Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Emily Knight I Am… Becoming by A. Bello

I am very happy to be taking part in the blog tour for Emily Knight I am… Becoming – the third powerful book in the Emily Knight series by A. Bello. This upper Middle Grade / Young Adult fantasy is action packed from the beginning to the very end, leaving the reader wanting more!

Fifteen-year-old Emily Knight is a girl who is not afraid to stand up for herself and her friends. They are a diverse group of elite warriors with unique powers and abilities. They must work as a team to survive and save life as they know it. As a young, black woman, Emily is a fantastic role model for all young people – she never gives up and stays true to herself no matter what happens.

Emily belongs to the legendary Knight family. Her father is one of the Five Warriors who have been battling the evil Neci for many years. Now, it is up to Emily and her friends to solve mysteries, enter the unknown and face intense danger in order to work out Neci’s next move and defeat her army. Through epic battles, pain and the risk of losing everything, Emily is determined to stay strong and fight. Fireballs, ice beams, kidnapping, teleportation and powerful energies combine to build a story of extremes: hot and cold, good and evil, love and hate, right and wrong. Emily must work out who she can trust and whether her mysterious powers are a curse or a gift. Can she step out of the shadow of her famous family and finally become the girl she is meant to be?

Thank you to A. Bello and Hashtag Press for this exciting book!

Interview with Abiola Bello, publishing entrepreneur and prize-winning author of the Emily Knight I Am… series

Q. Emily’s back – how do you feel about the release of the third book in the series after the growing success of the first two books?

“I feel scared lol. It is a bit terrifying but also exciting, like I can’t believe book three is almost here and I have just one more book to go in the series.”

Q. What can Emily fans expect from Emily Knight I Am… Becoming?

“It’s definitely darker than the other two. A lot of sacrifices are made in this book in the quest to defeat Neci. But the Knights are back together, which is fab.”

Q. What age range do your Emily books appeal to? Do you write for other ages?

“You kind of grow with Emily so the series goes from middle-grade to teen/YA as she gets older. I would say book 1 is 9-12, book 2 is 10-14 and book 3 is 12-16.”

Q. Your book features a young Black female as the lead character and the only face on the front covers… why is this so important and sadly, why does this seem to be so different to many of the other books out there for this age group?

“For me, I really wanted the reader to see the growth of Emily. In the first book, she is looking at her fireball in wonder, then in I am… Awakened she has a fireball but she is hiding and now in I am…Becoming, I wanted her to just stand gloriously in fire!

“There is an idea in publishing that book covers featuring Black or brown people don’t sell. I know that’s not true and I gravitate to books with Black or brown people on their covers and I know loads of readers do too.”

Q. You’re passionate about diversity and inclusion – what do you hope will happen to children’s/young teen publishing in the next 10 years? What part will you play in that?

“I would like to stop talking about it because it has become the norm. I will always write stories showcasing Black people in a positive light and creating opportunities for under-represented writers. I just hope others do the same and are consistent with it, not when it’s trendy or a hashtag has gone viral.”

Q. The Emily Knight series is described as fantasy fiction, but it’s in a real-world setting with the school, friendship circles and home situations that many children will be able to identify with – would you write a more ‘fantasy’ or dystopian world setting? What prompted you to combine the real world and fantasy elements into this series/

“I was really inspired by an anime called Dragon Ball Z and what I loved about it was that it was set in the real world but there happened to be people there who had powers. It was never explained how they had powers, they just did, and I loved it! I’ve never really thought about writing a more ‘fantasy’ setting but I would love to write a dystopian book one day.”

Q. If you had one message for your young readers right now, what would it be?

“Be unapologetically you.”

Q. Will there be any more books in the Emily Knight series? If so, can you tell us a little bit about them?

“There will definitely be one more to finish the ‘I am’ saga. I’m so excited to write book 4 with the big battle. Ah… it’s going to be epic! There’s room to do another series when Emily is older or even before Emily’s time but I’ll write it when I get a good concept that gets me excited.”

Q. Apart from Emily, who is your favourite character and why?

“I have two. Wesley Parker – he’s funny, sarcastic, his dynamic with Emily and Michella are always fun to write. And Lox Knight. Lox is the most complex character and to be honest sometimes even I don’t know what side Lox is on!”

Q. What did it feel like to win all those prizes? The Carnegie nomination, the London’s BIG Read win, and the Trailblazer Award? Does achieving these accolades help to motivate you?

“Amazing! It’s nice to be acknowledged in that way and to know what you’re doing is being seen and celebrated. I can be pretty naïve so I had never even heard of Trailblazers or Carnegie before I got nominated. It makes you think, okay I’m doing something right here, just keep going.”

Emily Knight I Am… Becoming by A. Bello, Hashtag Press, £7.99, paperback and ebook, available to buy in all good bookshops and online

Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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