Abiola Bello, a Trailblazer winner in 2018, shares her current view of things
My name is Abiola Bello and I wear a few hats! With Helen Lewis, we are co-directors of publishing house Hashtag Press and co-founders of the Author School. I am the founder of The Lil' Author Skool and run a popular short story competition for young writers called The little BIG Book Competition. I am also a children's/YA author; my books are the fantasy series Emily Knight I am and Emily Knight I am...Awakened.
I believe the publishing industry is slowly evolving. I am very passionate about having more diversity in children's/YA books. We are finally at a place where there are strong female leads in children's/YA books, but when my book Emily Knight I am came out in 2012, that wasn't the case. Now we need to have more books with Black and Asian leads that are not just about race or hair. I think publishers need to search for books where the main characters are from all different backgrounds, not just one because everyone wants to see themselves in a book.
There's a book called All About Mia by Lisa Williamson that shows this perfectly. The main character, Mia, is mixed race and her friends are White and Asian. But Mia being mixed race isn't really focused on in the book, and I love that!
The Trailblazer Award is important because it shows the industry that young people are very aware of the industry and are taking steps to change it for the better. For me, it shows that all these different platforms and all the work we put in are really making a positive difference. It's very easy for young people to get overlooked, especially in favour of those who have more experience; so it's very cool that the Trailblazer Award is targeted at under 30s.