Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am an Assistant Professor at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University and the author of “Bunky and the Walms: The Christmas Story” – my first novel dedicated to the youngest Readers aged 5-14, but also to the Readers of all ages who feel young at heart! I enjoy the nineteenth-century British literature, especially everything written by Anthony Trollope and Wilkie Collins. In my free time, I love reading, gardening and baking pizza and cakes (especially the chocolate cake from the recipe that always works)! I love little tea parties with my Dear Ones and, just like the protagonist of my novel, I adore autumn and I love Christmas and the atmosphere of a welcoming kitchen and a cosy living room. One of my favourite literary characters is the Cheshire Cat. Without a doubt, Bunky, the hero of “Bunky and the Walms”, is also my favourite literary character!
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My book is entitled “Bunky and the Walms: The Christmas Story”. It is a magical tale inspired by… reality! I wanted to recreate in the novel the Christmas world which is so close to my heart: the world filled with colours, scents, peace, warmth, hot chocolate and the comforting presence of family and friends. The world which is safe and inviting and welcomes one with stunningly beautiful winter landscapes, the sky filled with a thousand glimmering stars and surprising yet friendly creatures hiding behind every snowdrift; the place where streets are covered with glistening snow and dreams come true if only one believes… At the heart of “Bunky and the Walms” my Readers will encounter Bunky – the protagonist of the novel inspired by my plush mascot – the blue hippo. When I saw the blue hippo for the first time, I realised that his face expression was quite unique: it was the expression balancing somewhere between joy and slight grumpiness. I immediately fell in love with the hippo because of his face expression. “How truthful and how natural – just like us!” I thought. After all, our emotions are a mixture of delight, love, happiness, grumpiness, disappointment and even anger – thankfully, there is no one who would be perfect! …And this is how Bunky Hippo came to live, with all his human-like imperfections and his noble and loving heart. While writing the novel about Bunky, I was also illustrating his adventures and when this wasn’t enough – I took a thread and a needle and sewed Bunky. You can meet him on my webpage: aleksandratryniecka.com While writing, at some point I realised that Bunky became very similar to me. Probably this is what happens to almost every writer… I would like to invite my Readers to meet the protagonist of my novel – Bunky, who is perfectly imperfect, yet always striving to be noble at heart and faithful to his values. After all, I believe that staying faithful to one’s values despite personal imperfections is what the true heroism is all about. I am worried that children and teenagers are often facing the world in which they are being told that the heroes are those who possess supernatural abilities or those who are perfectly beautiful or, even worse, those who never make any mistakes. I think that it is a very harmful theory and I decided to subvert it while creating Bunky Hippo – someone just like my Readers – someone who proves that the greatest heroes fight their biggest battles within themselves in daily life. Bunky will not only strive to save this year’s Christmas, but also he will transform himself during his travel and learn how to appreciate the little things in life which make it truly worth living. Sometimes we don’t notice these little things and Bunky will find them out at last, inviting the Readers to do the same. At the same time, Bunky is writing his own novel and, eventually, falls in love with the character from the novel, the Bunky Princess from Bunkyland. Thus, my Readers are also invited to find out whether it is possible to merge one’s reality with the literary world… Another very important inspiration for the novel originated during my trip to London. Chris and I travelled together for the conference and, while we were taking a walk around Brent, we discovered Walm Lane. We kept wondering about the meaning of “Walm Lane” and this is how the entire world of the Walms family came into existence!
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Oh yes! I decided to become a writer at the age of 4 and immediately wrote my first novel entitled “The Fate of the Hedgehog” (it had a good ending!). I was writing this novel in many strange places: once sitting at the piano and once on a tree. These habits were to stay with me for a long time. It is still delightful to write poetry while sitting on a tree but, when it comes to my novel “Bunky and the Walms”, I sought a more comfortable environment and kept writing either in my room or outside, in the vicinity of my favourite flowers. A part of the novel was written during the summertime and I found it especially refreshing to write very early in the morning after a night in my tent. Mornings are wonderful for writers, since it is still possible to “have the world to oneself”: everyone is still asleep and there is no hurry, there are no worries… at last, the world is as it should have always been! One day in August, I began writing after a night spent in a lawn chair just underneath amazing, glimmering stars. I remember gazing in wonder at the stars and thinking that the universe is such a vast space which allows one to feel fearless and grateful at the same time. Looking at the stars felt like taking a deep breath. The profound beauty of the stars inspired me to write the chapter in which Bunky and his friends travel through the Milky Way. Whoever saw these glimmering stars must have seen the example of ultimate perfection and absolute beauty – something which Bunky experienced in the novel as well.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I am influenced by the beloved authors from my childhood. Tove Jansson is definitely among them, but also A. A, Milne, C. S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll have a constant influence on my life as a reader and writer.
What are you working on now?
Currently I am working on Bunky’s new adventures and on the book about the Victorian female characters – quite different genres, yet both fascinating!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
The best method is: “tell your Readers the truth”! This is what I was hoping to do and what I did in this interview. My author’s website (and Bunky’s website) is: aleksandratryniecka.com
Dear Readers, you are All invited to join us there on our special literary adventure during this winter and Christmas!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Immerse yourself in your story. Let it resonate within you and make your story and your writing an actual part of your life. Perhaps you don’t want the story to completely take over your life but, at the same time, don’t allow it to become a mere form of writing activity. Don’t remind yourself that you need to write because it’s a task. Writing is not a job – it’s a purely magical experience – you bring everything into existence by means of words. Just think about it- you have the power to change the world in a profound and meaningful way!
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
“Try it and don’t be afraid to be judged” – if you believe deeply in something, you simply should not be afraid to try and you should not be afraid if you are judged. This is pefectly applicable in the conext of writing. Also, another great advice which I once heard is not to expect too much – on the surface, it might sound depressive but, actually, it is not! On the contrary, this advice points to the fact that the fruit of hard work are usually gathered after a very, very, very, very long time of persistent hard work and dedication. But, certainly, the fruit will be there – it is just all about patient, time and true dedication – doing everything in one’s life from the heart.
What are you reading now?
I am reading a variety of texts and it comes as a surprise to find them together: “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott (this is some of my Students’ favourite novel and I really wanted to reach for it too), Doris Lessing’s and Muriel Spark’s short stories and Johnny Cash’s autobiography, as well as the Kopp Sisters’ series by Amy Stewart. Once in a while, I am also reaching for the adventures of Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” – the last one is a must, because I really enjoy a good tea party! 🙂
What’s next for you as a writer?
This is the question for my characters, including Bunky. They always lead me somewhere where I can find them and where I can discover their new adventures and stories. I am sure that whatever is coming next, my characters already have it planned and it will be fascinating! To tell the truth, I would love to keep writing for the rest of my life!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Perhaps the correct answer should be: (1) “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe, so that I could learn how to construct my new abode, make wicker baskets and regret all my guilty behaviour from the happy times when my improvement was still possible (before being stranded on a desert island). Moreover, I cannot imagine going anywhere and staying there forever without (2) C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” – it is a beloved novel from my childhood. (3) There is also a book by Lech Abłażej which is so adorable – “The Tales about Princesses” dedicated to the youngest Readers. I desperately need to take (4) a cookbook too and, if I would like to obtain some good life advice (it might be necessary on a desert island), I would reach for (5) Johnny Cash’s last biographical work which I absolutely love.
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