, focusing primarily in painting, but also exploring what was then new video technologies. While still a student, she began writing art reviews for The New Art Examiner, an art magazine based in Chicago.
She married Carlos Di Blasi in the summer before her third (and final years at the Institute. They separated after ten months. The marriage figures prominently in the award-winning short story, "An Interview With My Husband." After graduation, Debra moved to Europe, where she lived for just over six months. Her experiences, particularly of living in the rural Florence suburb of Bagno á Ripoli, influenced her novel, What the Body Requires.
After returning the United States, she moved to San Francisco where she worked in positions of increasingly reponsibility, from executive assistant to advertising manager at Robert Half of Northern California, to advertising production manager at the groundbreaking tech magazine MacWeek. She published her first short fiction in Transfer while studying part-time in the Masters Creative Writing program at San Francisco State. Two weeks after the 1989 earthquake, she left San Francisco and returned to Kansas City. She worked for a non-profit arts organization, a telecommunications company, and eventually as a learning specialist and creative writing-literature teacher at Kansas City Art Institute. She specialized in teaching experimental narrative forms, including hyperfiction and mixed media writing.
Her first book, Drought, was published by New Directions, in 1997, quickly followed by Prayers of an Accidental Nature (Coffee House Press). Since then, she has written and published increasingly avant-garde and speculative fiction. After founding the multimedia arts company Jaded Ibis Productions in 2008, and its book imprint, Jaded Ibis Press, she began investigating and lecturing on the intersection of narrative forms and new technologies.
She met and married her husband, architect Mark Shapiro, in 1999. After he took a position in a Seattle architecture firm, the couple relocated to Washington State, then to Hong Kong. They now live in Portugal and the U.S.