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 Joseph Elliot, author of The Good Hawk and The Broken Ravento join her for Afternoon Tea. After a whirlwind post-debut year, it’s a chance for Joseph to put his feet up, and share his insights over a cuppa and some carefully chosen sweet treats, which reflect the mood of the months following life after debut. 


February 2020Vegan Carrot and Apple Cake 


Book launch for The Good Hawk at the Jam & Rye

I’m greedy so I had two book launches – one at a swanky cocktail bar in London called the Jam & Rye, and one in Bristol Waterstones, in the store where I used to shop for books as a teenager. 

Book launch for The Good Hawk at Bristol Waterstones

Both were incredible events that I thoroughly enjoyed, despite being very nervous beforehand. For the London event, I ordered a giant vegan carrot and apple cake which everyone agreed was the best cake they’ve ever eaten. 

Delicious vegan carrot-and-apple cake for the book launch

My incredibly talented musician friend, Emily Stratford, surprised me by performing a song inspired by the book, which brought me to tears. For the Bristol launch, all my friends and family rallied together to make The Good Hawk-themed cupcakes – you can’t have a book launch without cake! 

Every book launch needs cupcakes...

A couple of weeks after the launch, I went on a schools’ tour to the north of England and Scotland. As an actor, I’m used to performing in front of people, but the thought of standing in front of hundreds of children and talking about my book terrified me. I soon got into the swing of it, though, inspired by the pupil’s enthusiasm and their brilliant (and occasionally off-topic!) questions. My advice to anyone going on school visits would be to make a fun PowerPoint presentation with lots of images and interactive elements, to keep the children engaged. They enjoy guessing games, dressing up and role-play, so I always make sure to include elements of those. 


March 2020A dry Rich Tea biscuit 


Lockdown. Bookshops shut, schools closed, events cancelled. Just as momentum felt like it was building, everything slowed right back down again. I lost track of how many school visits and festivals I had cancelled, and each one was a blow, but rather than dwell on what could have been, I poured my efforts into edits for my second novel, The Broken Raven. I was also kept afloat by all the wonderful messages I received about The Good Hawk on social media. I’m on Twitter and Instagram, and view both as work tools, very conscious of the fact that they can easily become an addiction. As long as you feel comfortable being on social media, it can be an amazing way to connect with readers and find a support network of other writers. However, as soon as you find yourself checking notifications multiple times a day, or start comparing your own writing journey with others’, it’s time to take a break, as it can be extremely detrimental to your mental health. 

Joseph Elliott on the BBC's Storytime, reading from The Good Hawk


May 2020Walnut, Cacao and Cinnamon Banana Bread 


I received the very exciting news that The Good Hawk had been selected to appear Jo Whiley’s Storytime on BBC Radio 2. I’ve been a fan of Jo for years; I was an avid listener of her Radio 1 show when I was a teenager, and have followed her over to Radio 2, where she entertains me every evening as I do the washing-up. Now she was inviting me to be interviewed on her show, as well as to read an extract from the book. It’s the most nervous I’ve been in years, but the interview went really well (we discussed our mutual love of jigsaw puzzles; it was like chatting to an old friend) and I was able to dedicate a song to my grandma, who’d been struggling a bit during lockdown. My grandma stayed up past her usual bedtime of 8 o’clock to listen live, and hearing her name on the radio definitely brought a smile to her face. 

You’re getting banana bread with this one, as it was that stage of lockdown where *everyone* was making banana bread, just for something to do. I started to go a bit off-piste with mine, chucking in everything I could find. Tasty, though.

January 2021 – Lemon and Ginger Cheesecake 


My second novel was released! The Broken Raven, which is the sequel to The Good Hawk, came out on the 7th January 2021. 


Celebrating the publication of The Broken Raven

In the midst of another lockdown, the launch was a very different experience, but still enjoyable in its own way. The support I received from both friends and strangers online was totally overwhelming, with everyone rallying together to help spread the word. I celebrated with bucks fizz and a homemade lemon and ginger cheesecake (reverting back the experimental baking phase of Lockdown 1) and had an online book launch attended by over 200 people. 

Online book launch for The Broken Raven

Although I would have loved to celebrate with people in person, the online event meant people could join from across the world, and I had attendees from L.A. to Sri Lanka, New York to Tel Aviv. It’s strange to think I now have two books out in the world. Hopefully they’ll find their audience, even if it takes slightly longer than expected. In the meantime, I’m turning my attentions to the third and final book in the trilogy; I intend to make it an explosive finale.  


Originally from Bristol, Joseph Elliott studied English Literature and Drama at the University of Manchester, before doing an MA in performance at Central School of Speech and Drama. For the last twelve years, he has worked as an actor, predominantly in comedy and children’s television. He plays ‘Cook’ in the BAFTA-winning CBeebies series Swashbuckle, and is also the co-creator of CBBC’s Big Fat Like. In addition to acting, Joseph worked as a teaching assistant at Westminster Special Schools for over four years. Agatha, the heroine in The Good Hawk, was inspired by some of the incredible children he worked with during that time, particularly those with Down’s syndrome. A Sunday Times 'Book of the Year', The Good Hawk was described as 'Thrilling' by the New York Times and 'Gripping' by the Wall Street Journal. Set in a mythical version of Scotland, it is an epic fantasy adventure, which has been compared to Game of Thrones and Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series. His second novel, The Broken Raven, continues the trilogy and was released in January 2021. 



Twitter: @joseph_elliott 

Instagram: @joseph_elliott3 

Picture credits 

The Broken Raven front cover by Levente Szabo 

The Good Hawk front cover by Violet Tobacco  

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

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