Knights Of is to publish a YA novella by Queenie author Candice Carty-Williams.
Aimed at readers aged 13 and over, Empress & Aniya follows two teenage girls from different backgrounds, who accidentally cast a body swap spell on their 16th birthday. Empress is from a single parent household and lives on an estate that she has learned to love, while Aniya’s parents are in high-profile jobs and have given her a life that she can often take for granted. Described as south London’s answer to "Freaky Friday", Empress & Aniya is a moving portrayal of the importance of real friendship and the ups and downs of being a teenager.
The indie publisher will release the book on 7th October as a small-format novella, backed by a creative marketing campaign. World rights were acquired from Jo Unwin at JULA.
In a joint statement, Aimée Felone, co-founder of Knights Of, and editorial director Eishar Brar said: “We are completely overjoyed to be bringing Empress & Aniya to the world. As a south London-based publisher, Candice’s characters are incredibly familiar to us, both in terms of place and people. Candice is a phenomenal writer, and her craft at pulling on the heartstrings of her readers has been beautifully brought to the YA space. Working with her on this, and co-editing together, has been a dream! We are so excited for readers, especially teenage girls, to get their hands on it.”
Carty-Williams' debut Queenie (Trapeze) won Book of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2020. It was longlisted for the Women’s Prize, and was shortlisted for the Waterstones, Foyles and Goodreads book of the year in 2019, as well as being selected as Blackwell’s Debut of the Year.
In 2016, Carty-Williams created and launched the Guardian and Fourth Estate BAME Short Story Prize, the first inclusive initiative of its kind in book publishing. She was the Guardian Review books columnist for 2019-20 and has written for the Guardian, i-D, Vogue International, the Sunday Times, BEAT Magazine, Black Ballad and more. She has sold 153,439 copies for £1.17m through Nielsen BookScan UK, with Queenie on 34,936 copies sold in hardback and 115,317 copies sold in paperback (excluding lockdown weeks).
Commenting on her new book, Carty-Williams said: “Once I started to see the impact of Queenie, I quickly gathered that it was sort of vital to speak to young adult readers too. Knights Of was the perfect way to do this, and as soon as I started writing Empress and Aniya, their lives were already so fully drawn to me. Empress in particular, an intelligent and inquisitive girl who has always been held back by the world she’s been born into. But also Aniya, the naïve but supportive friend who hasn’t yet learned what life is like when you don’t have something as simple to her as money. Their friendship, and the need for them to step into the other’s shoes, speaks to what happens when we start to grow up and eventually begin to understand the world around us.”