Emily Knight I Am....
Emily Knight Series Book 1
by A. Bello
Genre: YA, MG Fantasy
Emily Knight I AM... has elements of grittiness that is more mature than other fantasy books. As well as being laugh out loud funny, the characters are real, complicated and relatable. A. Bello pushes the boundaries by breaking the conventions in this diverse, absorbing novel.
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Emily slipped the necklace into her jeans pocket. She continued to look at the other displays, gradually filling up her pockets with jewellery.
“Excuse me, but you’re banned from this shop.”
Emily recognised the chubby blonde lady, today wearing a pink knitted dress, who was frowning at her. She had caught Emily shoplifting twice over the past few months. Some of the customers stopped and stared. One of them pulled out their camera phone.
Emily shrugged her shoulders. “Am I? Cool. I’ll leave.”
She turned to go, but the lady grabbed her arm tightly.
“Hey!” Emily said clenching her fists.
“Aren’t you forgetting something? That jewellery hasn’t been paid for.”
“I ain’t got nothing,” Emily spat, unclenching her fists and a small fire flame flickered in the middle of it. “So take your fat hands off me.”
The lady quickly released her when she saw the flame.
“Right. Ahmed,” she called over to the security guard, who winked at the woman with the pram.
He marched over to Emily, shouting codes into his walkie-talkie.
“Be careful, she’s one of them,” the lady whispered to the security guard.
“One of what?” Emily said angrily, as the flame turned red.
“Do you want to empty your pockets, miss?”
“Like I told her,” Emily said, through gritted teeth. “I ain’t got nothing.”
The security guard raised his eyebrows and pointed at her pocket. A flower pendent was hanging out of it. Emily’s flame rapidly disappeared.
“Let’s go downstairs,” the blonde lady said, when she saw the customers staring. “I believe you know the way.”
She stared coldly at Emily, who rolled her eyes and allowed herself to be led towards the stairs.
Emily placed her forehead on the wooden table, listening to the clock tick. A policeman next to her tutted and shuffled some papers beside her. Emily looked up and saw him reading the newspaper. The headline read KNIGHT’S FREE SPREE IN HARRODS and underneath was a picture of her, holding Harrods shopping bags and six security guards chasing after her. Emily snickered. The policeman looked at her and turned the paper over, so he could see the headline.
“Stealing isn’t funny. It’s a serious offence.”
“So I’ve been told. That’s the good thing about being rich, you can buy your way out of anything.”
The policeman put down the paper and looked sternly at Emily. “Why didn’t you pay for the jewellery? Or the things from Harrods? It would be petty change to you.”
Emily stared at her nails, checking to see if her red nail polish was ruined. “Didn’t feel like it.”
The policeman picked up his paper. “Spoilt brat,” he muttered.
Emily hit the front of the paper, so that it fell out of the policeman’s hand.
“I don’t care what you, or anyone thinks!”
“When I get a hold of that girl!”
The office door opened and a skinny, scraggy-faced woman with long, oily brown hair and small grey eyes stormed into the room.
“You!” Sally Meran screamed at Emily, who looked unfazed.
“How many times do the police have to call me because of your stealing? If your father could see you—”
“Well, he can’t,” Emily cut in, rolling her thick dark hair into a messy bun. “They’ve got back all the jewellery, so can we go?”
“Do you even know how wrong stealing is?” Sally asked in disbelief, as she walked towards her.
“I’ve heard it’s pretty bad,” Emily said, smiling.
“Don’t you be smart with me, young lady,” Sally snapped.
“Ms, she was caught with two hundred pounds’ worth of jewellery,” the policeman informed Sally, whose mouth dropped open.
“Which is nothing to the thousands I almost got from Harrods,” Emily said.
“Enough!” Sally roared, pointing at Emily. “Just be quiet!”
Emily sighed and placed her head back on the table as she listened to Sally apologising to the policeman. That was the problem with getting caught. She always had to listen to the same lecture. Sally complaining that she was at her wits’ end with what to do with her, then her husband Michael
would say that they were letting Thomas down and they had to be stricter on her. Then Jenny Li, her counsellor, was called and Emily had to talk to her about her issues.
Emily didn’t feel she had issues. She knew she was an angry girl, but who wouldn’t be? Her mother had died, her brother had run away causing her father to go and chase after him, so she had no family around her. Emily had a constant ache in her heart that didn’t go away whenever she thought of her family. She often wondered if her dad loved Lox more? Or if he would have left Lox to find her? Jenny
said she shouldn’t think such thoughts and of course her dad loved her, but it was hard to tell when he wasn’t around.
Sally and Michael were her godparents, but also fostered four children who lived with them in her family mansion. They loved that Emily was a warrior and constantly hassled her to show off her powers. They thought she was cool because she was the daughter of Thomas Knight, the leader of the Five Warriors.
The Five Warriors were some of the strongest warriors to exist; Thomas Knight, Roberta Taniana, Hubert Jenkins, Cecil Archinia and Niles Thompson.
They built their reputation on defeating evil warriors, using their powers for good, saving lives and winning worldwide warrior competitions. They were treated like rock stars by warriors and non-warriors. Boys loved Roberta Taniana because she was beautiful and strong and girls loved Niles Thompson because he was sixteen and gorgeous, but Thomas Knight was the most popular amongst everyone. He was the only warrior in the world to battle the evil Neci and win.
Neci was notorious for winning battles and killing her opponents. Her goal was to be the strongest warrior in the world and she didn’t care who she had to kill to succeed. She had famously killed Cecil Archinia and Niles Thompson in the same battle that Thomas had won. The deaths of Cecil and Niles eventually ended the heart broken Five Warriors.
After her first loss, Neci had fled. No one knew where and no one hoped to see her again. Thomas had gone down in history, for being one of the greatest warriors that had ever lived.
Emily thought back to the day of when she had got her powers. She was seven years old. She ran crying into Sally and Michael’s room, screaming as smoke surrounded her hands. She felt like her flesh was burning off. Michael had grabbed the bottle of water by his bedside table and thrown it at Emily. The water sizzled as it hit her hands and the smoke disappeared. Sally grabbed Emily’s hands and was in disbelief to see that they were fine with no scars.
After that night, Emily had felt different. She felt stronger, faster, her senses were heightened and her body felt lighter. She wasn’t surprised by the changes to her body, or even that they appeared earlier than the average age (warriors usually received powers when they turned thirteen) because Lox and
Thomas’s powers had also come early. But she didn’t expect her powers to come and go as they pleased. One minute she could barge through walls, making them c rash down around her, then the next minute she would knock herself out as she charged at the wall and it stayed solid.
Emily hated that she was constantly compared to Thomas and Lox. She hated that she had no control over her powers. She hated that the kids at school treated her differently out of fear or adoration.
Sally refused to send Emily to private school like the other warrior children in the neighbourhood, for fear that she would end up spoilt. Instead, Emily was sent to public school, but she stood out like a sore thumb. She was harassed with questions about her family, money, even about her famous neighbours to the point where Emily begged Sally to fire the driver and maids and to get rid of the Aston Martin, just so she could fit in a little bit more. But what Emily hated the most was when everyone assumed that she was this brilliant, skilful warrior and she wasn’t.
It didn’t help that she lived in Legends Village. An exclusive neighbourhood where the residents were famous warriors. Everyone lived in five-storey mansions with an indoor swimming pool, cinema, training room and a zillion bedrooms. She was surrounded by excellence. She lived next door to Roberta Taniana and Hubert Jenkins from the Five Warriors, so the press camped in Legends Village.
They would be outside her door waiting for a story, hoping that they had found the next ‘legend’ in her.
One time, she took her little foster sisters, Rosy Lang- Sheen and Yvonne Saunders, to the park and they were immediately ambushed by the press. Bright lights flashed at them and the girls started to cry. Emily had felt an anger rise up in her and before she knew it, most of the paparazzi were on the floor, knocked out. She didn’t know how she had done it, but since then, she had a reputation as a dangerous brat.
Emily Knight I Am...Awakened
Emily Knight Series Book 2
**Nominated for the 2019 Carnegie Medal!**
**Finalist for London's Big Read 2019!**
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She wrote her first novel at aged 8, where she fought monsters and dragons daily and was first published at aged 12 for a poem she wrote in school.
A. Bello wrote the first in the Emily Knight saga at aged 12, with the intention of filling in a gaping hole in children's fiction for an inspirational, strong, black female protagonist (who can fight like a man!)
A. Bello has received rave reviews for her debut book as well as success with her Emily Knight Warriors pop-up book. She is the founder of The Lil' Author School and co-founder of The Author School. The Author School was shortlisted for The Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2016.
A. Bello has appeared in Female First Magazine, The Mirror, BBC1XTRA to name a few.
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads
Hmm good question!I guess that I taught myself the publishing industry. I couldn't get an intern ship and I tried loads so decided to just figure it out. Now I have 2 publishing businesses and the author of 3 books, with 1 under submission
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
On a career level I am the first black person to have won The London Book Fair Trailblazer Award in 2018! No-one was more shocked than me when they announced my name
What are some of your pet peeves?
Someone who is all talk and no action
Where were you born/grew up at?
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Jumping out of a plane. I wouldn't do it for fear of dying so...
Who is your hero and why?
Beyonce! She is everything. She screams hustler and I just love that she represents when you work hard, you can have it all.
What are you passionate about these days?
Diversity and Inclusion in books and film
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Passionate, creative, funny, loud and hardworking
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
For sure The Emily Knight I am series - it has everything you need! Adventure, powers, kick ass girls
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A lioness because she really runs the whole jungle, doesn't she?
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!
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven, One of Us is Lying by Karen M.McManus, Turtles All The Way Down by John Green, Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, Harry Potter by JK Rowling, Life Swap by Jane Green, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella, A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown and the Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging series by Louise Rennison
What book do you think everyone should read?
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is one of the most important books written.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I was eight but it was just for fun. I got serious maybe when I was about 12.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
They usually come to me at the same time, just before I start writing.
Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is definitely one of my careers and I feel very fortunate that it is
What do you think about the current publishing market?
I think it's slowly evolving. Publishing is a very slow industry and for me the whole discussion of diversity is pretty strange. I come from a dance background which is so diverse so coming into publishing, which isn't is probably something I'll never get used to. There are now loads of books with strong female characters but the diverse side still needs some work.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read everyday. Nothing beats a good book. I love chick lit!! It's my guilty pleasure. I really like psychological thrillers and YA fiction.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Depends on my mood! Sometimes I just need to focus and need complete silence and other times the silence is stifling and I'll play some Hip-Hop as I write. For some reason it doesn't distract me at all. Rapping along can help! Like right now I'm listening to Travis Scott 'Sicko Mode' and I'm convinced it's helping me write faster.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I have a bad habit of having multiples at a time but training myself to be more disciplined and just focus on one. It's so tempting when a book is challenging to write and you get this new idea and you just want to get stuck in. I think most writers are guilty of that.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Harry Potter for obvious reasons! I did fall in love with Holding Up The Universe as soon as I read it.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Computer. I used to write pen to paper and then would type it up but my writing is so rubbish it would take me forever to work out what the hell I was writing.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
I never even thought of being a writer until my English teacher told me to be. My mum was training me to be a tennis player or a lawyer. I think being a writer is the best choice for me. I think I'm bringing something a bit different and I feel like Emily Knight ticked the boxes of diversity and a strong female lead, ahead of the curve, way before it became a discussion.
Advice they would give new authors?
Your first book may not be the break out star and that's okay! Keep writing and perfecting your craft. Your book will end up where it needs to be
Describe your writing style.
Hmm I don't really know! I've been told I write dialogue well like it's real and I create vivid imagery and I'm funny!
What makes a good story?
I would say relatable characters. Most stories aren't original but the characters make the story.
What are they currently reading?
A Spark of Light by Jodi Picolut
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I kind of write an overall blurb on what the book is about and then just go for it. As I'm writing more ideas develop and I usually have a list of the main characters with their description, flaws and how they link to my main character.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Trying to be the next big thing. Trends change so much in publishing. Remember the Twilight era? Just write what you would love to read. Also most authors think they want to be traditionally published but then don't want to give up their control of the book. Research as there are so many ways to get published and maybe not all of your books are right for the traditional market
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I don't think either of them. I write what I want to read and just what I feel like I'm missing from books I've read.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
You've got this girl
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Oh gosh it can take me up to a year. Want to try and do it quicker as I want to hit 7 books before I'm 40. I reached my goal of 3 books by 30 so I'm upping the stakes.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
A million percent. Best advice is just to leave it for a week and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Usually in that week break, I'll think of the perfect idea to get the story to move forward.
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