Friday, March 27, 2015

Indie Author & Illustrator: Danielle Pajak

Hi everyone! Now introducing another new blog series that will run every Friday, indefinitely: interviews with self-published & small-press-published authors! If you or someone you know is interested in taking part, please feel free to contact me via email or twitter.

Our first indie author is also an amazingly talented illustrator! The lovely Danielle Pajak recently self-published her graphic novel Elijah.

Danielle Pajak ~ Elijah: A Graphic Novel

Facebook for Elijah: A Graphic

How long have you been writing/creating graphic novels?
Elijah is my first graphic novel, so not very long, but it is the first of many to come. I wouldn't exactly describe myself as a storyteller, but telling a story through images really appeals to me. As an illustrator and concept artist, this is essentially what I am doing anyway, telling a story of character or theme through imagery, rather than words. Though the graphic novel is a combination of the two worlds, images and words, I think it is an underrated medium that is lost in conventional thinking about what Western graphic novels are supposed to look like. One image can say so much, one picture convey a plethora of ideas. I see the graphic novel as a whole as being a piece of art in of itself. As you would paint one picture, choosing the appropriate colors, mood, lighting, contours, etc, so each page becomes a contour of concepts, each panel a pencil stroke of ideas. I see every part of the graphic novel as a canvas, a canvas where you can paint a story and make it come to life through symbols, shapes, colors, textures, and pencil marks. I hope to be able to create unique works of art in my graphic novels, and break the mold of what is considered the successful and desirable graphic novel. 

What’s the most rewarding thing about going indie?
Independence. That is why I always choose to go the indie route, even though it is a lot of work and takes diligence. It is worth the hard work to be able to make your own choices, having complete control in every aspect of your artwork. You can do new things, experiment, and try out unconventional ideas without being hindered by anyone's expectations. It is nice to have that freedom. And with the growth of the Internet in our culture, I think going indie is becoming a more and more successful and viable route every day. 

What inspired Elijah?
Well, Elijah is basically an adaptation. The story is from the Bible, 1 Kings 18, where Elijah, a prophet in the country of Israel, challenges the false religious prophets to a contest to see whose God is the one true God in Israel. I have always been inspired by the stories of the Old Testament prophets, and the great miracles they did. It is like reading about Gandalfs, Merlins, and Obiwans, that lone, mysterious, and magical benefactor of wisdom and guidance, who’s kind of crazy, but does wonderful and powerful things. I love that. There is also such strong symbolism and imagery in the Old Testament, and whenever I read it, it becomes vivid and alive. Originally, I had imagined the 1 Kings 18 story as a kind of tongue-in-cheek web comic, strangely enough. However, that idea, though amusing, didn’t really satisfy the need of expression of the images I saw in my mind. Thus, the idea to do a graphic novel came about. The second thing that also really inspired me was Japanese Art. I find myself continually drawn to the organic minimalism and conceptual expression of their art, whether it be in Anime, Manga, or individual artists of the past and present. From Katsushika Hokusai (Mount Fuji Seen Below a Wave at Kanagawa) to Yoshitaka Amano (Vampire Hunter D, Final Fantasy) to Shinichirō Watanabe's Cowboy Bebop to Tsugumi Obha's Death Note, I love the the ethereal movement, profound simplicity, symbolic emphasis, and atmospheric imagery of the Japanese canvas. The Japanese influence is very prevalent within Elijah.

What’s the blurb for Elijah?
A graphic novel adaptation of 1 Kings 18. Elijah the Tishbite, prophet to the Lord God of Israel, challenges the religious complacency of his countrymen and the false religion of his country's government in a contest that brings a devastating and glorious encounter with the Divine.

We wants it, precious! Where can we buy Elijah?
Haha, yes. You can purchase it on at

What project are you working on now?
Currently I am working on an original story idea for another graphic novel. I’ve talked quite a bit about my early concepts and ideas for this graphic novel on my blog. I even have a few concept pieces of characters and ideas on there as well, which I explain more in depth. It is going to be calledInfinity’s End and it is a science fiction story about a physicist who becomes obsessed with finding the end of the Universe. I am currently quite entrenched in scientific research, most especially Quantum Mechanics, and I want to incorporate the microscopic world of subatomic particles into the story. I am just at the very beginnings of this story, but I would describe it as a very conceptual and abstract piece.  

What are three books that have shaped you as a writer/artist?
There are so many books and authors that inspire me, but as a graphic novelist, I would say that movies/tv shows are the most influential because imagery is really my medium. So, the three things that have shaped me and my ideas and how I view graphic novels are Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, and Japanese storytelling/art, i.e. Anime and Manga (as I've mentioned previously). It was The Fountain that really spurred and inspired me to become a graphic novelist in the first place, and I actually don’t even really like the film, haha. I thought the film could have been so much more than it was, and I think it was this apparent lack that I saw in The Fountain that inspired me want to make graphic novels. It is a very cinematically beautiful film, though.

Are you a plotter or a pantser or an all-of-the-above-er? What is your writing/creating process?
Oh, I am definitely a plotter, in both outlining my graphic novel stories and in how I create my artwork. I always have an idea of the goal of my piece and I try to understand and quantify every aspect of my artistic choices, i.e. color, medium, symbols, etc. I do my best to make everything have a purpose as to why it is there, and in order for me to keep that consistent and cohesive, I need to have an internal (or sometimes external) outline in my mind’s eye to which I always refer back to while creating. I don’t usually like things left up to chance, it makes me uncomfortable, though it does happen. Haha. It is the way of being an artist. You can’t control everything; but that doesn't keep me from trying.

What advice would you give to a writer/artist about to take the plunge into indie publishing?
Plan, Research, and Make Content. Going the indie publishing route you are essentially your own boss, so you need to have the long term goal, where you want to go, and then you need to research how you are going to get there; most importantly of all, though, create-write-do. If you don’t have any work, no amount of planning or research will be of worth to you. Oh, and have lots and lots of patience. You are going to need it.

How do you take your caffeine?
Tea. Hot. I am definitely a tea addict! Speaking of which… *runs off to make some tea*

Thank you so much for participating in the interview series, Danielle! Best of luck as you promote Elijah!


Danielle Pajak has been drawing since she was 5 years old, her earliest memory was of free hand copying images from a pack of game cards, and at one point she had her heart set on becoming a Disney animator. Twenty years later, her love for Disney hasn't died, but has blossomed into a love for movie concept art. She loves looking at the beautiful renderings that make up the "think tank" of a film, whether it is a full feature or an animation. Images, with all of their visual diversity of color, texture, and line, are the canvas on which ideas are expressed and concepts communicated. Danielle hopes to one day be a part of that world of filmmaking, to bring innovative and affecting ideas through her art to the big screen and beyond.


Lady E. said...

This makes me so happy! hehe! Yay!! So proud of my sister. :)

Alexis P. Johnson said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing this, Joanna. Also I love the look for your blog! It looks different than I remember. Lovely!