Welcome to Debut Diaries — One Year On, where SCBWI-BI members share their highs (hopefully lots of these) and lows (hopefully fewer of these) of the post-publication year. 
This month, Tizzie welcomes Peter Bunzl, author of the middle-grade novels Cogheart and Moonlocket, to join her for afternoon tea.

After a whirlwind post-debut year, it’s a chance for Peter to put his feet up and share his insights over a cuppa and some carefully chosen sweet treats, which reflect the mood of the months following his debut. 

August: A plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies 

The official launch of Cogheart isn't until September, but the book’s out at Waterstones already because they've chosen it as Children's Book of the Month. With this awesome promotion, Waterstones really get behind the book and boost sales and awareness. Most fantastic of all are the handcrafted windows the talented booksellers make of the gorgeous cover. 

Cogheart window, Waterstones Rose Lane Canterbury

I visit tons of Waterstones and sign stock. Meanwhile, I go through editorial notes for the first draft of Moonlocket — the sequel to Cogheart

September: A Victoria sponge, or should that be Victorian sponge? Light and fluffy and full of strawberry-flavoured fun!

Official launch month and Cogheart comes out everywhere. I organise a book-birthday party at Daunt Books in Marylebone, and loads of friends, family, and writers come along to celebrate.

Cogheart book launch — my speech, with my editor Rebecca
A week later, I hand in my second draft of Moonlocket. It’s taken four months, but I’m relieved to get it in on time because September is filled with book tour events. I meet quite a few indie booksellers — they’re great contacts to have, as they connect with local schools and organise events. For the school visits we start small and stick to single-class-sized groups. Amy and Stevie, my publicists who’ve organised the book tour, take it in turns to come along. 

Signing books for Bridlewood Primary at the Isambard School library
November: The SCBWI celebration cake - it even has Malkin on it!

When Cogheart was first on submission, I brought the opening pages to the November SCBWI conference Friday night crit group. Now, two years later, at my third conference, I’m a published author! I even get to take part in the mass book launch, dressed as Harry Potter, along with many of the SCBWI buddies I’ve met along the way.

SCWBICON — with fellow SCBWI and Usborne debut Kathryn Evans

December: Christmas pudding must mature before it’s ready to eat

A week before Christmas, I discover Cogheart has been shortlisted for the Waterstones book prize. I can't tell ANYONE until February, when the shortlist comes out. The only person I tell is my partner Michael. We drink some champagne to celebrate. I don't even inform my family when they ask how the book's doing. Publishing is like that — BIG secrets you can't breathe a word of to anyone until they're announced. 

Another great surprise in December is seeing Cogheart posters on stations' billboards, thanks to Alesha and the marketing department of Usborne. I go with my agent Jo and we take some pictures of a few in London. Jo tells the people walking by, “He wrote this book!"
Just before Christmas, I hand in the third draft of Moonlocket.

January: A many-stranded challah bread

I get more edits back and try to finish the fourth draft of Moonlocket, finessing the larger details. For this draft it feels as if I must plait the plot, characters, and emotions as closely as possible, so everything in the story is bound tightly together.

February: Someone's left the cake out in the rain!

Three weeks to do copyedits for Moonlocket. Oh, how I hate copyedits. There’s no more fudging unknown bits. This is the moment when you have to tie down every single unresolved thing and explain away all the weird continuity errors. It gives me such a headache.

March: ‘Our school dinners are the best school dinners.’ (They tell you this at every school.)

World Book Day — deportment lessons at Saint Helen and Saint Katharine School
World Book Week. Seeing kids are dressing up as my characters — the ones inside my head — is the most amazing thing ever! By now I feel comfortable with small talks, but I’ve said yes to two big ones: 200 students each! And both are without microphones, I discover when I arrive, so they're scary as hell! 

They go fine, and lots of enthusiastic kids get books signed afterwards, but by the end of World Book Week I feel run ragged. I realise I must tweak my event, as some craft elements aren't possible with large groups. I come up with some new ideas to gradually incorporate into the talk. Now, months later, they work well.

I check the Moonlocket proofs. Becky at Usborne collates the last-minute changes and we make the print deadline by the skin of our teeth! Just over a week later, at the Waterstones Book Prize, I get my first look at the Moonlocket book when she hands me a finished copy. We don’t win the Waterstones, but Usborne buy me some lovely steampunk cufflinks as a consolation prize.

May: Vanilla Kipferl - moon-shaped almond biscuits dipped in vanilla sugar. Try them, they’re delicious!

Cogheart and Moonlocket — together at last!

Nine months after Cogheart, Moonlocket is published. I have a second book launch at my local Waterstones. Cogheart wins the Dudley Teen Book award and Sefton Super Reads, and is shortlisted for the Branford Boase, which is an industry award that honours editors and writers together. Rebecca, my lovely editor, tells me it was the fourth bestselling 9-12 children's debut of 2016. I cheer, then wonder what the other three were… 

June: Cocktails with Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Doing a joint event at the Hay Festival with Kiran, author of Girl of Ink and Stars, was definitely one of the highlights of my year. The night I arrive, I go out for cocktails with Kiran and her husband, and we talk about books. The next day we discover our event has sold out, and we have been moved to a bigger venue: the starlight tent, with a star-studded ceiling! It seems appropriate for Kiran’s book, and a little bit for mine too.

Kiran doing some deportment at the Hay Festival

Afterwards, I get to hang out at the festival. I see some inspirational talks, bump into loads of lovely YA writers I know, and see Patrice Lawrence win the YA book prize for the awesome Orangeboy. Then I wander round the intriguing bookshops in town and buy too many books. 

When I get home, book three beckons. I bite my nails and start all over again. Will it be book-birthday cake, or burnout and burnt toast? Only time will tell…


Peter Bunzl is an author, filmmaker, and animator who grew up in South London in a rambling Victorian house with three cats, two dogs, one little sister, an antique dealer dad, and an artist mum. As a child he found inspiration visiting TV and film sets, including James Bond and Postman Pat, where his mum worked as a costume designer.

After art college and film school, Peter worked as an animator on commercials, pop videos, and two BAFTA-winning children’s TV shows, and wrote and directed several successful short films. He lives in North London with his partner Michael, a fox who visits their garden, and a clutter of house spiders.

Twitter: @peterbunzl

By day, Tizzie Frankish is a mum to two boisterous boys and a part-time university tutor; by night, she's 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.


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