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 Louie Stowell, author of the Dragon in the Library trilogy, and the soon to be published Middle Grade portal fantasy, Otherland, to join her for afternoon tea.


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


A year (and a bit) ago, I launched my debut, The Dragon in the Library. Here’s what the year brought. Disclaimer: time has no meaning to me anymore, so I can’t swear that I have the timeline right. But hopefully cakes and biscuits will distract you from any inaccuracies…  


June 2019: I launched The Dragon in the Library in June in a VERY hot bookshop with friends, family and other bookish people. It was wonderful to take a moment to celebrate after the nerve-wracking run-up to publication. 


Obligatory getting-my-friends-to-prove-they’ve-bought-the-book photo.

I got a beautiful paper dragon from my wife as a publication day gift, and a number of stuffed ones from other people. Top tip: write books about things you want merch for!  


Later that summer… and autumn…it’s all a blur 


Next came school events. I bought a collection of wizard cloaks for these, and again, the theme is heat. Summer + polyester cloaks + warm schools = sweaty wizard. It was immense fun though. Looking back with pandemic goggles, I miss live events SO MUCH. 


One of my favourite events was at Grasmere School in the Lake District. A beautiful setting, glorious weather, and we got to do it outside in a grassy playground with picnic tables. Here's me signing books. As an author, you have to get good at name-spelling fast. 

This was a panel about funny books, but in all the photos I look deadly serious.


I also talked to librarians, at literary festivals and – in one case – at a stately home. But the location that stuck with me most was this incredible school library… 



Winter to spring 2020: My second book, The Monster in the Lake, was published in January.  


I had a tour planned for April. For obvious reasons, that was cancelled – not only was it a pandemic, I also had Covid.  


So, after recovering from that, instead of promoting Monster, I turned my attention to writing new books – the next book in the series, plus editing a fairy book called Otherland and writing an idea I’d had a while ago, about Norse mythology. More on that in a minute… 


Summer to autumn 2020: New book deal! My funny diary-style Loki story sold to Walker. It was an auction, which was a new experience for me, and a good one. The cherry on the smug cake was that I was going to illustrate it myself. Years of doodling in meetings can now retroactively be claimed as continuing professional development.  


Now: My third Dragon in the Library book is out now – also under lockdown. I’m fairly used to it now. Next up: Otherland, my fairy book. Going to reveal the cover any day. Every new book is an emotional rollercoaster. But I’m excited about what’s to come. 


Louie Stowell is a children's author based in London. She spent fifteen years in the publishing industry, most recently as publisher at Ladybird, part of Penguin Random House, before becoming a full time author. She's written dozens of non-fiction books for children and is the author of The Dragon in the Library trilogy, published by Nosy Crow. They're funny books about wizards, dragons, libraries and friendship. Her next book, publishing in May this year, is a darkly funny Middle Grade portal fantasy called Otherland, about two children who have to rescue a stolen baby from the Fairy Queen in a realm where nothing is as it seems. She also has a three-book deal with Walker for a funny diary series about the Norse god Loki being punished by living on Earth as a mortal child and - worse - going to school.  


Louie lives with her wife, Karen, her dog, Buffy, and a creepy puppet that is probably cursed. 


Twitter: @louie stowell  

Instagram: @louie stowell  


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

Picture credits

Cover illustrations for Dragon in the Library and Monster in the Lake: Davide Ortu

Cover illustration for Otherland: George Ermos
Tea logo: Coral Walker

Book launch photos: Karen Lawler

Grasmere photo: Grasmere School

All other photos: Louie Stowell

Author photo: Nosy Crow

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