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 Marisa Noelle, author of The Shadow Keepers, The Unadjusteds, and The Mermaid Chronicles — Secrets of the Deep, to join her for afternoon tea.

Marisa: Hello! Thank you so much for inviting me back to look over the last year since the launch of The Shadow Keepers, and boy, what a rollercoaster it’s been! 


July to September 


The book, a YA horror with mental health elements, was officially released on July 30 2019. As time sped towards its release, most of my nerves were about making a speech on launch night. Public speaking has been an issue with me since I developed an anxiety disorder, and it had been years since I’d spoken to a large group. I hate being the center of attention; I’d always shy away from blowing out those birthday candles. Eek! 


The launch itself took place in early September at Waterstones in Guildford. They couldn’t have made me feel more welcome. Armed with a bit of Dutch courage, I launched into my speech – talking about the inspiration behind the book.  



It was a fabulous night. I managed to get over my nerves and deliver a great speech. I didn’t have the courage to read from the book, but I was super proud of myself and my little indie book. And for those of you who missed out, here’s a little snippet of video from the night.  


A little while later I was invited to my local radio station (Brooklands radio) to talk about mental health in young adult books – a subject very important to me. (Listen)


During this time I signed with my new agent, and couldn’t be happier about the relationship. I’ve been through the wringer with agent relationships and it feels so much better to have finally found someone I really connect with.  




November brought more excitement as, still riding high from my debut book, I released my second novel, with a different small press. The Unadjusteds is a YA dystopian sci-fi about the dangers of genetic modification and what our world might look like if ethical lines were crossed. I even managed to squirrel a proof copy into the hands of someone very influential while I was at an event at my son’s school!  



Plus there was the SCBWI mass book launch. I was so excited to stand on that stage and celebrate so many fabulous books with people I’d only met online before.  


I think signing with two smaller presses enabled me to avoid the whole Book Two syndrome and just get on with creating what I wanted to create. I’m really productive, have quite a few novels sitting on my laptop waiting for their moment of sunshine, and continue to throw myself into creating more. Writing has always been my therapy, first-drafting my favourite part. It’s the editing that I find draining. But as long as someone tells me what to do, I can find a new confidence and attack it with that advice.  


I also went on a public-speaking course run by the Guardian with some equally terrified author friends.  





With the highs, of course there are lows. In the back of my mind, I’d had niggles when signing with the press who published The Shadow Keepers, but as I had more books written than I knew what to do with, I was willing to experiment with this one. Unfortunately, the press was not above-board. Proof copies were distributed instead of final versions, with a plethora of typos. But nothing could be done and my publisher didn’t want to get involved. It showed me that no matter how much research you might do, there are always surprises.  


If presented with the same choice, I would still go ahead, because it taught me so much about the publishing side of the business. Prior to this I’d been terrified to contemplate self-publishing. The learning curve seemed too steep, there were too many things to learn and I had an agent, so this would be frowned upon. Since then, my agent has given me the go-ahead to re-release The Shadow Keepers as a self-published title, and I am proud to say it is now up there in the usual places and I am so much prouder of this book now.  


It was also around this time that the publisher of The Unadjusteds informed me they wouldn’t be taking book two, a double sucker-punch. It took me a while to pick myself up. But since then, I have found a home for book two and three in the series and can happily report the second book (The Rise of the Altereds) will be released this November.  



This month saw the release of my third novel, The Mermaid Chronicles – Secrets of the Deep. It is a YA fantasy romance and the first in a series of five books.  


I have also been twiddling my thumbs. My agent and I have worked hard on preparing my MG book for submission, and then COVID hit. She is cautious, waiting for the best time to submit. Everything is uncertain. I have books out there, and I am proud of them, but I dream of signing with a bigger publisher that might actually have a PR person. I’m learning all this on my own at the moment, and let’s face it, like so many authors, I just want to write! 


So, as you can see, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. But it’s my rollercoaster and I am still journeying.  


I had just started to do school visits when COVID kicked off. It took me a while to grapple with the public speaking, but I managed an entire workshop on being an author for Year 8 at a local school, and an entire assembly for a secondary school about reading for pleasure! I was so nervous, but I did it, and I know I can do it again! 


This time of year always sees me mentoring another author in the Write Mentor program, which I adore. It’s a lovely community to be part of and I love seeing another author grow under mentorship.  


Top Tips 


My advice for aspiring writers would be to trust your gut. Is that agent or publisher the right match for you?  Things can still go wrong, and that’s ok, because nothing is forever and you always have choices. I see myself becoming a hybrid author. Having a wonderful relationship with my agent—and perhaps self-publishing the titles she isn’t so keen on. I struggle to let things go!  


Also – find your tribe. I have two very close writing groups and they have made my journey so much brighter. They have supported me in the face of countless rejections and celebrated my successes. The rewards have been so much sweeter being able to share my journey with them.  


Marisa Noelle is the writer of middle grade and young adult novels in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and mental health. The Unadjusteds was released in November 2019 and The Mermaid Chronicles – Secrets of the Deep in June 2020. She is a mentor for the Write Mentor program, which helps aspiring MG and YA authors. When she’s not writing or reading or watching movies, she enjoys swimming. In the pool she likes to imagine she could be a mermaid and become part of some of her make-believe worlds.

Despite being an avid bookworm from the time she could hold a book, being an author came as a bit of a surprise to Marisa as she was a bit of a science geek at school. She lives in Woking, UK with her husband and three children. 




Twitter & Insta - @MarisaNoelle77

Websites –  & 


Author Tizzie Frankish

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.

Website: Tizzie Frankish
Twitter: @tizzief


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