A Q&A with A. Bello

What inspired you to write this book?

As a a kid and a teenager, there wasn’t any books for my age group that had a strong female character. If they were a main character, they were very dependent on men. There definitely wasn’t any characters of girls that looked like me!

I also grew up watching DragonBall Z, X-Men and WWE and I just wanted to read what I liked to watch. I’m obsessed with powers and the idea of being more than what meets the eye.

What can we expect from you in the future?

More books for young people that show strong diverse characters

Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?

I usually do a pop up blog every August and it’s a side story featuring one of the characters from the Emily Knight books. I’ve done 4 so far  and they always seem to go down well. It also pushed me to think of the back story of the character in more depth but it all depends if I have a book out that year. Sometimes I don’t have time to write one.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Emily Knight I am…Awakened?

Emily Knight is a powerful teenage warrior who has lived with her godparents since she was a child. She is the youngest child of the legendary Knight family and her father is the strongest and most famous warrior in the world. Emily is rich and privileged but  she can’t control her strong powers. In the second book I am…Awakened, there’s a threat of war and you really see her become more of a leader despite how scared she is to battle in this potential war.

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?

The main thing I wanted to show was a young girl that can fight even better than the boys and a black girl that wasn’t from the ghetto, in a gang etc but she actually lives in luxury. I didn’t want the book to be about race or hair. Emily has normal teenage issues and she just happens to be black.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I really enjoy writing the dynamics of the friendships between Emily Knight, Michella Kinkle, Wesley Parker and Jason Notting. They fight and throw shade at each other but they still love each other so much and push each other to be great.

How did you come up with the title of your first novel?

I wanted my characters name in the title because it’s centred around her and I liked the I am… concept because I wanted to reader to figure out who Emily is. Plus the first book is really about the character learning and accepting who she is

Who designed your book covers?

The first edition of Emily Knight I am was designed by Giles Greenfield. He actually did Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, first edition cover. The second edition of I am  and Emily Knight I am…Awakened was designed by the power team of Alexandra Artigas and Jem Butcher.

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

My latest book is my first YA commercial fiction book and I found it so hard! I didn’t expect it to be so challenging. I guess I’m a fantasy girl at heart. I wrote the story about eight times because I couldn’t decide on what perspective to write from. I finally got it together

If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

My book is set in England and it’s very diverse. There’s not much diversity in film over here so I couldn’t think who would play Emily but I would love John Boyega to play Emily’s rebellious brother, Lox and Idris Elba to play the legendary Thomas Knight.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Emily Knight I am…Awakened is nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019 and is shortlisted for London’s Big Read 2019. Yay!

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

My favourite part is any scene where Emily and her brother Lox interact. Just their back and forth as siblings is fun to write and all the battle scenes, where I can throw in some crazy punches and fireballs.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Ooh this is a good one. If I could spend time with any character, I think it would be Lox Knight. I would get him to show me Legend’s Village, where he grew up and all the spots he went to when he ran away.

Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.

The Emily Knight I am series is a must read because it has a bit of everything! Strong female characters, great friendships, kids that can kick some serious butt, diversity and inclusion, vivid battles and also real challenges in life – relationships, not feeling good enough, being brave when you don’t want to be. Everyone will be able to see themselves in this series.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

My latest book Beats, Love and high top trainers is currently with my agent under submission. We’ve had great interest so fingers crossed!

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