Magazine article Communication World

A Novel Approach: In Search of a More Personal Writing Style, Author Yang-May Ooi Turns to Blogs-And Discovers What Makes Them So Compelling to Write and to Read

Magazine article Communication World

A Novel Approach: In Search of a More Personal Writing Style, Author Yang-May Ooi Turns to Blogs-And Discovers What Makes Them So Compelling to Write and to Read

Article excerpt

How do you escape the solitary world of book writing, with endless days spent in your pajamas typing along at a project that takes months before it--and maybe you--sees the light of day? Yang-May Ooi, the author of two novels, The Flame Tree and Mindgame, both published by Hodder & Stoughton in the U.K., has the answer: blogging.

Ooi, who has been profiled in an English literature textbook alongside the likes of Kazuo Ishiguro and Salman Rushdie, came across blogs from all over the world while surfing the Net (instead of writing!), and became fascinated by the personal voices of many strangers. Drawing on her own experience--she was born in Malaysia and educated in the U.K.--Ooi has launched the innovative, magazine-style East-West blog Fusion View (www.fusionview.co.uk). Frequent CW contributor Silvia Cambie talked to Ooi to find out how she has used her multimedia site to create a growing cross-cultural community of writers, filmmakers and readers.

Silvia Cambie: How easy was it for you to make the transition from writing books to blogging?

Yang-May Ooi: After two legal thrillers, I wanted to develop a more personal, informal style for my third novel. I started a blog and found myself writing daily with enthusiasm--such a contrast from the struggle to work on my next novel! The more I wrote, the more visitors came to my site. E-mails and comments from readers encouraged me to write more. And as I wrote online, I rediscovered my own personal voice.

SC: How do you create a community around a blog?

Y-MO: A social network online is just like one in the real world, only you make connections through written text instead of speaking to someone personally. You visit other blogs, and you can join in the conversation by leaving a comment or e-mailing the blogger. The blog owner is likely to take a look at your blog in response, and other visitors might also come along via the conversation you just joined. They might then add their thoughts to your conversation.

A lot of advice out there about blogging says that links are the currency to make your blog top the search engines. That may be true, but it's a sterile way of looking at what blogging is about. For me, the key is to engage in a real way with other bloggers. Take the story of the translator Nicky Harman, who e-mailed me to ask if I knew any literary agents for her translation of a Chinese novel into English. I did not, but I was intrigued and invited her to write a first-person piece about the process of translation. As a result, she was approached by a publisher in China and is also talking to a U.K. literary agent, both of whom found her on Fusion View.

SC: How can blogs be used to promote the profile of writers and communicators?

Y-MO: First off, a blog isn't necessarily a replacement for traditional forms of PR, such as press releases or networking, but used in conjunction with them, blogging can increase your profile in a powerful way. The more regularly you write on your blog, the more Google and other search engines will love your site. At a deeper level, by building a quality community around the themes of your blog, you are likely to have more targeted traffic from visitors who are interested in what you are writing.

Having a well-designed site that projects your personal brand and delights the eye also helps. I started my blog in April [2006], using the free platform Blogger. …

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