Writing novels, reminiscing about crushes and living the houseboat dream

Q – Thanks for chatting with us. Can you start with a quick intro for our readers as to who you are and what you do?

Hi, I’m Klara. I’m a non-binary, bisexual illustrator and writer.

Q – When and how did you decide to become an illustrator?

I’ve been drawing since I was a child and never stopped. My undergraduate degree is in 2D animation, but these days my drawings don’t move as much.

A creative career can be tough, and I also have a day job that I enjoy that allows me to be creative. I need the security and routine of a job to do my best work.

I’m my own patron!

I’m serious about my craft and have a strict morning routine to make sure that I make progress in my creative projects.

Q – After finishing your MA in Creative Writing, you’re now in the process of completing a novel, how’s that all going?

It’s like working on a deeply satisfying puzzle.

I love designing intricate plots (often involving time travellers) and I’m very careful with symbolism, as it all feeds into the overall meaning of the work. I have a completed novel that I’m currently querying, and I’m working on a new one.

Q – Are you able to tell us a bit more about the novel? Or is it all hush hush for now?

The novel that I’m querying is about a misfit time traveler from the 1920s trying to save her family, but everything she tries, time just rearranges itself to stop her.

My current novel is a gothic love letter to the Oxford canal network. A psychic boater tries to solve a cold case murder, while falling in love with the ghost of the victim. I’m having lots of fun describing all the places I used to moor at for two weeks at a time while shuttling between Oxford and Banbury.   

Q – The theme of our 4th issue is ‘Crush’. Can you tell us (how your work relates?)

A friend of mine calls your first significant crush your ‘unicorn’

and one person immediately comes to mind. Jane Bennett from the 90s Pride and Prejudice TV series really reminds me of her, especially that enigmatic smile she gives Mr Bingley at the ball he throws at Netherfield. I just happened to be working through all my old favourite films for self-care during this pandemic, and had watched ‘The Last Unicorn’, and the idea came from there.

Q – So we spied online that you live on a boat, that’s pretty cool! Plus you have a few animal friends on board also. How is life onboard The Arctic Rose? Is it the sanctuary we’re dreaming it is?

Thank you! Yes, Rose is wonderful, and she’s definitely a sanctuary.

I’m like a dormouse in that I feel safe in small spaces.

It’s important to me that my environment is cosy so her interior is a pastel coloured dream with a fold up art desk with pots for all my copic marker pens. And yes, I have three cats and two rabbits- all rescue animals. My rabbits roam free but tend to sleep near my feet when I’m working at my desk. You wouldn’t think it but they do snore loudly at times!   

We’ve recently installed a projector and screen so we can watch movies and play on the nintendo switch on a big screen while sitting up in bed, which has been glorious.

Q – Since COVID-19 have you found yourself being more creative, or dedicating more time to your novel?

I’ve seen all the posts about completing novels while in lockdown, but

your self-worth shouldn’t be measured by your productivity.

That’s a really dangerous train of thought. But sadly, I have a particularly loud productivity ‘gremlin’ that screeches loudly if I feel I’m not being productive. My day job is busier than ever and I’m trying to keep working on my creative projects. 

I’ve not been half as creative during all this as I would have liked to be, but I’ve been making space and time for my creativity, and being gentle with myself that this space is a gift that I can fill with creative activities or not. I’ve spent a lot of time decluttering, tidying and besting, which has helped enormously with how I’ve felt day to day.

Many people find this funny but I have a novel that I work on when I’m procrastinating. It’s an unpublishable sprawling LGBT space opera that I tinker with no end in sight. I call it ‘BF’ and I’ve been letting myself work on that as much as I want.

It’s a form of creative play, and I find that it informs my current work in unexpected ways!

I’d advise every creative person to find themselves a BF project.

Q – Final question before we let you go. If you had some advice for yourself pre COVID-19 times what would it be and why?

I’d booked three separate trips to go see all my loved ones, and had to cancel them all. I wish I’d gone sooner. I also wish I’d taken more time to visit art galleries this year. I love to revisit my favourite galleries in London with a sketchpad, but kept putting it off.

It’s so important for your mental health to do what you love.

Spookily, I did do some unconscious prepping for COVID before it hit. I bought a wonderful new desk for no particular reason, stocked up on materials, turned down a lovely studio space based on a feeling, did a lot of decluttering to create a lovely space to relax in, set up a lovely new workspace for myself, etc. 

I wish I’d been moored somewhere more exciting when lockdown hit and we were all asked to stop moving, but I ended up in a spookily convenient place with plenty of resources in arms reach. In Oxfordshire a couple of years back I suspected we’d be frozen in, so I legged it to central Oxford and sat on a choice city centre mooring in the nick of time.

Klara Bow Piechocki

They / Them | Illustrator

Full body photo of Klara. They are sitting on a metal barrier which is part of the canal lock and is outdoors in the UK. They are smiling and wearing a brown faux fur coat with faux black leather trousers to the shin and trainers. They have short blue hair.


Klara was interviewed by Lucy Everett

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