“Emily Knight is a teenage warrior who comes from a legendary warrior family so she is destined to be a hero”
As a change from my usual monthly book review, I have an interview with Middle Grade and Ya author, Abiola Bello, this month, about her book series, Emily Knight, I Am…
Abiola is co-founder of The Author School and Hashtag Press. In addition, she founded The Lil’ Author Skool in 2016. This not for profit London based organisation encourages young people to read and write, with the aim of giving them access to free and affordable opportunities.
The Lil’ Author Skool’s popular The little BIG Book Competiton is renowned world wide and is currently open for entries for 2019, from 5-21 year olds. Find out more here.
When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was 8 years old. I was obsessed with the Babysitters Club series so would write my own version with me and my friends. I never wrote thinking I was going to become a writer but when I was in year 7, my teacher told me I should be a writer after reading my creative writing stories.
Can you tell us a little bit about Emily Knight, I am… and how you got it published?
I grew up watching anime especially Dragon Ball Z and X-Men and I wanted to read something that I wrote. Emily Knight is a teenage warrior who comes from a legendary warrior family so she is destined to be a hero but she doesn’t want to be. As strong as Emily is, she has no control over her huge power and she feels the weight of carrying the Knight family name.
I had self-published Emily Knight, I am… when I was 23 after trying to secure an agent for years. Funnily enough, 6 months later I got signed by an agent. I was offered multiple book deals over the years but they never seemed to be the right fit. One was a great deal by a big publishing house, but shortly after, they made most of the children staff redundant! I was then offered a three book deal, but turned that down. Then another deal came along that I was happy with, but then I started my own publishing house Hashtag Press. My business partner said we had to trial a book which was mine! So in the end I decided to do a second edition of Emily Knight, I am… under Hashtag – that came out great! Following this, we published book 2, Emily Knight I am…Awakened a few months later. I did a book launch for I am…Awakened in Waterstones that sold out and now my book is nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019 and shortlisted for London’s Big Read. Book 3 is out 2020.
What inspired you to write this novel?
There wasn’t much depth behind it. The book came out way ahead of the whole diversity curve so I am really happy that I was able to foresee that there should be books with lead black characters.
What advice would you give to other young authors?
Read as much as possible. Read everything and write. The more you write the better you do get. There are loads of writing comps for young writers. I even do one called The little BIG Book Comp and the winning stories get published. Enter these competitions and push yourself.