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Through her writing, multi-award winning Leicestershire author A.M Dassu is passionate about empowering young people, encouraging empathy and challenging stereotypes within society.

Her latest novel, ‘Fight Back’, was released last month and is already enjoying great success on the children’s literature circuit.

A.M Dassu is a woman of passion and conviction – a woman with a strong heart, a strong mind and a strong voice, which she puts to great use in her inspiring, and thought-provoking books.

Her debut novel, Boy Everywhere, enjoyed massive success and a string of accolades when it was released in 2020, including being named as one of the Guardian’s ‘Best New Children’s Books’. It was picked up by Waterstones and is currently used as a curriculum text in schools across the country.

Picture: A.M Dassu

Although it is aimed at children aged 10+, the book and its poignant message has been embraced by adults as old as 80.

‘Fight Back’, the follow up which was released last month, is already making great strides towards enjoying similar success, after being named Independent Bookshop’s ‘Book of the Month’ and being included once again on a list of one of the Guardians ‘Best New Picture Books’.

Although A.M Dassu admitted to feeling nervous ahead of its release (due to the success of its predecessor), she is now looking forward to seeing how ‘Fight Back’ is received and interpreted by young readers across the country.

“There was anticipation for it, which made me quite nervous – the question of whether it will live up to the expectation of the first”, she told Pukaar.

“When ‘Boy Everywhere’ came out, it was wild, but sort of terrifying at the same time because you don’t expect the debut to do that well”, she explained.

“However now the second one’s out there, I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s received and what people take from it.

“I love the feedback, I love speaking to kids and hearing new takes on the books”, she added.

“They’ll get something from it that I didn’t even intend, and as a writer it’s really interesting”.

‘Fight Back’ follows Aaliyah, a 13-year-old muslim girl who ‘hits rock bottom’ following a terrorist attack in her area, which fuels racial tensions and leads to her being bullied at school.

However, after speaking to others, Aaliyah soon realises that other young people from different backgrounds also struggle with their identity, and she finds strength in unity – enough strength to speak out by the end of the story.

“It is a book about finding your identity, fighting for it, and not allowing others to define you”, said A.M Dassu, who hopes that the book will empower young people, and make them feel less alone.

“With ‘Fight Back’, I would love someone to come back to me and say, ‘do you know what, because of this book, I came out and said “this is who I am”, she revealed.

A.M Dassu is someone who is positive about using her voice to change people’s perceptions, and also to encourage other aspiring authors to pursue their own ambitions.

Although she had a passion for writing from an early age, it wasn’t until 2015, at the age of 35 when she actually decided to take the plunge and embrace her own.

As a younger woman, A.M Dassu opted to study economics and management at university, feeling that a career in writing was something of a long shot.

However, after helping a friend out with some online copyrighting duties, she caught ‘the bug’ and remembered that she really enjoyed it.

The rest, as they say, is history.

She began writing a popular blog, which lead to her submitting articles to America’s Huffington Post.

In January 2015, her first article was published on the platform and she then became a featured writer.

“My first post made the first page alongside Barack Obama and Lenny Henry, which was really weird!” said the author.

“It was later that year that I evolved from blog posts, and started writing picture books. Then I moved to my first novel, after discovering that it’s actually harder to get an agent when you’re writing picture books”, she revealed.

“So I gave it a go, and here we are – Boy Everywhere was born!”

Asked about her success, A.M Dassu says that she still finds it hard to believe the critical acclaim she has received in such a relatively short space of time.

“When you write a book, your only hope is that a few people will read it. My dream was that it would get discussed in schools, but I had zero expectations of what would actually happen”, she said.

“My advice for aspiring authors is not to give up. It’s a very difficult journey- it’s very, very competitive but the only difference between a published author and a person who didn’t get published is that they gave up” she added.

“It’s hard, but I literally have my dream job now and I wouldn’t change it for the world!”

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