Breaking all the book rules

Risking a stable publishing career, Aimée Felone took the leap to co-launch a new diverse publisher, Knights Of, which is shaking up stories for children

South Londoner Aimée is young, ambitious: the ideal poster-girl for promoting books that reflect inclusive stories including her own. Alongside her co-director David Stevens, they’ve launched Knights Of, a publisher of children’s books that seeks to support a greater range of authors and characters. It’s riding on a growing interest in books that rightly include more voices from BAME backgrounds – and with their first book announced called Knights and Bikes by Gabrielle Kent it’s just the start of their conquest in telling tales that really matter. 

Hi Aimée, congratulations on the launch of Knights Of! Tell us  why you thought it was needed

Knights Of grew out of the frustration of diversity and inclusion in publishing, and born out of wanting to do something. Not a temporary stop measure but to make a change: from the stories we publish to how we hire people and our everyday messages of inclusion.

How did you get Knights Of off the ground?

We took a risk. In March last year I left my editorial role at publisher Scholastic and took the leap! At the beginning, I relied on my own personal funds; I had quite a few sleepless nights. But I was confident, thanks to our financial backers, that we would be OK. Publishing is a risky business, and you can put all the work in the world into a book but there’s no guarantee of success. But I have no regrets. This is something I’m 100% passionate about.

“At the beginning, I was relying on my own personal funds; I had quite a few sleepless nights”

What did you like reading growing up?

I was a huge fan of Jacqueline Wilson and Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche. Yet I don’t think there was an author who looked like me growing up. I wonder what kind of impact it would have had if I had seen characters who reflected me.

Tell us about the books you plan to publish 

We’re not BAME publishers; we’re more than that. I want to stay away from more niche and issue-driven stories. Diverse does not necessarily mean “woe is me”, but it's more about a diverse range of characters including gender, social economic backgrounds and disability. We want to be as widespread as possible.

Submissions are open on the Knights Of website

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