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OWN IT! snaps up rights to debut novel by exciting new British voice JJ Bola

Crystal Mahey-Morgan at OWN IT! has won a keenly and closely contested auction to the very special debut novel ‘No Place to Call Home’ by JJ Bola, in a deal negotiated with Maria Cardona of Pontas Literary & Film Agency. Kinshasa-born (1986) and London-raised, JJ Bola is currently doing a MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, as a result of being one of the three recipients of the Kit de Waal Scholarship. With great characters and seamless prose, set between London and the Congo, No Place to Call Home is a tale of belonging, identity and immigration, of hope and hopelessness, of loss –not by death, but by distance – and, by no means the least, of love. JJ Bola is already a well-respected London poet who has built a strong reputation on an international stage (he currently holds the Oakland Poetry Slam title). He is also an educator as well as the creator of the increasingly popular adage ‘Hype your writers like you do your rappers’. Maria Cardona says, ‘At Pontas Agency we couldn’t be more delighted. JJ Bola is a very special writer with a unique voice. Crystal’s passion and vision for this debut is exactly what we were looking for and we expect great things. There’s already been much registered interest from different corners of the world.’ Crystal Mahey-Morgan says, ‘JJ Bola is a beautiful storyteller and this is a unique and accomplished novel made all the more exciting by the fact that it’s a debut. It is both light of touch but deep in feeling and meaning. Full of localised nuances in different times and places and masterfully woven together to simultaneously capture the essence of human heartache and human triumph. I’m confident that JJ has an exciting career as a literary fiction author ahead of him and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of his journey from the very beginning. OWN IT! has acquired World English print, audio and multi-media rights excluding print and non-enhanced eBook in the US & Canada.All other rights, including film, TV and translation rights are handled by the Pontas Literary & Film Agency. OWN IT! will publish No Place to Call Home next June 2017.

From publishing to pioneer: Crystal Mahey-Morgan interview

Crystal Mahey-Morgan is Founder at OWN IT! Entertainment Limited. OWN IT! is a storytelling lifestyle brand, telling stories across books, music, fashion and film. At the heart of everything it does is a desire to share, empower, celebrate and inspire. We wanted to find out more about Crystal and her vision.

1) Your writing has been taken seriously since a young age (16). What helped you to write, and what should budding writers be doing to perfect their craft?

My journalism for me was about sharing my passion about things I loved and expressing an opinion about things I cared about. For The Face Magazine, I wrote about music, fashion and the creativity that was coming from the underground sub-cultures that surrounded me growing up in London. For The Guardian, I wrote articles which included exploring gang culture and the negative effects an irresponsible advertising industry was having on young women growing up. The thing that helped me was everything came from the heart and nothing was forced. I think the best way for budding writers to perfect their craft is not to write what the think will make people like them but to have the confidence to stay true to their ideas, stories, characters etc, as this will probably result in better content.

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