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 Sophie Anderson, author of The House with Chicken Legs and The Girl Who Speaks Bear series, to join her for afternoon tea. 

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

Sophie: My debut novel, The House with Chicken Legs, was published by Usborne in May 2018, so now is the perfect time to relax and reflect on my debut year over afternoon tea.

May 2018: swirly whirly celebration cake

Publication month was a whirlwind of wonderfulness that carried me all over the country: a book launch in Waterstones Covent Garden surrounded by literary stars and the sounds of balalaika music; visits to Waterstones stores from London to Glasgow and a myriad places in between, to sign books and be dazzled by amazing Book of the Month displays; school visits, library visits, presentations, workshops, festivals (including my first Hay!), blog tours, interviews … I’m not sure my feet hit the ground this month.

Launch at Waterstones Covent Garden for The House with Chicken Legs
My advice for debut authors is to prepare for publication month as much as possible BEFORE it begins – write blog posts, decide the key points you’d like to get across in interviews, plan your presentations and workshops, and get your website and social media ready for action. Then brace yourself and enjoy the ride!

AUGUST 2018:  assorted biscuits

The whirlwind calmed; school visits, book shop tours, press requests and festival appearances all eased off. After the Edinburgh Festival, it was time to find my comfy writing chair because both book-two edits and my fourth baby were due in September.

Tomi Adeyomi and Sophie Anderson at the Edinburgh Book Festival, 2018
After all the excitement and buzz of publishing The House with Chicken Legs, it was daunting returning to work. My edits seemed mountainous, and doubts over whether I’d be able to produce something worthy of publication again crowded around me. But I was reassured countless times by my agent, editors, and fellow authors that second-book-syndrome is perfectly normal, and sure enough by the end of the month I had climbed the editorial mountain and was smiling at the top.

Both baby and book nearing delivery!

February 2019: cream eclairs

A steady breeze; I relaxed at school and library visits, and another round of book-two edits seemed far less mountainous. There were occasional gusts of excitement as The House with Chicken Legs was nominated for awards, received foreign-rights offers, and I heard design and publication news about book two. But things calmed down enough that I actually had time to begin plotting book three …

Sophie relaxing into events, this time with baby!

Born in Swansea but now living in the Lake District, Sophie Anderson left a career as a scientist to become a mother, home educator and story-weaver.

Sophie’s debut novel, The House with Chicken Legs, has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, Waterstones Children Book Prize, Blue Peter Book Award, and Children’s Fiction Book of the Year in the British Book Awards. She is represented by Gemma Cooper of the Bent Agency.

Twitter: @sophieinspace


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. 

Picture credits 
Cover illustration for House with Chicken Legs by Melissa Castrillón
Afternoon tea illustration by Coral Walker
Photos of cakes, all from Pixabay
Photo of Sophie Anderson by SeeNicksPhotography

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