Welcome to this virtual landscape where SCBWI-BI members share their debut journeys with us. This month Helen Victoria steps out with author Lu Fraser, whose debut The Littlest Yak was out in September.

Let’s begin our journey… 

There’s nothing like a good walk to fuel creative ideas and give us inspiration in our writing. Where are you taking us on our walk today? 

Ahhh…this walk is going to need stout boots and a stout heart! Up we go, over the sheep-sheared grass in the mist, clinging to an ancient path all the way to a long-forgotten iron age fort. It’s truly eerie at dawn but the views are tremendous. You can feel the history of the place seeping up through the soles of your shoes, can’t you?! But Shhhhh! We can’t talk for a bit! This is where I edit, in my head, as I walk! 

What about the landscape you have created in your novel? How important is the setting to your plot and themes? 

Well, I love a walk with a good view so it’s probably not surprising that I put Gertie (The Littlest Yak) on top of a mountain! Gertie lives in a world of ‘ice-swirling, toe-curling’ blizzards and I really like the stark contrast between the physical setting and the warm & woolly herd that love her! But, in the end, her Mountain is always secondary – the heart of the tale needs to be strong enough to stand on its own two feet, no matter what the backdrop is. 

As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand steps starts with one. Tell us about your inspiration for your novel. 

Gertie was born in the blink of an eye as I sat on a delayed flight to Edinburgh one wet and windy October. My daughter was sat with me and I suddenly realised how much she’d grown, how quickly time had passed and how much I wanted to hit the ‘stop!’ button before she grew any more. Right there, in that moment, everything seemed perfect. By the time the plane took off the outline was done! 

Now we have got into our stride, can you tell us what you loved most about writing this book?

This is probably the first book where I indulged my love of alliteration and assonance - the melodic complexity of language really fascinates me and I let go a bit more in The Littlest Yak! Without question, though, the spread that is most dear to me is the dialogue between Gertie and her mummy at the end. It really choked me when I first wrote it! 

We seem to be lost in the woods now. Can you describe your most difficult moments when you were writing … and how you got back onto the right path? 

Honestly? I can’t say Gertie was tricky to write - I’d be lying! Gertie is hugely well behaved and all I had to do was clip-clop along behind her. I do, however, have other books that are nowhere near as well behaved and that have reduced me to tears! When that happens, the best thing you can do is WALK AWAY! Boots on, dogs by my side…and back up the hill we go! The worst thing about writing Gertie was when she went out on submission at London Book Fair – I was so terrified she wouldn’t find a home (I ate A LOT of cake at LBF that week!). As it turned out, lots of people loved Gertie but handing her to the brilliant team at S&S was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made – they’re the perfect fit for both Gertie and me! 

As we reach the summit, can you tell us how it feels to be a first time author? 

As I sit at my desk typing this, The Littlest Yak has been out in the world for a whole month - it’s been a bonkers mixture of hysterical jubilation and teeth-grinding terror! After all these years, to walk into a bookshop and see The Littlest Yak staring back at me…the shock is NEVER going to wear off! A couple of days ago I saw a little girl choose Gertie, buy her, then leave the store clutching The Littlest Yak in her hands, without having the faintest idea that I was the author – I had to hop behind the bookshelf and try not to cry! Of course, Gertie belongs to everyone now - not least, the army of people that it takes to get a book out of an author’s head and onto a shelf! I’d never have managed it without my incredible agent, Mandy Suhr at Miles Stott, my champion of an editor, Helen Mackenzie-Smith and the wonder that is Art Director, Jane Buckley, plus the ENTIRE perfect, brilliant S&S team and, of course, my other ‘other half’ – the marvel that is lovely Kate Hindley! 

We’ve finished our walk and now so I think we deserve to celebrate with tea in a cosy inn. As we warm our feet by the blazing fire, tell me where you think your writing will take you in the future? 

Well…I am doo-lally happy to say that there’s more coming from me and brilliant Kate Hindley at S&S plus I also have a second partnership at S&S that I am beside-myself excited about (watch this space!). I also have LOTS of lovely projects with Bloomsbury, too – two of which will be launched next year (2021) with two more wonderful illustrators. In addition I also have something a little bit different that will be looking for a new home very soon… I’ve got new stories coming out every year until 2024 so I’m really fortunate to be so busy – I’m grateful for it every single time I sit down at my desk. 

Finally, I have really enjoyed walking and talking with you today. Can you give us one take away tip for yet-to-be-published writers? 

Thankyou so much for a lovely walk, too! Hmmm…one take take away tip? Well, that’s easy… Write ‘Raw’. Be so honest with your writing that it makes you feel vulnerable. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Write openly, write honestly…


After a career spent working alongside much-loved, classic children’s books, Lu Fraser finally took the plunge & started creating stories of her own. Her first picture books were snapped up by Bloomsbury on their launch at the Bologna Bookfair and she hasn’t looked back since. Her debut picture book The Littlest Yak(Simon & Schuster) was published in September 2020, with illustrator Kate Hindley. 2021 will see the launch of The Viking Who Liked Icing (Bloomsbury) and The Witchling’s Wish (Bloomsbury)with more stories scheduled with both Bloomsbury and S&S until 2024. 
Follow Lu on Twitter @_lufraserand Instagram @lu.fraser


Helen Victoria 
is a writer of YA fiction, a full-time drama teacher and a reader of anything and everything. When she is not putting on shows, reading or writing, Helen loves to walk in wild places, or hang out with her family and friends in London, France and Cornwall.

Follow Helen:


Imogen Foxell
 is an illustrator with a particular interest in creating intricate imaginary worlds. She illustrates English literature revision cards for, and interesting words for Her website is Follow her on Twitter and Instagram


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