Now that the whirling debut dust has settled, we invite Attiya Khan to talk about one thing she's learnt since becoming a published author.

It’s been over a year since my debut novel Ten Steps to Us was published and I can honestly say it was one of the most exciting years of my life. The range of things I have learnt over the past year has been invaluable, and I found I have acquired skills that I can use in other aspects of my life such as my day job as a GP. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to hold the physical book in my hand for the first time. It was almost like giving birth! I still refer to the book as my book baby. It was a childhood dream to get a book published so achieving that in my late forties was almost unreal. On publication day I posted my first Instagram live video. This in itself was a milestone as I hadn’t even heard of Instagram till the year before. This was where the junior doctors came in handy, teaching me everything I needed to know.

Attiya's Instagram post on publication day 

When the blog tour started, receiving the reviews was both exciting and nerve wracking in equal measure. The idea that people were reading my words and getting caught up in the characters that I had created was surreal.

Screenshot of the Ten Steps to Us blog tour 

I think the reality of my book being out in the public domain really hit when I did my first school visit. I’ve taught medical students before but never more than about six at a time, so it was really nerve-wracking talking to a group of over 100 Year 9s. I was so nervous that they wouldn’t ask any questions, but it was all right on the night as they say, and lots of questions were asked.


                   Twitter post of Attiya at Sydenham High Library 

Since that first nerve-wracking time I have done many more school visits, and it’s amazing how after doing it once your confidence grows. I now feel able to speak to large groups of people and engage in a free conversation and have a really good time doing it. This is something I could not have done a year or so ago. Two of my favourite visits were World Book Day at a school in Tower Hamlets and also visiting my old secondary school in Kent. The Year 7s in Tower Hamlets were so happy to see a female Muslim writer that represented them and were so enthusiastic, they made me feel like a rock star. It was also so lovely to go back to the place where I grew up, which had actually provided a lot of inspiration for the setting in my book.


Attiya at Bullers Wood School 

A selection of photographs from Attiya's presentations 

During the course of the year, I became more tech savvy and familiarised myself with different social media platforms. I had never really known how to use Twitter before but it was invaluable in forming networks with other authors and librarians, book bloggers, etc. Through Twitter, I was invited to be part of a Facebook group called UKYA books. This proved to be such a supportive community, and through them I got to promote my book in a number of ways. They ran various Instagram live videos where authors interview other authors. I was part of the Summer shorts programme and bookchain project and I also hosted an interview with some other authors on a romance panel. For a techphobe such as myself, it’s great to now have that confidence to be able to run an interview on various technical platforms. I was even part of a “pass the book” TikTok video which was something of a dream come true. We did a Waterstones panel in Cambridge which was a face to face event, and this has to be one of the highlights of my year. Another major highlight was taking part in YALC. To be part of the opening panel and have my own little station where people could get their books signed in the same place as all the Comic Con actors was totally surreal.


Images of Attiya at YALC

Now that the buzz of the first year is over, I just have to keep on writing. I’m halfway through book two and hope that I can keep the momentum going!

*Header Image: Shannon Ell
*Other images courtesy of Attiya Khan


Caroline Deacon lives in Edinburgh and is the author of several childcare books. She now writes MG and YA and is agented by Lindsay Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates, Edinburgh. Find her on Twitter and at


Anne Boyere is a member of the Words & Pictures editorial team.

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