DEBUT DIARIES — ONE YEAR ON Rashmi Sirdeshpande

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 Rashmi Sirdeshpande, author of How to be ExtraordinaryNever Show a T-Rex a BookHow to Change the WorldDosh, and the soon-to-be published Good News and Never Teach a Stegasaurus to Do Sums

After a whirlwind post-debut year, it’s a chance for Rashmi 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.

Debut Diaries: 
One Year (and a bit) on. 

Rashmi: ONE YEAR?! Whaaaat? Well, this has been a bit of a whirlwind. We’re going to need a lot of cake.    

September-November 2019 - Unicorn cupcakes with fizzy sprinkles 


In September, I did my first ever school visit! Turned up with my shiny shoes and my lucky unicorn umbrella for three back-to-back sessions in a completely packed hall. Intense but amazing! Children shouted my name through the corridors and hi-fived as I passed. Etched in my heart, that day.  

Rashmi's unicorn umbrella

In November, at the SCBWI Conference, it was soooo good to hang out with so many friends over teas, coffees, biscuits, and Wagamamas. And Mo (Farah!) from How To Be Extraordinary got a spot on the Mass Book Launch cake! Illustrator Annabel Tempest couldn’t be there but I sent her a photo and a squealy message. We ended the year on a high too – How To Be Extraordinary was BookTrust’s Book of the Day on New Year’s Eve!  

SCBWI conference 2019 Mass Book Launch cake

March/April 2020 - Wibbly-wobbly JELLY  


March was filled with World Book Day shenanigans and school visits and picture-book-making workshops designed by my 6-year-old (freelance PR, woefully underpaid). Then the pandemic hit. Lockdown happened. My writing room turned into a school. And…umm…a YouTube studio.  



In a bit of a writing low, I had two books bumped out of their April and May publication slots. I had my first author events lined up at the Hay Festival and the Edinburgh Book Festival and both were cancelled. Boo. And that’s just the bookish stuff. Meanwhile, there was chaos, confusion and heartbreak at what was happening in the world and it was all A Bit Too Much.  


But then. A chink of light. A new double-book deal with Wren & Rook and one of the books in that deal was Good News: Why The World Is Not As Bad As You Think. A hopeful book. Just what I needed.  

August 2020 - Eton Mess (LOTS OF IT)  


Ok, so quite a bit happened this month. How To Be Extraordinary was in the WINDOW of Waterstones Piccadilly (and stayed there for months!). I worked on four very different picture books with the most wonderful illustrators. I researched and wrote Good News (toughest thing EVER). AND I had the huge privilege of doing a Dosh event at the virtual Edinburgh Book Festival.   

OH, AND I HAD TWO BOOKS OUT, JUST TWO WEEKS APART! Never Show a T-Rex a Book with the amazing Diane Ewen (Puffin Books), which had the most GORGEOUS reception from readers, librarians, and bookshops! And Dosh, illustrated by Adam Hayes (Wren & Rook), which brought some of the best reviews EVER (“ESSENTIAL READING” – hello!). And some of the funniest!  


September/October - Molten chocolate brownies with COPIOUS amounts of ice cream  


The Puffin Book of Big Dreams launched this month and I somehow ended up with my name on the actual COVER with legends like Malorie Blackman, Michael Rosen, and Arthur Age 10 (bless his little cotton socks).

As if that wasn’t enough, we had lots of T-Rex love during Libraries Week (it’s dedicated to librarians after all!), T-Rex was BookTrust’s Book of the Day, I had a profile piece in The Bookseller, and How To Change the World (illustrated by Annabel Tempest) was EDITOR’S CHOICE the very next month!   


So all that sounds very shiny and happy, but the fact is it all coincided with me SLOGGING workwise, constantly battling imposter syndrome and sales issues, and dancing on the edges of burnout. I’ve promised to take better care of myself going forward and that means whacking FOMO on the head every now and then and reminding myself to keep my eyes on my own journey.  


Meanwhile, there’s plenty in the pipeline – lots of beautiful picture books with some AWESOME illustrators. And I’m cooking up some new things with the help of my fabulous agent, Lydia Silver, and my brilliant editors. It’s been a tough year. A really tough year. But now more than ever I’m so happy and grateful to be making bold, uplifting, and hopeful books that will make a difference to young readers.  



  1. Don’t burn out. Take care of yourself. Aim high and do all the exciting things but leave space for YOU.  
  2. Don’t compare yourself to other people—you can’t win that game. And when things look all sparkly for someone else, remember what you’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. You never really know the full story.  
  3. Surround yourself with people who get you. People to vent at, cry with, and celebrate with. I don’t know what I’d do without my people (you know who you are!).   



Rashmi is a lawyer-turned-writer who loves taking big ideas and making them accessible for young readers. She writes picture books, illustrated non-fiction and a few things in between. And when she’s not writing, you’ll find her making reels on Instagram or twisting herself into all sorts of shapes on her yoga mat.  


Twitter: @RashmiWriting 

Instagram: @RashmiWriting  



Tizzie Frankish is a regular contributor to Words & Pictures.
Website: Tizzie Frankish
Twitter: @tizzief

Picture credits

Tea logo: Coral Walker

Cover illustration How to Be Extraordinary and How to Change the World: Annabel Tempest
Cover illustration Good News and Dosh: Adam Hayes

Cover illustration Never Show a T-Rex a Book: Dianne Ewen
Unicorn cupcakes: Amazon, Creative Commons license
How to Be Extraordinary in window: Emily Lunn, Puffin Books editor
Author photo, Rashmi: Charlotte Knee

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