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 Emma Read, author of Milton the Mighty and Milton the Megastar, to join her for Afternoon Tea. After a whirlwind post-debut year, it’s a chance for Emma 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.

Emma Read:

Thank you so much for inviting me to share the tastiest highlights of my debut year. As with all new ventures there have been ups and downs, but no one could have predicted how it would end. If nothing else, it will be memorable!

June        Chickens, B’s, and spiders share a red velvet cake

 On June 6, 2019, Milton the Mighty was launched at Mr B’s Emporium, in Bath, by Barry Cunningham and the wonderful Chickens! It was a fantastic evening, extra special as some of my brilliant friends had travelled a long way to celebrate with me. Lots of people who all knew each other on social media came together in person to cheer on a teeny spider and I signed a lot of books! It was a magical evening.

Top Tip for launches – however nervous you are, it’ll be amazing!

Emma at BBC Countryfile Live

Emma and Simon Parkin at BBC Somerset

Summer   Takeaway coffee and never enough energy bars

After a weekend away in the New Forest I was straight into a series of firsts: school events, library visits, bookshop signings, Q & As and meeting my childhood crush, Simon Parkin, live on the radio! I was determined to say yes to every opportunity I was offered, no matter how small or seemingly ‘unsuccessful’. I did bookshops signings where only my family came, a book club with only four people (and two of them were twins!) and outdoor events where people were more focused on their picnic lunch than me! But each one of these experiences helped me learn and grow and sometimes lead to other opportunities – you never know what hidden impacts an event might have. On the other hand, I also learned that there is a limit to what you can do, especially when there is a second book to write, mentoring obligations and also, you know – life.

School visit, Herne Hill

September/October           Hallowe’en cupcakes

The summer left me exhausted, but I was determined to look back and know I’d given Milton his best start. I had a recuperative month and then October brought more school events, my first festival (Storytale in Bristol), and I met Twitter Legend Scott Evans @thereaderteacher with Books Are My Bag as part of the Bath Children’s Literature Festival.

Top Tip – find your limit when it comes to events. You don’t have to say yes to everything. 

Mr B's catalogue

Dutch version of Milton the Mighty

Christmas           Peppermint candy canes

The perfect Christmas presents arrived. Milton the Mighty was chosen by The Times as one of the best children’s books of 2019 and appeared in the Mr B’s Emporium Christmas catalogue. And for me, a copy of the Dutch language version of Milton, and something new in the pipeline.

Holly Rivers, Emma Read, and James Nicol at the Chicken House Roadshow, Cheese and Grain, Frome

World Book Day hat!
February/March           Fortune cookies

2020 started well. There was a worrying situation unfolding in China, but here in the UK I was entertaining my largest audience yet on the Chicken House Roadshow, with fellow authors James Nicol and Holly Rivers. It was a busy time as I enjoyed my first slew of all-day school visits, on and around World Book Day. In addition to the usual snack bars was a bottle of hand sanitiser...

April      Homeschool brownies and Cookie(s)

And just as I was getting into the swing of school visits, school came home. And so did work. And book 2! The launch of Milton the Megastar, the second in the Milton series, was celebrated by a gathering of four, in the garden. Still, there was a speech of sorts, cocktails and champagne and of course ... the cake.

Launching a book in lockdown has been tough. Sales are ... a mystery, promotion is limited, and I really miss meeting my readers and sharing my story with them. Hopefully it won’t be long until I’ll back into classrooms (Zoom and Skype chats available!). But there have been high points during this new strangeness ... for example having David Nicolls tweet about my book, and Konnie Huq (amongst many other things, author of Cookie) read Milton the Megastar on her YouTube channel. It’s also helped me to grow in confidence too – I’ve started my own YouTube channel of bitesize videos using brilliant new books to demonstrate writing tips (teachers and parents, do check it out!) and taken part in a live YouTube event with Litopia!

Top Tip – be kind to yourself. So much in writing is beyond your control (especially global disasters).


Emma Read is the author of the Milton series (Chicken House): Milton the Mighty, one of The Times Best Children’s Books of 2019, and Milton the Megastar, out now. She is a WriteMentor Spark mentor, workshop leader, and reader for both the WriteMentor Children's Novel Award and the Bath Children’s Novel Award. Her passion is for writing and reading middle-grade fiction, and particularly books for younger readers that encourage a lifelong love of reading.

Twitter: @emmydee73
Emma's website:

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

Cover design for Milton the Mighty and Milton the Megastar by Helen Crawford-White at Studio Helen

Tea illustration by Coral Walker

Illustrations for both books by Alex G. Griffiths

Photo of Emma at BBC Countrylife by BugLife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust

Christmas catalogue 2019 by Mr B's Emporium, Bath

Photo of school visit by Corpus Christi Catholic School, Brixton

Dutch version of Milton published by Billy Bones and translated by Mijke van Leersum

All other photos in article by Emma Read.

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