Creating lasting change: AOI interview with Aimée Felone director of Knights Of

Meet Aimée Felone co-director of Knights of Publishing house launched October 2018. Knights Of Publishing specialise in inclusive commercial children’s publishing based in heart of Brixton, London.

Online they run the #BooksMadeBetter tag, they are actively involved in inclusive education through Pathways Into, and have successfully run multiple crowdfunding campaigns to launch a public shop – as well as continue trading during lockdown. They were featured on BBC news on initial launch as a temporary pop-up in Brixton Market, and have since captured hearts by championing a wide range of books that are inclusive and representative.

In this article Aimée generously shares her advice to for those looking to enter into children’s publishing – and invites us to learn more about Knights Of and Round Table Books pictured below.

Brixton shop, with Aimee Felone

Please can you tell us a little bit about Knights Of and Round Table Books?

Knights Of exists to publish inclusive children’s books from as many diverse voices as possible. We don’t think what we do should be seen as revolutionary or even ground-breaking but given the dearth of diverse voices in the market, we’re unique in that our entire publishing house is centred around this mission.

Round Table Books is our sister company – it’s our Brixton based children’s bookshop that is committed to stocking diverse children’s books only. Since our initial pop-up in 2018 till now, the bookshop has been active in promoting authors, illustrators and creators that create books that put characters from diverse backgrounds at the centre of their work.

Knights Of team

What advice would you give to any illustrator looking to move into publishing?

Read as much as possible – pick up books that are in the top 10 of the area you’re trying to break into (picture books, illustrated fiction etc) and learn what seems to be working. Don’t change your style to fit into the industry mould instead see how you can interpret the trends in your own style.

In your eyes, what formula makes a successful illustrated book?

Illustrations that add to the story and bring the characters and world they live in alive make some of the best illustrated books. There is no “secret formula” or one size fits all method – authenticity and creativity have to go hand in hand to create something that children love.

What have you learned from Covid-19 lockdown and have you got any ‘unprecedented times’ tips for illustrators working day-to-day?

Don’t feel the pressure to create – we’re very literally living in the midst of a global pandemic. If things aren’t going smoothly or you’re feeling creatively blocked, try and remind yourself of the things that made you fall in love with illustrating. It could be a particular book, animation or even place that reminds you – tap back into that and you feel inclined to create, do!

Reading through your Books Made Better blog – we’re inspired by Nicole Miles reimagining of classics. What advice would you give to any illustrator reimagining a book to be published though KO?

Retelling’s are an opportunity to consider a book from a modern perspective – always interrogate if the story you’re reimagining would benefit from a modern day setting or different diverse perspective and what gives you the authority to re-write this story. Representation should never feel as though it’s an afterthought, or as though it’s been shoved in awkwardly to a pre-existing story.

At its very inception, Knights Of is addressing a need for lasting change to the Publishing Industry. How can other publishers learn from the diversity and equality movement? And how can others support your initiative?

KO has always held up a mirror on itself when it comes to matters of representation – does our team represent the books we’re trying to publish? Do we commission not just authors and illustrators from diverse backgrounds, but do we find freelancers, marketeers, PR teams that are striving to make the industry more representative? KO is only successful if we’re authentic in our efforts to uplift and champion the voices which are often overlooked in this industry. When it comes to advice for other publishing houses, I would urge them to ask these same questions daily, to take a look around their office and consider how their efforts are making change beyond optical allyship.

Have you got a new project in the works that you would like to share?

Such is the way of publishing that we have to keep secrets about everything exciting. We have some amazing new writers that have joined the KO family and are about to make their debut in new spaces of our list – spaces that we could have only dreamed of inhabiting back when we launched. More from us soon!

 

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Round table books shop is located in Brixton Village market, it is currently open Tue-Fri 11-4 pm located: Brixton Village, 97 Granville Arcade, Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8PS.

You can purchase books online via their online shop: www.roundtablebooks.co.uk

Support them on social media via Twitter and Instagram 


30th July 2020
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