Esme Symes-Smith

I found out about Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston at a book event I went to a few months back. This is the first in this Middle Grade Fantasy series, and the next book, Sir Callie and the Dragon’s Roost is set to come out this coming November. Not only are the characters engaging, and the world-building unique, I love the book’s theme of embracing one’s true self.


Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston CoverMy name is Callie, and I’m not a girl. I am here as Papa’s squire, and I want to train as a knight.

In a world where girls learn magic and boys train as knights, twelve-year-old nonbinary Callie doesn’t fit in anywhere. And you know what? That’s just fine. Callie has always known exactly what they want to be, and they’re not about to let a silly thing like gender rules stand in their way.

When their ex-hero dad is summoned back to the royal capital of Helston to train a hopeless crown prince as war looms, Callie lunges at the opportunity to finally prove themself worthy to Helston’s great and powerful.

Except the intolerant great and powerful look at Callie and only see girl.

Trapped in Helston’s rigid hierarchy, Callie discovers they aren’t alone–there’s Elowen, the chancellor’s brilliant daughter, whose unparalleled power is being stifled; Edwyn, Elowen’s twin brother, locked in a desperate fight to win his father’s approval; and Willow, the crown prince who was never meant to be king.

In this start to an epic series packed with action, humor, and heart, Callie and their new friends quickly find themselves embedded in an ancient war–the only hope to defeat the dragons and witches outside the kingdom lies in first defeating the bigotry within.


What do you miss most about living in the UK and why?

There isn’t much I miss about the UK, but I do miss the history. I miss being able to visit castles and stately homes; traipsing across the moors and coming across ancient ruins of settlements. Much of SIR CALLIE is a love letter to that history and lore.

Which is one of many reasons why I love the world you’ve built in SIR CALLIE. How did you know what belonged in the world, and what didn’t?

I went with my gut. Whilst I admire fantasy authors who can really make an authentic historical setting, I am not one of those authors. SIR CALLIE is about the characters, so everything else was built around what they needed. That includes coffee and potatoes, but I couldn’t quite suspend historical disbelief to give Nick the eyeglasses he DEFINITELY needs!

Ha, that makes sense! The Sir Callie website is excellent. Not all books get their own website–what led you to creating it?

All of my marketing decisions come from what I as a reader enjoy. For the website, I wanted a hub for the SIR CALLIE series, where readers can easily access information about the books, the characters, and Callie-related news without the mess of social media. Not everyone is on social media, especially middle-grade kids, but they do have access to the internet, and as a kid I loved consuming everything I could about my favourite stories.

What a great idea! If you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?

Stay yourself, it’s worth it!

Growing up, I always looked at the other kids around me and wondered when they learnt the lessons on how to be cool and normal, because I had clearly missed them! I was bullied pretty badly through my teens, and a big part of me wished I could conform and fit in. I tried, for a while, but now I’m 31 and I’m more myself than I’ve ever been. I chose to follow my own path and be who I wanted. I am truly living my kid-self’s dreams.









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