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 Lucy Van Smit, author of The Hurting, to join her for Afternoon Tea. 

Afternoon tea illustration by Coral Walker

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

Lucy: Thank you, Debut Diaries, for getting me to focus on the highlights of The Hurting

September 2018 – An endless month of bubbly and cheese straws

I was moderating authors and screenwriters at the London Screenwriters Festival in front of several hundred people. The Festival Director presented Hollywood guru Scott Myers with a copy of The Hurting. A week later, the launch at Waterstones Trafalgar Square sold a record 100 copies. 

Chicken House publisher Barry Cunningham and Lucy van Smit

I felt incredibly privileged that loved ones read my debut. It is an honour, nerve-wracking, but an honour, to invite friends and family into your psyche. 

TV friends only knew me as a TV documentary producer of famous authors. Publication drew together many threads of my life and careers. At 60, I felt blessed to have reviews in the FT and Irish Times as “a writer to watch.”

Yet, my Top Tip for being a published author would be to get a therapist.  

Oh, I wish I was joking. I should have done that. In many ways, I’ve found this past year extraordinarily hard. A needy monster showed up. In the whirl of school visits and talks, the monster retreats, but with every success, he undermines and whispers that you should have done more, done better, be faster, be more.  

Winter – More school visits. More tea cakes!!

I was asked to write a TV series on Supernatural Nordic Noir, which gobbled up considerable time and was a lot of fun. 


The Hurting was published in Germany with a big marketing campaign and a filmed book trailer that reached 30,000 viewers and sold in multiple countries worldwide.

March – In hospital and fruit replaces cake! 

Things went downhill. A high-speed skiing accident left me unable to lie down for eight weeks. But hey, Rembrandt slept sitting upright and still knocked out masterpieces! Unable to write without pain, I was truly stuck. A frozen shoulder became an insightful metaphor. Seven months on, my smashed collarbone failed to knit and requires more surgery. I am determined it will heal and try not to panic about disruption to writing my MG adventure for Chicken House and my screenplay of The Hurting.  

September 2019 – Celebrating in style with Irish Potato cakes!  

The Hurting was shortlisted by Irish Librarians for the Great Reads awards, which made me super happy as I’d just found out I was 5/8th Irish. 

Top Tips 

Join SCBWI Author Bootcamp BEFORE publication and get clear on what you want and then lower your expectations.   

Befriend librarians and booksellers, they put your book in readers’ hands.  

Prioritise writing, and remind yourself why you love to write. Relish the freedom. 

When things get hectic, become mindful and enjoy the moment. In a busy world, it’s such an honour to have your words read. I am touched by continued fabulous reviews for The Hurting and love school visits. I never tire of seeing how brilliant pupils are. 


* Cover of The Hurting by Helen Crawford-White


Lucy Van Smit was a TV producer who travelled worldwide for NBC News, flew on Air Force One with President Reagan, and got surrounded by tanks at Manila airport during a coup, before she chilled and made documentaries for Canadian Broadcasting on authors, including John Le Carré, Martin Amis and Ian MacEwan. Lucy is now an award-winning author herself. Her debut novel The Hurting was dubbed Teen Noir – a story about the power of attraction and the terrifying consequences of falling for the wrong boy, which leads a British teenager to kidnap a baby in the Norwegian Fjords. Bought by JK Rowling’s publisher – the legendary Barry Cunningham and Chicken House Books  The Hurting is being translated into Russian, German, World Spanish & Polish. (Lucy is agented by Sallyanne Sweeney at MMB Creative)

Instagram: lucyvansmit
Facebook: lucy.vansmit
Twitter: Lucyvansmit
Her website: Lucy Van Smit

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.

Twitter: @tizzief
Tizzie's website:

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