ABIOLA BELLO - BIO
Hey! My name is Abiola Bello or sometimes known as 'A. Bello' for some of my books. I'm a middle-grade and YA author. I'm Nigerian and was born and raised in London, Stoke Newington (Hackney), North London to be exact. I wrote my first novel at aged 8, where I fought monsters and dragons daily and was first published at aged 12 for a poem I wrote in school called 'Fireworks.' This was based on a group of boys setting off fireworks outside my all girls secondary school as we lined up for lunch. It was terrifying!
I 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!). I grew up on DragonBall Z, X-Men comics and the Attitude Era of WWE (back then it was WWF) and wanted to read books like that but couldn't find one, so I wrote one. I'm really passionate about writing books that are diverse and inclusive of all people. I believe everyone should be able to see themselves in books.
My English teacher told me I should be an author back when I was secondary school after she read a short story I wrote. I remember asking, 'Is this a real job?" I mean I'm Nigerian! Publishing is not a thing. When she told me it was, I knew that's all I wanted to be.
My book journey has been a rollercoaster. I was studying Creative Writing at uni and realised they were not giving me all of the tools to really make it in this industry. l left my third year to figure out this publishing world for myself and I can honestly say 90% off publishing I learnt myself. Back in 2010 no-one was looking for a Black author writing about a Black warrior who was destined to save the world. I was definitely ahead of my time. I did get an agent 6 months after I self-published the first ever Emily book (if you have the purple cover you're a real one) but the book deals were meh so I kept pushing my book.
It didn't stop me though. I pushed that book so hard, left my agent, started up a diverse publishing house and we re-published Emily and launched it at Stoke Newington Literary Festival with hundreds of kids! After years of hard work, prayer and multiple producers wanting to adapt Emily (but that's another conversation) it paid off! In 2020 I signed to The Bent Agency and am represented by the amazing Gemma Cooper.
I've been fortunate enough to receive rave reviews for my debut book Emily Knight I am as well as success with my Emily Knight Warriors pop-up book.
My Emily Knight series has been featured top 40 Magical Realist Fiction for Young Adults, top 100 Coming of Age bestselling book for Young Adults and the top 100 Children's Superhero Action & Adventure bestselling books. The books in order - Emily Knight I am, Emily Knight I am...Awakened, Emily Knight I am...Becoming.
Emily Knight I am...Awakened was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019, finalist for The People's Book Prize 2019 and won London's Big Read 2019.
I am one of the writers in a A Very Merry Murder Club, published by Farshore. A number 1 bestseller and Waterstones November Children's Book of the Month!
Then on September 28th 2021, Simon & Schuster fell in love with my rom-come Love In Winter Wonderland! I got a 6 figure deal for 3 books. What a dream! The years of hard work had paid off. My debut YA book Love In Winter Wonderland is out now. This book means so much to me as this was the last book I told my dad about and I wrote it as I was grieving. Also published in German, Polish and the US!
My new book is another Christmas rom-com that I had so much fun writing. Only For The Holidays is out now! A city girl and country boy - what could go wrong?
I've also edited three anthologies for young writers called The Originals, Gen Alpha-Z and Daydreamers which are available to purchase via Hashtag Press
Hashtag Press won The People's Book Prize 2019 Best Publishing House. I have appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine, Female First, The Mirror, BBC1XTRA to name a few.
On 13th October 2023 I won the Black British Business Awards in Arts and Media Rising Star for Hashtag Press.
On the 26th March 2018, I was announced as the winner of the Trailblazer Award 2018 which is ran by The London Book Fair. I'm the first black person to win! I was longlisted for Nivea #BringItt30. I also was one of the Society of Young Publishers mentors for three years.
As part of London's Big Read I held a free series to empower women in publishing and female authors called Girls Can Do Anything with special guest speakers including literary agents and best selling authors.
I was on the advisory group for World Book Day UK and am now chairing lots of great book events for The London Book Fair, Waterstones and the National Literary Trust to name a few.
If you want to book me for an event, a school event or to critique your manuscript do get in touch!