Blogger Adventure: A. Bello’s pop-up blog Rose
On 4 August 2014, children’s author A. Bello will launch Rose, a pop-up blog exploring why Neci, the baddie in her book Emily Knight I Am, became hateful. Rose will only be available for one month, with one chapter published and taken down every week over four weeks, before forever disappearing from the interweb.
A gifted writer and dancer dedicating much of her young career to inspiring children, A.Bello isn’t new to the blogging world: for three years, she has been running Life of a Street Dancer where she chronicles her writing journey, her struggles to get signed by an agent and her school visits.
I caught up with her on how and why she got the innovative idea for a pop-up blog, her creative process and what being a role model means to her.
Why create a pop-up blog as an extension to Emily Knight I Am?
I wanted to do something different. Sometimes with a book, you can’t expand on certain characters if it’s not relevant to the story line. I wanted an opportunity to show more depth in those characters. It’s an experiment to see if perception changes once you know more.
How did you get the idea?
It just came to me. I remember doing an Author’s visit at a school and the class said how at first, they thought Emily was such a brat but once they understood her, they changed their minds. So I wondered if people knew Neci’s story would they sympathise with her? I want to see if people change their minds on Neci after reading the blog.
Why did you make it a pop-up blog?
I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting a book done, as it isn’t for money, it’s for the fans. I can see how many reads a blog gets. If it’s successful, I will do more on different characters.
I thought it would be cool to have a pop-up blog that fans could really get into. I get messages all the time as to when the second book is coming out but as I’m in the process of getting a book deal, I wanted to do something to keep the interest.
Have you already written all chapters or will you be writing as you publish?
I have already written the chapters but I have changed bits here and there. Rose was actually the prologue to my second book, so really people are getting an advanced extract!
Each chapter is going to disappear after seven days. Why not keep them up forever?
It keeps the experiment interesting. As a kid, I would have loved that suspense!
Which public are you trying to reach through Rose?
Mainly my fans, the young people. Hopefully they will like the blog and if they haven’t read the book, they’ll read it.
As humans, we don’t want to believe someone is born evil. I think experiences and environment are what influences a character, so an opportunity to find out how they became bad is intriguing. I haven’t seen Maleficent yet! Angelina Jolie is my favourite actress and I was so scared of that character when I was a kid! Sleeping Beauty was the creepiest Disney movie, so maybe after watching it I won’t be so freaked out by her.
Why did you decide to use Blogger as a platform?
Originally, I wanted to have the story as something you could download but then I wouldn’t be able to track the views. My friend suggested doing a blog, which made more sense. I have been using Blogger for years for my other blog, Life of a Street Dance, and it’s really easy to use.
You’ve been running Life of a Street Dance for over three years now. Why did you decide to start it?
I used to be very private with my writing. I used to write just for me. When I was thinking about becoming published, I realised I had to get over the fear of people reading what I wrote. I also thought other people who wanted to get into writing or dancing and wanted to understand what it was like, could get an insight into it and see the challenges, because there are a lot! But I’m so glad I wrote it because I can see how far I’ve come. If I’m feeling a bit blah, reading past blogs lifts me up.
How do your writing processes for Emily Knight and for your blog differ?
Emily is all of the crazy things that I think about; it’s my escapism and my fantasy world. Life of a Street Dancer is all me and the real things that happen to me.
Are there similarities between your dancing and writing creative processes?
With both of them, I see what I want to create in my mind first. It plays out like a movie: I see it all in my head and then I create it.
The key characters in Emily Knight are female. Why was it important?
There aren’t enough lead female characters in children’s fantasy books. I do think it’s getting better but nowhere near enough. Us females are just as fab as guys!
As a self-published author how important have blogs and social media been to your promotion?
I self-published Emily. Thankfully I’m signed to an agent now because it was hard! Social media is key. I only made my Twitter, Tumblr etc. to reach out to more people but you have to be consistent to get results. My Emily fan page on Facebook reached 10k this year, which is amazing!! I won’t be content till I reach over a million though. Blogging was a great way to connect to people prior to my book release and I still keep it going because I get pretty good hits on it.
As a talented, driven young female black writer, you are an inspiration for young girls. Is being a potential role model something conscious for you?
Oh thank you! I have worked with young people since I was 16 so I feel I have always been conscious of how I act, as I know a lot of young people look up to me. The bigger my books get, the more that role will be, so it’s in my best interest to always be aware of my actions.