Free tickets for young people at Brixton launch of top author’s book

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Candice Carty-Williams

Brixton is hosting the launch of bestselling author Candice Carty-Williams’ debut young adult novella, Empress & Aniya.

Free tickets for disadvantaged young people are available for the campaign’s showpiece launch at the Ritzy on Monday (11 October).

Empress & Aniya is a moving portrayal of the importance of real friendship. Candice says she wanted to write a book that spoke to teenagers directly and that would have spoken to her younger self, a book that reflected her life, her friends, and her story.

It follows two 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’s 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.

A warm, moving and funny portrayal of the importance of real friendship, Empress & Aniya explores the power in seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.

The launch campaign is run by local inclusive children’s publishers Knights Of (KO) with award-winning communications agency ed public relations and freelance marketer Ella Chapman.

It has been devised to centre young Black girls and specifically those living in South London where both Candice and Knights Of are based.

It includes partnerships with Brixton Village and Brixton-based charity Milk Honey Bees who have collaborated on an outdoor advertising campaign celebrating female friendship, in particular “real” teenage friendships.

The advance Candice receives for writing Empress & Aniya will be donated to Milk Honey Bees.

Banners (above) photographed by Aashfaria Anwar and featuring 13 girls from Milk Honey Bees aged 12+, plus founder Ebinehita Iyere with Candice, will be installed in Brixton Village from Monday (11 October), coinciding with the International Day of the Girl.

Additional banners designed by Marssaié, creative director at Knights Of, will showcase the book’s cover artwork.

Candice visited Round Table Books, the inclusion-led bookshop in Brixton Village launched and owned by Knights Of, to sign copies of Empress & Aniya on Thursday.

The headline launch event is at 4pm on Monday at the Ritzy.

It is supported by London City Hall’s Peer Outreach team, offering free tickets to disadvantaged young people from across the city.

Additional free tickets are available from the Black Ticket Project with all other ticket and book sales co-ordinated by Round Table Books. Regular tickets are available here.

Candice will be in conversation with multi-award-winning singer-songwriter, TV presenter, model, actor and writer, Jamelia, talking about writing for teenagers and what inspired Empress & Aniya.

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There will be a chance to ask questions at the end.

A further event featuring Candice in conversation with Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, a former editor of gal-dem magazine and now a senior staff editor at the New York Times, will take place on Saturday 23 October as part of the Southbank’s London Literature Festival. Tickets are available here.

Aimée Felone and Eishar Brar, co-editors of Empress & Aniya, said: “It was vital to us to centre Black teenage girls in this campaign, and we are so excited that we’ve achieved this with a deliberate and considered campaign, by working with ed PR and Ella Chapman.

“Reaching readers where they are has always been a key part of KO’s strategy, and it’s been a total joy to bring Candice, and Empress & Aniya, to those readers.”

Candice Carty-Williams said: “It’s been a total joy to see such a meaningful campaign be born from a story I wrote – and one I wrote about a topic very close to me.

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“This campaign will reach the readers I’ve written for, and beyond, and that really is all an author can ask for!”

Ebinehita Iyere, Founder of Milk Honey Bees, said: “We are so excited to be a part of a campaign that reflects everything we stand for.

“It’s a reminder of the importance of the friendships that the girls have, with each other and themselves, plus the strength of sisterhood.”

Milk Honey Bees is a creative and expressive safe space for Black girls to flourish and put H.E.R. (Healing, Empowerment and Resilience) first.

It is rooted in the creativity, celebration and liberation of Black girlhood by amplifying the voice and visibility of Black girls in all facets of life, opening doors that can often be closed to Black girls and ensuring that they are able to put both their Blackness and girlhood at the forefront, enabling them to discover not only their full potential, but also who they are.

“It’s more than just a charity, it’s a sisterhood, a family.”