Sunday, October 2, 2016

Free Bird Lina Maslo

I'm so happy to have Lina Maslo on my blog today. Lina's debut picture book is about female education right's activist Malala Yousafzai. If you don't know about Malala I have included a link at the end of this post.

Lina's illustration style is both delicate and bold at the same time. I don't think there could have been a better illustrator to tell Malala's story. It is a story that should be in the hands of children everywhere, especially because education is not accessible to everyone.

I feel very blessed to be able to have Lina on my blog. I hope that her journey inspires you to write and illustrate a story that might help change the world for the better. Thank you so much for being here Lina!

(Check below this post to see where you should be in the Smart Dummies Challenge!)


Dani: Who (or what) inspired you to be an illustrator?

Lina: I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I illustrated and wrote a book in 5th grade (unpublished), and again in High School (also unpublished), and I loved it! I went on to get a degree in fine Art, and forgot about illustration for a little while. But while in school, I took several courses in writing just for fun. A couple of years after getting my Art Degree, I put my love of art and love of writing together, and remembered how much I loved illustrating stories. That inspired me to become an author-illustrator.

Dani: What's different about your approach to illustration?

Lina: I'm not sure what makes my approach to illustration unique, or even if it is unique. When thinking about the illustration, the story comes first. I think about the mood of the story, and what colors would work best. I usually choose a few main colors, and try to stick to those, adding more only if needed. I like to play around with medium. Usually ink, acrylics, colored pencils. I try to think about composition and design, and when thinking about the book as a whole, I consider the "flow" from one page to another.

Dani: Tell us a bit about the research you had to do for "Free as a Bird".

Lina: My research for "Free as a Bird", which is a picture book biography about Malala Yousafzai, began when I read Malala's autobiography. I loved her story, and went on to read the few children's book biographies about her. I also read articles, speeches that she gave, and watched the two documentaries about her. Then I had to do research for the illustrations. For that, I researched her culture, her country and city, her people and their clothing...all those details. I re-watched her documentaries, and occasionally paused them to draw from them. Both the writing and the illustrating required quite a bit of research.

Dani: How did you get your agent?

Lina: I met my agent at a Highlights retreat. It was Pat Cumming's Picture Book Boot Camp. It was a 4-day workshop where we brought book dummies that we were working on, and on the last day, we presented our dummy to an editor, agent, and art director. The agent liked the book, which was "Free as a Bird", and I signed on with him not long after that.

Dani: Any final words to inspire us?

Lina: A lot of times, people ask questions like, "What are the trends?" or "What are agents/editors looking for?"

I think what we should really be asking is:

"What do I want to write about?"

"What is exciting/interesting to me?"

"What makes me laugh?"

"What makes me cry?"

"What inspires me, or brings me joy?"

Chances are, it will excite, interest, inspire, bring joy, and cause others to laugh and cry, too.

Follow Lina


Twitter: @linamaslo

More about Manlala:


Start on Thumbnails today. If you want a great thumnail tempplate then get Alison's here:


  1. Thanks for sharing your process. Congrats on "Free as a Bird" - looking forward to reading it.

  2. Beautiful picture of Malala and beautiful story too. I actually ordered the book because I wanted to feature it in one of my blog posts. I like the emotion you convey in all of your drawings. It's inspiring to me. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a lovely style Lina has! Congrats to her on getting an agent and her first book published.

  4. Lovely post and well done to Lina!

  5. Thank you for sharing your path from idea to book, and mentioning the Pat Cummings Highlights workshop. I've thought about attending for several years now, and I am glad your story got a great boost there! Good luck to your journey!

  6. Thanks for everyone's comments! :)


  7. Lina, your illustrations are gorgeous! And I love that you did a book about Malala - how marvelous!