Debut Diaries–One Year On: Sue Wallman

Afternoon Tea with Tizzie

Welcome to Debut Diaries–One Year On, where SCBWI-UK members share their highs (hopefully lots of these) and lows (hopefully less of these) of the post-publication year. 

This month, Tizzie welcomes Sue Wallman, author of YA psychological thrillers Lying about Last Summer and See How They Lie, to join her for Afternoon Tea. After a whirlwind post-debut year, it’s a chance for Sue to put her feet up, and share her insights over a cuppa and some carefully chosen sweet treats, which reflect the mood of the months following life after debut.

Sue Wallman:

Thanks for inviting me for afternoon tea. I can’t wait to sit down. It’s been an intense year. 

May 2016: Rainbow cake 

My debut book, Lying About Last Summer, was published. This was the fifth YA book I’d written and it had taken me eight years of serious trying to get to this point.

At the launch party with fellow SCBWIs Christina, Tania and Chitra

There were loads of blogposts to write, a launch to worry about and some Twitter chats. 

June: Digestive biscuit 

My first school workshop to a class of Y8s. I rehearsed like crazy and it seemed to go well. There was a muddle over money. I left some books behind to sell. Two were sold. I learned some valuable lessons about expectations and being upfront.

I worked on the first rewrites for my second book, See How They Lie, and emails went back and forth about the title and the cover. For a while it was going to be called The Hummingbird Cage

July: Chocolate fondant 

Lying About Last Summer was sold in Asda for three weeks. My sister and I went on a special trip to the big store at Clapham Junction, and I was congratulated by a woman passing down the book aisle as Clare took a photo of me. We later saw her pick up a copy! 

Seeing my book in Asda!
I received my first proper fan letter from a teenager I didn’t know. It came via the contact form on my website. A stand-out moment.

August: Fresh fruit gateau 

I was invited to a really nice evening of readings in King’s Cross at a “speakeasy” bar. All us authors had cocktails named after our books. 

Me with Lying About Last Summer cocktail at the speakeasy

Thanks to Olivia Levez, author of The Island and The Circus, I became part of a group that made a massive difference to me. She brought five of us together (me, Olivia, Kathryn Evans, Patrice Lawrence and Eugene Lambert) one Saturday in August and we became a group called Lost & Found. We were four introverts and one extrovert! From September to March we toured bookshops, schools and a library, helping to promote each other’s books. We also became friends.

September: Many-layered cake 

This was a month I won’t forget. My editor at Scholastic left, which was really sad. I went to the office to meet my new editor, Linas, who fortunately was a) lovely and b) American, which was handy because See How They Lie is set in America. Halfway through the meeting, he told me that Lying About Last Summer had been selected for the Zoella Book Club and he produced a bottle of champagne which he’d hidden behind some books. I was under strict instructions to tell no one (and I mean super-strict). I was thrilled – I knew it meant the book would reach a wider audience and I’d earn out my advance.

I worked EXTREMELY hard that month. I had a lot of edits to do in a very short space of time. Plus I had to create blog content for the WH Smith website (which organises the Zoella Book Club). It was decided that publication date for See How They Lie would be brought forward by two months to make the most of the Zoella promotion.

With fellow SCBWI member Cath Howe, I also taught a weekly course at Kingston Uni for six weeks, called Writing for Children

October: Champagne cake 

I was in the fracture clinic with my youngest daughter when I received an email to say that the Zoella news was going to be announced at 4pm that afternoon. I felt like a mini-celebrity.

November: Jaffa cake 

The month of the SCBWI conference – being part of the mass book launch, squished up next to Kathryn, Patrice and Olivia (Eugene, where were you?) was a great moment. 

I was chewing over ideas for the next book. The usual panic set in.

December: Panettone 

A fantastic trip to Liverpool with the Lost and Founders. I also judged a drama competition and was introduced as an author and I really felt as if I was.

The Lost and Founders in Liverpool

January: Red Velvet Cake 

An ambition realised: watching See How They Lie being printed at CPI’s printing presses in Chatham. 

I became a school library assistant at a big secondary school. The perk is being able to take out as many books as I want (and a steady income!). The downside is the job isn’t very flexible.

The cover of See How They Lie

February: Popping candy cupcakes 

The launch for See How They Lie – I felt much more relaxed this time round. I realised how much my public speaking has improved (one of my biggest fears pre-publication).

At launch of See How They Lie

March: Triple chocolate brownie 

See How They Lie was published on World Book Day. On the day, I did my first solo assembly and a couple of workshops in a lovely local school. 

On 29th March, I looked at my phone when I finished work and saw that I’d won the Worcestershire Teen Book Award. I now have my name on a trophy, a first for me! 

April: Kit Kat cake 

See How They Lie was chosen as Tesco’s YA book of the month. And I spent my Easter holidays grappling with book three. 

Another cup of Earl Grey? Yes please! 

"Lying About Last Summer is everything that's amazing about a thriller novel. I really loved it." –Zoella


Sue Wallman is a former magazine journalist who now works in a secondary school library. She’s been a member of SCBWI for six years. Her YA psychological thrillers Lying About Last Summer and See How They Lie are published by Scholastic UK.


By day, Tizzie Frankish is a mum to two boisterous boys and a part-time University Tutor; by night, an agented writer who is plagued by her characters. She writes better in her dreams than she does in the cold light of day (thank goodness for edits!) and she’s currently working on a number of Young Fiction stories. Her works are often humorous and more often than not include animals; even if she starts out thinking they won’t.



  1. Such an amazing year, Sue. You must be exhausted! Great to read about it all.

  2. Lovely to read this piece Sue, especially as I felt I was there with you at least for some of it. You are a great writer and deserve every bit of success.

  3. What a year! Hope sales keep pouring in & book three behaves. x


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