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 Frankish welcomes Patrice Lawrence, author of Orange Boy and Indigo Donut, to join her for Afternoon Tea. 

After a whirlwind post-debut year, it’s a chance for Patrice 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.

Has the reality lived up to the dreams? What do you wish you’d known before the first thrills of your book birthday became a distant memory? And are launch parties and school visits really that terrifying?

One Year Later: A Nice Biscuit

Patrice: My brother recently discovered my teenage diary. It’s cover-to-cover angst, driven by hormones and an unrequited infatuation with a boy in my history class. (Or was it unrequited? There are many, many paragraphs dedicated to ‘Did he know’?) In between protracted daydreaming about slow-dancing with my prospective loved one to Barbra Streisand’s 'Woman In Love' (on a barren planet, for goodness sake!) and stressing over my best friend beating me in a chemistry exam, I’d kept letters responding to the poems I’d sent off in hope. And these are old skool letters beaten out on an old skool typewriter. Some are rejections, but one is from the local newspaper, the Brighton Evening Argus, paying me one pound to print my poem. It was my first paid gig. I was thirteen.

I had a very long time after that to imagine what it was like to have a proper book published. But not so long to think about what happens after you’re published.

Orangeboy was an accident, the result of a random prompt at a residential crime-writing course. He woke up dreaming of yellow. Suddenly, I saw it clearly — a shy sixteen-year-old boy on a date with a girl way above his league. They’re at a fairground and she’s adding mustard to his hot dog. He hates mustard, but doesn’t want to ruin the vibe.  They go on some rides together and he’s not always sure if she likes him. When the ghost train stops, she’s dead.

Outside the BBC before Woman's Hour

It was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award, as well as many other awards and won the Waterstones Prize for Older Children’s Fiction and the YA Bookseller Prize.

My second book, Indigo Donut, was published in the UK in July 2017. I became a freelance writer at the end of September 2017. I have a contract for a third YA book, as well as a short middle grade book, and I have been commissioned to write stories for two anthologies. Other projects are in the pipeline.

So what have I learned? In addition to persistence and making my work as good as it can be?


You know that feeling when you’re sitting with a group of friends and you suddenly realise you all know someone in common? Then you all — um — have an opinion about that person?  Same thing happens if you’re a writer. You never know who knows who. (And who knows you.)

Patrice with Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give
Many opportunities for me have arisen from meeting people. (Those meetings have often involved wine.) I’ve been invited on school visits, asked to judge writing competitions, delivered talks and participated in panels. When I was lucky enough to be invited on to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, I realised that I had previously worked with the features producer on a wonderful project encouraging literacy through creative writing in prisons. Imagine if I’d been a horror.

But – this is the most unexpected one. I have been invited to be a reviewer on a BBC Radio 4 arts review show. How?

Patrice and Stella Duffy
Remember that crime-writing course? A friend and fellow SCWBI I met at that course has a daughter who works for a library service. I was recommended as a guest for an event with Stella Duffy at the library. By a coincidence that had completely bypassed me, Stella also coordinated the Fun Palaces initiative from the building where I worked. She also recommended me to radio producers …

So, I know writers are often, by necessity, solitary creatures. I know talking to strangers can be tough, but start small. Network with other SCBWIs who are all too willing to share contacts and tips. Join LinkedIn to connect with librarians, publishers, editors and other writers. Join Twitter. Don’t worry about followers — though SCBWIs will follow you! — but use it as an information source about what’s happening in the children and YA writing world.
But, most of all — be nice.


Patrice Lawrence is an award-winning writer of stories for children and young people. Orangeboy, her debut book for young adults, was shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award, won the Bookseller YA Prize and Waterstones Prize for Older Children's Fiction, and has been shortlisted for many regional awards. Indigo Donut, her second book about young adults, was published in July 2017. It was book of the week in the Times, Sunday Times and Observer, and one of the Times' top children's books in 2017. Both books have been nominated for the Carnegie Award.

Blog: The Lawrence Line Twitter: @LawrencePatrice

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.

Twitter: @tizzief

Website: Tizzie Frankish


  1. Great look back on an impressive debut year. So proud of you, Patrice. I look forward to further greatness!

  2. Brilliant. Be nice. Perfect. And I second Candy’s comment, we all look forward to watching further greatness from you ❤️. Off to find the Woman’s Hour clip to listen to now x


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