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 Kate Mallinder, author of The Summer of No Regrets and the soon to be published Asking for a Friend, to join her for afternoon tea. After a whirlwind post-debut year, it’s a chance for Kate 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.

Kate: Thank you so much for inviting me along to an appropriately socially distanced afternoon tea, Tizzie. I love reading Debut Diaries and I’m so pleased I now get to join in.

April – Pimms and cake!

Despite the official publication day being May 2nd, the launch party for Summer of No Regrets was thoroughly celebrated by ninety or so friends and family at the Birmingham Waterstones on April 30. It was, without a doubt, one of the best evenings of my life. When I try to explain to non-writing folk what it means, I say it’s like applying for a job for six years and finally getting the gig! It was also the first time I signed a copy of my book. First time doing a Q & A. First time going to a launch and knowing most of the people! It was exactly what I wanted – fun, friendly and bursting with lots of my favourite people!

May and June – cold tea and flapjack

This is when it all got real. In a good way. It became less theoretical and became more about the practical hard work. Cold tea because on nearly every school visit I was always so busy I never got to it hot, and flapjack because it keeps you going even when you skip lunch. These were months packed with firsts: first paid school visit, first time going into bookshops and seeing my book and getting up the courage to ask to sign it, but also going in and not finding it there and digging deep to find the courage to introduce myself and pitch my book.

July – ice cold water

This was a really full-on month. I was thrilled to be asked along to YALC to be on the contemporary new voices panel, and a few weeks before I was asked to chair that panel. No Pressure! The day before YALC I was on an Empowering Teens panel with some fantastic authors at the Charing Cross Road Foyles in London. That week was blisteringly hot. I spent the day walking between five different Waterstones in central London. Not one had my book. I pitched it in every one of the shops. That evening I enjoyed being on the panel, and the next day I loved chairing the panel at YALC. I met some amazing writers, bloggers and readers, some of whom I knew from Twitter but had never met. It was intense. However the experience was like having ice-cold water tipped over me and I suffered a huge bout of imposter syndrome. Outwardly it was all fine, I don’t think anyone noticed but inwardly I didn’t feel like I belonged. The events went well but it left me feeling drained. On the upside, I finished the first draft of Asking for a Friend.

August – Devon ice cream with a flake

I went on holiday to Devon and, to coin that much overused YA phrase, I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding. While I was still popping into every bookshop I could find and meeting some lovely bookshop owners, I didn’t have any events. I’d also sent off Asking for a Friend to my editor and so I finally relaxed. Also, though I had no idea how sales were going, I felt I had done my book proud. It hadn’t bombed, the reviews had been good and I’d said yes to every opportunity that had come along. I couldn’t have done more and that felt good.

September - November – shortbread fingers

The pressure was off. I was still doing events, but they no longer felt new and scary and it all ticked along nicely.

December - January – Christmas pudding anyone?

Wow – trying to sell a summer book in the winter is hard. But don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll pick up as soon as everyone starts going on holiday in 2020 (lol!)

February – Big cream cake with sparklers

Summer of No Regrets was shortlisted for the Bristol Teen Book Award – I got to meet amazing authors, librarians, teachers and students. An absolutely brilliant day and definitely one of my highlights. I also met students who had read and loved my book and that was EVERYTHING. One teen nearly missed getting her copy signed as she got reading it again in the queue and lost her spot!

March – more flapjack

World Book Day was hard work but amazing fun. I talked to asylum seekers at Saint Chad’s Sanctuary in Birmingham, and to a 180-strong group of Year 8s in London. I travelled eleven hours within thirty-six and was nearly run over by a motorbike an hour before my school visit – talk about adrenalin rush! Looking back, those two days epitomise my whole debut year: the very best times and some of the most extreme feelings and every now and again, someone tries to run you over. It’s terrifying and lovely and heart-warming and validating and overwhelming and satisfying and contradictory.

April – lockdown loaf

April skipped past. Lots of cancelled events and dealing with a brand new type of writer’s block. But on the upside, proofs of Asking for a Friend went out and it’s been sent to the printers, so gearing up to do it all again, only completely differently. Talking of which, any secondary schools fancy an author video just for their school?

Low points:

Doing a school visit where the only copy sold was to the chaperone teacher.

Turning down an unpaid event at a bookshop where they couldn’t guarantee stock of my book and I wasn’t allowed to take copies.

High points:

Meeting loads of young teens who loved my book. As in properly adored it. Day. Made.

Discovering that despite being nervous the day before and dying of cringe the day after, I actually quite enjoy myself once I’m in front of an audience. Without having had a book published, I don’t think I’d ever have found this out about myself. Apparently I surprised my friends and family too, because so many of them mentioned how well I come across!

Earning out my advance on my first statement. It’s SO not about the money, and my advance was extremely modest, but still. This made me feel I’d exceeded my publisher’s expectations and that was a Good Thing.

Asking for a Friend is published on June 4 with Firefly Press.
Three teenagers plan a week at the beach. Agnes needs to find her sister. Hattie wants to escape the friends who have ghosted her. Jake is afraid he may be ill. It starts off as an excuse to get away and turns into the week of their lives.

Summer of No Regrets came out last year.
After their exams, four best friends pledge to live a summer regret-free, doing what they want to do however much it scares them. But when these choices become difficult, they will turn to each other for the strength to face the future. 

Kate Mallinder lives with her husband, four children and two cats near Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire. She’s currently studying for an MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. Drinking tea and reading books are her favourite things, preferably at the same time.

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:

Picture credits
Tea with Tizzie image: Coral Walker
Photos from Kate Mallinder

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