Sunday, April 14, 2024

‘Dare to dream bigger’: 20-year-old Victoria-based children’s author publishing second book

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Inspiration reaches us in the most unexpected ways, and often, at the most unexpected times. 

And for young, 20-year-old Nikolai Deleff, that was exactly the case. 

Deleff is an illustrator, and entrepreneur from Yellowknife, NWT, studying Creative Writing at the University of Victoria and is thrilled to welcome his entertaining second book, Superdog Jake, into the world on February 10th!

He will be touring schools and chatting with students about the new book, which highlights the importance of friendship, creativity, and trying to make good decisions.

Some book signings in and around Victoria may be on the horizon too, but in the meantime, they’ll be available at Russell Books, Books & Shenanigans, Ivy’s Books, Bolen Books for purchase! 

And although he’s a lot more prepared for the process the second time around, writing and illustrating was not where he initially imagined his life heading. 

(Nikolai Deleff sharing his book)

In an interview with Victoria Buzz, he said he had his moment of inspiration while hospitalized and struggling with Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 18.

Throughout his frequent visits, and often overnight stays, he was introduced to the transformative power of art and his first book Bear and Ivory—inspired by growing up in the north—emerged and took him down a new and surprising path of writing and illustrating.

“I was pretty sick around the holidays—they were trying to figure out what was wrong, and during all of that chaos I received a sketchbook, and I’d always drawn as a kid, so I started to sketch again,” said Deleff.

He added that his mom, the doctors, and the nurses would pass by and see what he was doing, offering their input and excitement regarding his work.

“It was in a moment where I was receiving a lot of support and encouragement in a really fragile time and it rerouted my focus…[then] the first picture book came together.”

(Scene from book, Bear and Ivory / Nikolai Deleff)

When asked if what he would’ve been doing had he not chosen this path, he laughed and said that it’s hard to know for sure. 

Receiving the feedback he did and being able to feel excited and driven towards a goal while going through such a trying time snapped things into place and made his choice to create the one that made the most sense. 

“I’d never done anything like it before, so it was very magical to bring it all together like that,” Deleff said.

“In addition to sketching, I took lots of notes and jotted ideas down and that sparked the story ideas. Creating evolves as you work on it more and more…so things just started to connect.”

And now he’s back with another charming and inspirational story in hopes of inspiring others to embrace their struggles, discover their strengths in art, and dare to dream bigger.

As he describes, Superdog Jake is an adventure story that follows Jake the dog’s birthday adventure, promoting themes of friendship, decision-making, and imagination through fun dialogue and stunning images. 

“[Superdog Jake] was inspired by my own dog, so it’s taken from a person I have grounded in real life…drawing my dog has really brought passion into this story.”

“It’s fun and playfull!”

Perhaps one day he will release a children’s book detailing his diagnosis too! If you wish to purchase Deleff’s books, stay up to date with his projects, book tours, and signings, you can do so on his website.

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