A Teesside University lecturer and acclaimed children’s author is dedicating her new book to her daughter and is determined for her to see a diverse range of characters at the forefront of adventure novels.
Gabrielle Kent, Senior Lecturer in Computer Games Development at Teesside University, is to publish her latest children’s novel, Knights and Bikes, in August.
Based on the video game of the same name, it is a tale of friendship, mystery and adventure set on an ancient Cornish island. The book tells the story of Demelza and her new best friend Nessa who set out to solve the curse of the Penfurzy Knights.
Gabrielle says she is dedicating Knights and Bikes to her daughter, Ashoka, who is mixed race.
One of the reasons Gabrielle was delighted to be asked to write the book is that Nessa, one of the two main characters, is of Asian descent. Gabrielle believes that Asian children, like Ashoka, will be able to see themselves reflected positively in the character.
“I want Ashoka to see Asian characters starring in novels, so it was wonderful to be able to write this story for her,” she explained.
“It is so important for all children to see characters that they can identify with in the media they consume. It gives them confidence and helps them find a voice and role models.
“Accurate portrayals also benefit other children by breaking down stereotypes and misconceptions.”
Already an acclaimed writer, Gabrielle is the author of the Alfie Bloom series published by Scholastic UK. Her work has been published in countries around the world, including America, France, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
She has also worked in and around the computer games industry for over twenty years and this latest venture has given her the opportunity to combine her passion for games with her love of writing.
Knights and Bikes will be the first title by independent publishers Knights Of, launched in 2017 by Aimée Felone and David Stevens. The pair previously worked at Scholastic but set up their own company to bring new voices to children’s publishing.
BAFTA winning Rex Crowle, who developed the original video game alongside Moo Yu, will illustrate the novel.
Gabrielle said: “I love the philosophy behind Knights Of and I am honoured to be writing their first novel.
“As a games-loving, comics geek who spent the early 80s loading games from cassette tapes and collecting bread tags for the spokes of my BMX, this was a dream project.
“Breathing life into Rex’s vibrant character designs for Demelza, Nessa and Captain Honkers allowed me to revisit my own childhood where adventure lurked around every corner.”
Publisher Aimée Felone said: “I knew there was something special about this book from the very first page. It isn’t every day you get to see two girls at the forefront of an adventure story.
“We are hugely excited for Gabrielle to be the first author on the Knights Of list.”