A. M. Dassu was born and raised in the heart of England. She wrote her first set of poems and a short story when she was eight years old. Aged ten, she set up a creative club and planned exciting art sessions for her friends in the local park. She always dreamed about publishing a book, but thought it was something she wouldn’t be able to do easily (and she wasn’t wrong there!).
You could say that A. M. Dassu first embarked on her literary career at the age of eleven – she worked in her school library for five years, and loved being surrounded by books whilst helping her peers choose and check books out during lunchtimes. Of course spending her school week in a library wasn’t enough – as a teen she’d also visit the ‘huge’ Central Library in the city every Saturday to make sure she produced the most well researched homework – yes, she was a bit of a swot. She enjoyed English at secondary school and threw herself into character when reading out loud to her class. When she was fifteen years old, she played Juliet in the Romeo and Juliet school production and knew right then that literature and performing was her passion.
Despite this she went onto study broad based subjects at ‘A’ Level including Maths and chose not to pursue her English ‘A’ Level at university because she didn’t want to write an essay each week(!) She became a little laid back to say the least.
Much to her later regret, she studied Economics and pursued a career in management in the creative and education sectors. She continued to write poems and short stories in her free time. It was only after having her first child in 2006 that she began wishing she had pursued her love of writing and literature earlier in life.
Eight years ago, whilst writing some copy for a friend’s website, A. M. Dassu rediscovered her love of writing for an audience and set up a blog which was nominated for the UK Blog Awards in the same year.
Since then she has become a featured writer for The Huffington Post and has written for the Times Education Supplement. Her first piece for The Huffington Post was published on the front-page, alongside Barack Obama and Lenny Henry.
In 2015, A M Dassu wrote a picture book inspired by her son’s school friend. She started looking into publishing it and the rest is history!
In January 2017, she won the international We Need Diverse Books YA mentorship award and was also selected for the Writing East Midlands Mentorship to support her with her publishing goals.
In February 2019, she read a chapter from Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon to a big audience at the Southbank Centre in London, and was commissioned by Cheryl Klein to write additional material (sidebars) for a non-fiction book about Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus for Lee & Low in America (published in August 2019).
In December 2019 she was commissioned by Sarah Odedina to write a short story for SCOOP Magazine.
In February 2020, she became a director at Inclusive Minds, a unique organisation that provides services and expertise for authors and illustrators, publishing professionals, editors, librarians and teachers who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children’s literature.
In February 2021, Boy, Everywhere was given its first starred review, a Kirkus Star “one of the most coveted designations in the book industry, the Kirkus Star marks books of exceptional merit”, followed by one from Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly.
She is patron of The Other Side of Hope, a new print and online literary magazine, edited by immigrants and refugees which serves to celebrate the refugee and immigrant communities worldwide.
A. M. Dassu’s multi award-winning, internationally acclaimed debut middle grade novel, BOY, EVERYWHERE was noted as ‘One to Watch’ by The Bookseller, the UK’s definitive book industry magazine and website. And after just seven weeks of being published was chosen as one of The Guardian’s, Bookriot’s, Kirkus’s, Booklist’s, CLPE’s and BookTrust’s BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR. It also featured as one of The Guardian’s ‘Children’s Best New Novels’ on publication in October 2020 and on Amnesty’s ‘Books That Inspire Activism’ list, and was given coveted starred reviews by Kirkus, Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly for exceptional books and is also an American Library Association’s Notable Book.
It has received praise from authors, teachers, parents, and received five star reviews on websites such as Reading Zone, LoveReading4Kids and BookTrust and has been listed for 25 awards including the prestigious Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2021 and Carnegie Medal. It is the winner of The SCBWI Crystal Kite Prize 2021, The Little Rebels Award for Radical Fiction 2021, The Calderdale Book of the Year 2021, The Redhill Academy Trust Book Awards 2022 and The York Book Award 2022. It is a contemporary upper middle grade novel about a privileged 13-year-old boy from Syria who is forced to leave everything he owns and knows behind. It is a coming-of-age story of friendship, family, belonging and fighting for a better future. Boy, Everywhere is a story of privilege and looks at the refugee crisis from a completely new perspective, and through thirteen-year-old Sami’s eyes shows that we are all one cruel twist of fate away from becoming refugees — it can happen to anyone. In a world where we are told to see refugees as the ‘other’, this story will remind readers that ‘they’ are also ‘us’.
Her next novel, Fight Back, is an ‘Editor’s Choice’ in The Bookseller and a ‘Best Coming Soon Book’ at Waterstones. It is an empowering story about finding your identity and the courage to fight for it. An essential read to encourage empathy, challenge stereotypes, explore prejudice, racism, Islamophobia and inspire positive action. A story of hope, speaking up and the power of coming together in the face of hatred.
After living in London and Manchester, she is back living in the Midlands. She lives with her husband and three little cubs (not so little anymore), who are busy at school. This allows her to focus her mornings on writing fiction. Yippee!!!
A. M. Dassu firmly believes in philanthropy and in expressing individuality. She is a lover of good food, art, architecture and happiness. Oh and you may have noticed she also loves wearing hats!
Boy, Everywhere was published in the UK and commonwealth in October 2020 and in hardback in the US in April 2021. You can order it here.
Her next novel Fight Back is out in June 2022 in the UK and October 2022 in the US. Find out more about it and order it here.
She is represented by Julia Churchill at A M Heath Literary Agency.
⭐️Best New Children’s Novels, The Guardian
⭐️Starred review, Booklist
⭐️Starred review, Kirkus Reviews
⭐️ Starred review, Publishers Weekly
⭐️ Best Children’s Books of 2020, The Guardian
⭐️ Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2021, Shortlist
⭐️ Little Rebels Children’s Book Award for Radical Fiction 2021 Winner
⭐️ Calderdale Book of the Year, 2021
⭐️ SCBWI Crystal Kite 2021 Award Winner
⭐️ The Diverse Book Awards 2021, Shortlist
⭐️ American Library Association Booklist’s Top 10 MG Debut
⭐️One to Watch, The Bookseller
⭐️ BBC Novels that Changed the World, Author into Schools
⭐️ National Literacy Trust Connecting Stories Champion
⭐️Books that Inspire Activism, Amnesty International
⭐️Manchester launches Boy, Everywhere City Wide initiative
⭐️Empathy Lab 2021 Selection
⭐️LitFest Big Read Book
⭐️ Best Children’s Books of 2020, BookTrust
⭐️ Best Children’s Books of 2020, CLPE
⭐️ Best Children’s Book of 2020, Bookriot
⭐️ Shortlisted for 10 regional awards