An Aberdeen student has secured a million-dollar book deal with her debut novel.
Aberdeen University student Faridah Abike-Iyimide, who is from London, was only 19 when she began writing her initial ideas for Ace of Spades but it will now be released by a major publisher in June next year.
The English, Chinese and anthropology student, who is now 21, signed a seven-figure deal with US publisher Macmillan for the novel, which has been described as “high-octane, utterly compelling and with a twist you will never forget”.
Ace of Spades is also being published by Usborne in the UK.
The thriller follows the only two black students at the overwhelmingly white Niveus Private Academy and explores the fallout when gossip about the main characters, musician Devon and head girl Chiamaka, leaves them fighting for their reputations and their lives.
Farida, who grew up in Croydon and has Nigerian heritage, said: “I really want to emphasise just how much I would love black kids to see they deserve a happy ending.
“With all the protests happening and black people being institutionally harmed and all these systems working against them constantly, it can be so easy for them to feel they don’t have a place or any bright future.
“I want them to know that the book was written so they can see there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Faridah said her experience in Aberdeen also shaped the novel.
“My upbringing was working class so I was very used to that environment,” she said.
“Then I went to Scotland for university where it was very white and for the first time I felt I was struggling to find people I could relate to, both on an economic level and just background-wise.
“I could go days without seeing another person of colour, which is not something I was used to.
“That definitely influenced my writing because my book is about two black kids in a school that is overwhelmingly white.
“Just the experience of microaggressions and feeling you are being watched and feeling you are out of place.”
Commissioning editor at Usborne Becky Walker said: “Faridah is a truly remarkable new talent, and, with Ace of Spades, has announced her arrival on the UKYA (UK Young Adult) scene.
“At once peeling back the layers that can mask the magnitude of systemic racism, while simultaneously weaving a nail-bitingly-plotted story that keeps you guessing from beginning to end, Faridah is nothing short of searingly exceptional.
“We know that Faridah has a glittering future ahead of her, and we couldn’t be more proud to be her publisher.”
Aberdeen University praised their student on social media, posting: “We have very talented students! Congratulations to Faridah Abike-Iyimide on landing a million-dollar book deal for her debut novel Ace of Spades, a high school thriller that tackles institutionalised racism. Congratulations Faridah!”