Bella Goes Bump In The Night – Interview with Derek Roché

Derek and Gina Roché,  Authors

Jonathan Ashley, Illustrator

Suitable for: Preschool to 8 yrs

Themes:  Imagination, Night Frights, Courage, Conquering Fear

Opening: “Things that go bump in the night, Giving my poor soul a fright.  Like Zombies and Warlocks, or cold witches brew, Ghoulies and Goblins who’d have me for stew.  Leprechaun, Minotaur, Cyclops — oh my!  Werewoves and Gremlins and Dragons who fly. Things that go bump in the night, giving a poor soul a fright…” 

Bella lays in bed, covers pulled tightly to her chin and tries to fall asleep.  But, her overactive imagination carries her into a world of goblins and dragons. It is there where Bella faces her demons and ends up befriending each one.  Bella is the spunky hero in this charming and witty book.  It is written in verse by the Derek and Gina Roché, and is the first book published in the “Bella the Great” series.  Jonathan Ashley’s illustrations are gorgeous, whimsical, detailed and beautifully capture Bella’s adventures.

Author Interview

Derek and Gina Roché  are the authors of Bella Goes Bump in the Night, under the  logo of “Bella the Great.”   They began writing children’s books to chronicle the daily lives of their two daughters, Isabella (Bella) and Angelia (Gia).  They are classically trained actors, who have studied at Circle in the Square’s Theatre School.  Derek and Gina have been writing for their own enjoyment for some time.  They have used the start in children’s literature to get them motivated to take their writing  in other mediums and genres more seriously.  My interview today is with Derek, as Gina is working on a film in the middle of a jungle in Sri Lanka for three months.

Before I start the interview, I’ve asked Derek to share his efforts to help a boy who has mitochondrial disease.  Zach needs to travel from Pasadena, CA, to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, to see a doctor who specializes in this specific genetic disorder.

Gina and I are trying to help raise the necessary travel funds to get Zach to Columbus for a potentially life-saving consultation with Dr. Carlo Di Lorenzo.   We are donating 100 percent of the net profits of our book sales for Bella Goes Bump in the Night, to help raise funds for Zach.  If you go to our website Bella the Great, we have given people multiple options.  You can make a direct donation that will go directly to Zach without making a purchase.  You also can use the button that allows you to donate $15 or more and receive the book as a gift.  Visit 17-year-old Zach on his Facebook page, Big Zach’s Village, to learn more about this remarkable teenager.

What is the inspiration behind “Bella Goes Bump in the Night?”

Our oldest daughter Bella (5 1/2 yrs.) is and continues to be our inspiration for the series.  We’ve now added Gia (2 1/2 yrs.) to our inspiration as well.  Bella Goes Bump in the Night came to us quickly after a talk about monsters with her.  She’s always had an incredibly active imagination (in the best way) and it’s something that we’ve marveled at and continually try to nurture in both our girls.  And, Bella has  contributed to some of the later stories.  She wants to be a knight for Christmas.  She doesn’t want to dress up as a knight.  No, Bella wants to actually receive knighthood.  We’re working on it!  Her current wish to be a knight definitely puts the idea of “Bella the Great” being knighted in the forefront of our minds for an upcoming story.

How has Bella responded to being featured in books?  What is Gia like?

Bella has had positive experiences from the book.  She definitely “gets it.”  The other day I overheard her asking the parent of another small child at the park, if she had “her” book?  I believe it has helped her self-confidence.  There have been times when she’s used it as a tool to ease me into the idea that she’s more capable of doing something than I might have given her credit for.   She has uttered on more than one occasion, “Don’t worry Papa, I’m Bella the Great!”  I am in awe of both girls every day.  Gia is the perfect complement to Bella and our family.  Gia is the one who is going to challenge me and give me gray hair.   Gina and I are truly blessed and excited to see the women they will grow up to be.  They show us true greatness every day.

Why did you decide to self-publish?  Did you find it challenging?

We self-published the first book.  That was the plan from the start.  We didn’t think we had enough time to go the traditional route.  We had some very specific goals and needs.  We felt that doing it ourselves would streamline the process.  As with everything, it had both its pros and cons.  Promotion was a foot to pavement scenario (finger to keyboard more so).  Then through friends we became connected to a variety of outlets.  It was very challenging and disheartening at times.   After the fact, we found a great agent, Mollie Glick with Foundry Literary Media.

How did you get your big break with Apple and publishing  on iTunes, iPhones and iPad? 

It was something we looked into in the early stages, but assumed it would take a good deal of time and capital   As it turned out, Gina had reconnected with a high school classmate who was developing apps with a new focus on children’s content.   He loved our book and approached us about developing it as an app, which he then submitted to Apple.  It’s definitely been our best market.  Apple and iTunes have been amazing and have loved Bella the Great.  We were picked as “New and Noteworthy right out of the gate.  We were featured in the banner on the front page of iTunes when we were simultaneously selected as “What’s Hot.”  We were the number two book, second only to Green Eggs and Ham.   They also honored us with a “Staff Favorite” pick.  It’s been a great run and we’re hoping to get another book out on the platform soon.  We love Apple.  We have sold more digital copies than books.  People have given us such positive feedback, but they don’t follow-up and buy the book.

Your sales and reviews took off like wildfire.  How did you feel about receiving the coveted Kirkus Review?

We owe a great thanks to Apple for recognizing a great children’s book.  We’ve never been in touch with anyone at Apple.  Our developer doesn’t talk to anybody.  He made it clear that they are very protective against the possibility of anyone accusing them of favoritism.   The app is doing well when you consider that we were “nobodies.”  We have a German translation included now with Italian, Hebrew and Chinese ready to be integrated.

We didn’t realize what a great honor it was to be noticed and reviewed by Kirkus.  That was exciting!   It definitely helped us to stay on track with this idea that we were on to something.

What are your thoughts about the future of traditional children’s books and apps?

I am very old-fashioned and don’t believe digital media will do away with real books.  I see the impact first hand.  When the girls and I go to the library or book store, it’s like hunting for buried treasures when we search for books.  We take them home, find our favorites, and read them again and again.  It’s personal and intimate.  I don’t get that with book/apps.  Not even our own.  They’d rather read the real book.  I do see apps as an opportunity for writers who are self-publishing or are with smaller imprints.  It can give them that extra little push to get them on board.

What’s next for Derek and Gina?

We have 10 Bella books written with several more story lines in the works, and a stable of non-Bella books too, both written and in their infancy.  We definitely plan on putting more Bella books on iTunes.   We’re working on the second of two new Bella books that our agent will submit to publishers based on earlier feedback.

Thank you Derek for sharing your unique journey with us,  from self-publishing to being the second popular app on iTunes.   I hope you sell a lot of books so that you can raise the funds needed to send Zach to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.  You have a big heart!  Blessings to all,  Patricia  

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

21 thoughts on “Bella Goes Bump In The Night – Interview with Derek Roché

  1. What an amazing story! You are very talented generous people. The book sounds fabulous, I’m going to sneak it on my to buy list for sure. Best wishes. Thanks Pat and Derek.

  2. I really enjoyed this interview, especially hearing about the project for Zach and how Bella and Gia are such inspirations! or should I say Knight Bella? Very happy to hear about the translations too!

    I was surprised and happy about Derek’s view on apps! Glad to hear Apple have been so supportive to them.

    Looking forward to more family projects and wishing them and Zach great success in raising the necessary funds.

    • Joanna, I knew you would be interested in the translations and their experience with apps. The Zach project is a life and death matter. It’s important Zach gets to Columbus. Derek and Gina, also helped a little girl with brain cancer last year and donated sales of their book. They are very generous people and they involve their daughters. Happy you enjoyed the interview! — Pat

  3. Bella The Great sounds wonderful, and what an inspiring story, about self-publishing and then getting the Kirkus review etc…! Also, how wonderful that the proceeds go to help Zach! Thanks for sharing the book and interview, Pat!

    • Susanna, I’m pleased you enjoyed the book and interview. I shared their story because I found their journey in publshing a unique success story. And, they are a very generous and giving family. Derek is so committed to helping Zach get to Columbus.

  4. Very inspiring story on all fronts. I wish them luck in their fundraising endeavors. Apps like this make me want an iPad, even though I have the Fire. I watched the review and the reviewer really focused a lot on the illustrations. Very interesting to hear the comments. I enjoyed the comments of how Bella views being in a book. Made me smile.

    • Thanks Stacy. I found their story inspiring on many levels. I love that they teach their daughters by example. This is the second child they have helped through the sales of their books. And, they give hope to many aspiring writers. They have been very creative in their approach to marketing. And, the series is wonderful.

  5. What a fantastic interview — I can hardly wait to get the book, and to check out the app! Hope Bella gets her knighthood (female knights are very rare on the ground, but I have a feeling Bella the Great could achieve it!)

  6. A note for others — looks like they don’t ship to addresses outside the United States. Perhaps anyone outside the US could have the book shipped to a US friend who would then send it on.

    • Thanks Erik! I hoped you’d read this story as I thought you’d like it. Bella is a great character! And, will be a wonderful series! Derek and his family are so kind. Last year they helped a little girl with brain cancer, by donating the proceeds of their book to the family.

  7. I really enjoyed this review Pat and I’m looking forward to reading about Bella. How inspiring these two authors are with their publication process and their generous donation to help Zach.

    Thanks for sharing Derek, and congrats to you and Gina on the Kirkus review!

    • Jennifer, I’m glad you liked the interview. It’s agreat story and I look forward to their future series. But, most important is their wanting to help others — especially Zach. This trip is so important to save his life. Last year they helped a little girl with a brain tumor. Thanks for stopping.

  8. This was a fantastic interview Pat. How wonderful they are using their books to help kids in need. What generous people Derek and Gina are. Delighted at their Kirkus award and heartening to hear his thoughts on Apps. Loved hearing about his daughters. He obviously spends a lot of time with his girls, brave man…. all those “great” women around him.
    Speaking of things going bump in the Night….. You had me on the title. Loved it!

    • Diane, I am glad you found the story interesting. They have such a unique story, that I wanted to share it with other authors/bloggers. I also downloaded the app and was impressed with the quality. But, it still doesn’t replace books. So, it was nice to have Derek share his thoughts and experiences with us. And, he is promoting such a great cause to help Zach get to a specialist in Columbus.

  9. Wow, incredible success story. Apple has some titanic power that’s for sure. They’ve undeniably changed the world with their products. I wish I read children’s books so I had an excuse to check this out. But I’m single and have no kids and it’s obviously not meant for someone of my age. However, I know couples with kids so I’ll let them know about it.

    • Thanks for visiting Michael. Yes, it is an incredible success story — that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do a post with Derke. His books are great. I hope you do mention them to others. – Pat

  10. Pingback: Bella Goes Bump in the Night | Jesse Black

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