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 Justin Davies, author of Help! I Smell a Monster and Whoa! I Spy a Werewolf, to join her for afternoon tea. 

After a whirlwind post-debut year, it’s a chance for Justin 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 life after debut.


I knew the year following publication was going to be busy, but if I’d known just how busy, I might have made the decision to lay off all cakes and biscuits and find a personal trainer instead. I didn’t, and so I’m happy to report that the past twelve months have seen a generous – if not entirely sensible – quantity of sweet items consumed.

May 2019       Help! I Smell a Monster cake

I celebrate the launch of Help! I Smell a Monster with a standing-room-only event in Edinburgh. Everyone’s there – my family, my agent, total strangers! They sell out of books and I’m the happiest person in town. To top it off, a surprise Help! I Smell a Monster cake is delivered to the launch by my friend Scott. My first school visit is the very next day. I immediately realise these visits will be the absolute best thing about being a children’s author – I love them! 

June 2019         Ice cream

My debut festival appearance at the Borders Book Festival. First-time nerves quickly evaporate amongst the friendliest bunch of authors and festival staff a children’s author could possibly meet. I enjoy a pre-event lunch playing a quick round of “Spot-the-Famous-Faces” with my husband, then celebrate a successful appearance with a tasty ice cream.

Illustrator Kim Geyer with Justin Davies

July 2019
           Fancy canapes

Like all aspects of life, with the highs come the lows. A month or so after publication, I discover that my book isn’t as widely available on the UK high street as I might have liked. I have no control over the buying decisions of book retailers, but it doesn’t stop me wishing I did! But then I attend the Hachette Children’s Group Summer Party on their fabulous roof terrace overlooking the Thames – and I get to meet my illustrator Kim Geyer for the first time. I swiftly bin the plate of stale pink wafers from earlier in the month and grab some fancy canapes instead.

August 2019     Delicious chocolate brownies
I never dreamed I’d ever be a published author, let alone appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival! But here I am, shaking with terror in the Authors' Yurt. A plate of delicious chocolate brownies helps steady the nerves before a sell-out Schools’ Programme event with 250 excited kids. Then, my image is added to the gallery of EIBF authors when I’m snapped by official festival photographer Chris Close – as a cyclops, one of the monsters from my book. 

Autumn 2019     Assorted biscuits
I’m trying to juggle my job as cabin crew (and jetlag!), promoting my book with festivals and school visits, and looking after my mum who’s been poorly. Finding a balance isn’t easy and I realise that I haven’t written a new word of anything since before May when I sent off the final edit of book two. There are so many things going on. I dip into a tin of assorted biscuits and dust down my laptop.

January 2020      Lemon drizzle

I can’t believe book two, Whoa! I Spy a Werewolf, is out already! It’s a quieter launch this time but no less fun. At the same time I’m beginning to appreciate some gritty truths about being published and begin to obsess about sales figures, rankings and how long my books will stay on the shelves. It feels like a bittersweet month so I scoff some lemon drizzle and talk things over with my SCBWI support group (#becpub – couldn’t do this without you!).

Spring 2020         Tunnocks Caramel Wafers

I’ve become something of a hustler and now have a diary chock-full of school visits, bookshop appearances and festivals. There’s just time between events to gobble up some Tunnocks Caramel Wafers. Meeting young readers is still my favourite aspect of being a children’s author but it’s time to knuckle down and write some words.

Things I’ve learned along the way

1. A support network of other writers is essential.

2. My job is to write the words and not to worry about things I can’t control.

3. Make friends with booksellers. Support them and they’ll support you!

4. Amazon rankings are the work of the devil; they’ll make your cakes go stale and turn your biscuits to dust.


Like Superman, Justin Davies leads a double life. In one, he flies around the world as cabin crew. In the other, he writes middle grade fiction with the aim to make kids laugh. Sometimes the two lives converge; then it gets entertaining.

Twitter: @flyingscribbler
Instagram: flyingscribbler
Facebook: @justindaviesauthor

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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