Novels, children’s books, One Star Hotel, London Surf/Film Festival, hot chocolate…and some other updates…

It’s been quite a long time since I sat down to write a blog… I’ve had almost no internet access for a very long time, and it’s still very intermittent and unreliable, as I’ve been living the secluded hermit life and writing my novel. Very absorbing work indeed. Today, however, I’ve managed to find my way into a café with wifi to have a hot chocolate and write this quick update… forgive me if it isn’t particularly coherent! …there’s so much to say but I’ll try keep it as brief as I can because my hot chocolate is almost gone…;-)

 

Following my last post about my soon to be published debut novel ‘The Colour Black’…I think that after a roller-coaster ride of experiencing episodes of traumatising and stressful writers block followed by sudden sustained outbursts of inspiration, whilst I still have so much to do, I’d say I’m on the final stretch of the writing part of the book. Then there’s still the visual part to work on. So I really need to knuckle down.

 

The ‘Making Waves’ exhibition mentioned in my previous blog was so much fun! We should be holding another in December…but I’ll keep you posted as soon as I know more details.

 

…in the meantime, however, it looks like I’ll be exhibiting a few art pieces at next Friday’s London Surf/Film Festival. This will once again be with the wonderful Happy Gallery Collective, which means that 50% of all sales will go to Surfers Against Sewage!

 

More and more teachers have been writing to me to tell me about how they are using my picture books and art in their lessons, and that makes me very happy! Thank you to all of you who have written to me to let me know, I really love finding out about all the different ways in which the kids engage in the stories! I have also received some really exciting requests for school visits and workshops, which I really can’t wait to do!

 

The printed versions of The Silent Books are still currently out of stock unfortunately. I hope to get round to printing them again soon, but because they are self-published I have to first raise enough money to invest into getting them printed. Fingers crossed that will be soon!:) In the meantime, of course, ‘The Black Hat’ is available to purchase as an ebook here.

 

 

And finally…last but definitely not least…last winter I was delighted to be commissioned by the author Robert Young to work on his picture book about Christmas: ‘One Star Hotel’. 41 illustrations and a few months later and the visual part of the book was complete. And now, a few more months later, the book has been published and is now available to purchase. It was a lot of fun to work with Robert on this! Here’s a snippet illustration from the book:

 

One Star Hotel

 

Ok…phew! Now that was a lot of updating…but I think that just about covers everything… Think it’s time to take my last sip of the hot chocolate and then get back to writing that novel! Wish me luck!:)

 

Lots of love,

Maia

xx

The Colour Black

I’m so incredibly happy to announce that yesterday I signed a publishing deal for my debut novel, ‘The Colour Black’!!

It will be an illustrated novel, out in Spring 2014, and you can find out more here. Below is a very brief and vague summary of the story, and also an illustration I have been playing around with for the front cover.

“The Colour Black is a philosophical story of conspiracy, adventure, love and tragedy, covering the vast expanse of ocean and land all the way from Mexico to Alaska. It explores human relationships with the natural world, with each other and with themselves. It asks questions about love, the universe and the human mind, but above all it asks the question: what is reality?”

TCB Cover idea

In other – also very very exciting – news, at the very beginning of August I will be exhibiting my art (many of the pieces that will be exhibited are as yet unseen and unreleased ones!) at the ‘Making Waves’ exhibition at the Coningsby Gallery in London. The exhibition is held by The Happy Gallery Collective (an artist collective that tries to raise awareness and money for various causes through art) and this exhibition will be in aid of Surfers Against Sewage. Here are all the details of the event, it’s going to be brilliant, see you there!

Love xx

June so far…

It’s always so heartwarming to see what my work inspires in others. I just received another lovely email from a primary school teacher. Below are some art pieces created by her Year 3 pupils, inspired by my ocean art.

The children also used my book The Girl with The Yellow Bag as a stimulus for creative writing, and here’s an example of a snippet from the story that they came up with, personally I think it’s brilliant, and I wish I’d written it!;-)

“Under the light of the street lamps something caught the girl’s eye.  On the ground was battered, shattered glass from an old rusty car.   Although it was battered it shimmered in the streetlights.  She delicately swept it up like it was shattered diamonds.  After that, she unzipped her sunshine yellow bag and poured the broken glass into it and zipped it up again.

 She climbed up a tall hill and slowly opened the bag… suddenly millions of glistening stars danced out until they filled the night sky.”

Their lovely teacher also told me that:

“…We used oil pastels as a resist and then used water colours to wash over them.  Some even went home and produced larger pieces of work too!

We used The Girl with the Yellow Bag as a stimulus for some fantastic writing. They wrote the words to accompany your illustrations and then thought of their own objects to put in the bag. They even recorded themselves speaking the words to accompany their own illustrations.  We have had so much fun!”

Reading and looking at these has brought a huge smile to my face, what a super talented bunch of kids, and what a lovely note for me to start the weekend on!:-)

xx

1 2 3 4

More feedback from schools…

It’s been a while since I wrote on here, because I have been super busy working on many different projects, including making new surf art pieces for an upcoming exhibition for Surfers Against Sewage (exact dates and venue to be confirmed), writing and illustrating my new children’s picture book and also writing a novel. Very very very exciting times!

But yesterday I received two different emails, both from different teachers in the UK who have been using my picture books and artwork in their classes to inspire their class to write and draw. These stories always make me so happy, there’s nothing quite like finding out that children somewhere are getting inspired to get creative through my work! It’s amazing!

Here is a slide show of some of the work a class did on The Black Hat. Not only has The Black Hat inspired creative writing in this class but also discussions on different topics. The teacher told me that:

“Non fiction writing will be following after the half term holiday. We will be writing balanced arguments on the topic of wild animals being caged in zoos. I think it will be another success.”

The Black Hat School Board

And here is the other lovely email I received yesterday, I’ll definitely be posting more of the kids’ art pieces up on here when I get them.

“Dear Maia,

Having found your work through the Literacy Shed, I am just coming to the
end of two weeks of working on writing and art based on some of your work
with my Year 3 class.

We have used the Girl with the Yellow Bag and your ocean art, both of which
have captured their imagination. I have told them I would send you pictures
of some of their work and they are really excited!

I have attached one of their pictures for you to see now!

Thank you for inspiring my children!”
Yr 3 Maia Walczak ocean inspired art

Ah, now it’s me who feels very very inspired!:)

‘The Fox and The Child’ by Luc Jacquet

After a late Sunday night and an early Monday morning start to get to The London Book Fair I promised myself I would have an early night. But here I am at 2:30am Tuesday morning typing this blog up in my bed. Not sure I have ever felt quite so inspired and compelled to write a blog.

I have just finished watching ‘The Fox and The Child’ by Luc Jacquet. I went from grinning cheesily at the screen, to actually crying at some points.  How did I not know about this film before?! It’s about a girl and a fox!! For those of you who have seen my Silent Red Book and Silent Blue Book you will know why I am so shocked about not having stumbled across this film earlier!:)

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Fox and Girl 2

This film is like a nature documentary and a beautiful story in one. It is set in the Jura mountains in eastern France, and the shots of nature are stunning, reminding us how incredibly beautiful and magical this planet is. The film was also a lovely personal reminder for me of the many days I used to (and still do!) spend foraging through forests as a kid.

The Fox and The Child scene 2The Fox and the Child scene

The Fox and The Child scene 5 

Apart from the fact that this film is just beautiful in itself – for the scenery and for the story – it appealed to me also because of some of the ideas it touched on…

The girl talks about how the foxes are considered a “pest and a menace” where she lives, and are therefore killed in many different ways (shooting, poisoning, blocking dens, etc)…at one point she remarks that “it was seen that the war between man and fox would never end”. The girl, however, sees the foxes as “beautiful”…but she goes onto say that of course, her opinion doesn’t count. I guess some people could dismiss her calling the foxes beautiful as naïve, idealistic and very much a ‘child view of the world’ (which, by the way, I would argue is probably the best, wisest and most sane view of the world)…but even so I have often found it interesting when people point the finger at and wage hate campaigns against other animals and call them ‘vermin’ or ‘pests’ and argue that for that reason they need to be killed. I find it interesting only because humans are the biggest pests of all on this planet. No one can argue with that, we all know it. I guess I also find it somehow sad that many animals become so-called ‘pests’ only through the fault of the human species.

Our species is apparently so intelligent…but we are also totally insane.

The Fox and The Child scene 4

Another thing I appreciated about the film is that even though it may be in big part a children’s film it didn’t make out that the natural world of the animal kingdom is – by our standards – some kind of ‘ideal’ hollywood fairytale. The relationships between predator and prey are clearly seen throughout the film. In that way I feel we gain a deeper and truer appreciation of nature.

The magic and beauty of the film doesn’t come from a made-up fantasy world, it comes from reality. We don’t have to be entertained by special effects. The world is magic enough, and overwhelmingly so! The believable relationship that slowly develops between a girl and a fox and the stunning natural environment with its incredible array of creatures  is the magic…and it’s a magic that is so very often overlooked by humans.

The Fox and The Child scene 6

The other thing I really value about this film is that at first the girl sets out to become the fox’s friend by taming her and making the fox ‘hers’…but through various things that happen in the story, she finally comes to realise the truer meaning of love, friendship and freedom when she remarks, “it wasn’t by keeping her that she would remain mine,” and “I had confused possession for love”. This reminded me of the story of the boy and the animals in The Black Hat …and again it made me wonder how I had not stumbled across this film before!

In sum I found this film beautiful, atmospheric and wise, I really recommend it! I think today might be the last day you can see it on BBC iPlayer…but there are obviously other ways of getting hold of it!

The Fox and The Child scene 3Fox and Girl 3Fox and Girl 4Fox and Girl

…Please forgive me if this blog post has loads of mistakes or goes on a bit…it’s now 2:55am and I am absolutely exhausted!:) …though felt an urge to get all the above out of my system, particularly because of some recent discussions I’ve had with friends about the bad press foxes, badgers, etc are getting in the UK at the moment. We could do with taking a step back and getting some perspective before we go pointing fingers all over the place…

(All photos in this post are scenes from the film ‘The Fox and The Child’, and illustrations are by Maia Walczak)

Making waves…

Here’s something that’s made me smile recently…a year 4 class in Nottingham have been studying my work and creating artwork inspired by my ocean art. Check out their gorgeous drawings…who’s inspiring who, eh? I’m definitely inspired now!:)


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The Wall

This is an edited version of Tuesday’s blog for Brit Writers. View the original post here.

I have a new idea for a children’s picture book. The book is clear in my mind. I have already started writing the story. A few of my readers are already anticipating the release of my next book. I want to release it this year so that my readers have a new book to enjoy (…well I hope they enjoy it!🙂 ). If I wanted to I could have the whole picture book with writing and illustration ready in the next few months. And once it’s readyI’ll be itching to show it to my readers…and the world! But the problem is, how do I get it out there?
I have three options.
Option 1 is the way I started my career, which was by providing the stories for free online. Whilst this was great for getting people to know about my work, and people from all over the world having access to these free resources, it did mean a lot of time and effort from me, but no money in return. Like I said in my recent blog post on my own blog money isn’t the measure of success. However, on the practical level, money earned from doing what you love does mean you can carry on doing what you love, as opposed to spending your time and energy on a job that has nothing to do with what you love. If you don’t have the time or energy left to create stuff, you’re less likely to create stuff.
Putting out more free resources is not just a thing I would love to do because I myself am fond of free stuff and love the fact that so many people have had access to my work because of it, but because it’s the easiest way for me to get my work out there – I can do it straight away without going through any paperwork – and the cheapest way – I can put it all up and out there for free, without paying someone to produce it for me.
Option 2 is approaching lots of agents and publishers with my new book and waiting a standard of three to six months for a response…be it a rejection or an acceptance letter. I’ve gone down this route before, and I do still intend to go down it…but most people know how frustrating this option is. Say I started properly working on this book now and had it ready and finished in June, then I’d write to publishers and agents, then I’d wait many months for a response. Say I was lucky and got an acceptance letter within the first 6 months, it would still be another year or two before the book was actually produced and available on shop shelves. My point is that this option is long and tedious…but of course potentially pretty great if you do find a publisher.
Option 3 is self-publishing. This is something I have done a few times, most recently with my ebook The Black Hat.  This option is awesome if you want to take control of your own work and are not in the mood for waiting around on fate with traditional publishing. But the biggest problem with this option – more so for people who aren’t financially well off – is the risk factor. You invest money out of your own pocket and wonder if you’ll ever make it back. I can’t even begin to describe how frustrating this option can be, and how disheartening it is when you don’t make the money back. But then again there are a fair few people who have really done well for themselves from this option.
So my point is, I have a new children’s picture book I’m itching to make and in theory I could have it ready for my readers to see and enjoy very soon…but in practice I have no idea when they’ll be able to see it. I’ve tried all the above options, and each has its pros and cons. It’s a funny situation, like a strange wall standing in the way of something that should seem so simple. I’m sure I’ll find my way round it somehow!🙂