Maya Gabeira has written the most beautiful children’s book: “Maya and the Beast”

For some years, Maya Gabeira has been working on something very different from her usual gig. She writes books.

You know Gabeira, of course, as a two-time Guinness World Record holder for big wave surfing and a seven-time World Surf League Big Wave Award winner. She’s been tackling big waves for years now, battling not just the waves themselves, but also the haters who inherently scream from the sidelines when a woman dips her toe in a spot that’s traditionally a testosterone wells.

But through it all, from her childhood to the present day, Maya just put her head down, got the job done, and accomplished exactly what she set out to accomplish. And his books – two stories for children and a memoir for young adults – reflected that resilience.

His first picture book, Maya and the Beast, releases in hardcover and e-book editions on August 2. Next year, in the spring of 2023, his young adult memoir will hit the shelves. Then, in the fall of 2023, her second picture book will be available. A three-book deal is an impressive feat for an established writer, let alone someone who, by her own admission, hadn’t thought of becoming a writer until a good title for a book hit her then. that she was walking.

Maya and the Beast by Maya Gabeira

The idea for maya and the beast came to Gabeira on a walk with her dogs. Image courtesy of Abrams Books.

“It happened right there,” she told me on the phone one morning in July. “I had never thought of it before…I was hiking with my dogs every day around Nazaré, and the title came to me. I thought, ‘oh my god, that would be so much fun.’

And so, in the same way that dictated how she moves in the rest of her life, she put her head down and did it. The first of the books maya and the beastfollows a young girl with asthma who dreams of surfing big waves.

maya and the beast is an even bigger fairy tale of big waves and bravery, inspired by her personal story of resilience, defying the expectations of women in sport and daring to achieve the impossible,” explained a statement from publisher, Abrams Books. . “Magnificently illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, maya and the beast is an uplifting reminder that every fear can be conquered. While everyone in her town is afraid of “the Beast”, the giant wave heard around the world, young Maya finds it comforting. If only she could tame it, then everyone would see the beauty it has to offer.

Gabeira had a contact interested in co-writing a biography, but she knew that if she was writing a book, she wanted to write something for young readers. Her sister is a child psychologist and her father, a Brazilian politician and journalist, is the author of 14 books. She is inspired by it, with her nephew, to draw inspiration from her work.

Children’s stories may seem simple, but can be difficult to write. Big ideas should be written in a simple and understandable way, and the morals should be clear – it’s not an easy task.

“How can you share such great emotions with children? ” she says. “How can you make it relevant to them in a way they can understand? It was definitely a challenge. But the whole team – my editor, my agent, my father, my sister, my nephew – I take inspiration from everyone.

Ramona Kaulitzki, the artist behind maya and the beastalso illustrated books like Sisters First, Badger’s Perfect Garden, Wonderful You, and more. After seeing her work, Gabeira knew she wanted to collaborate with her.

“I had a lot of options, and Ramona was my first choice,” Gabeira said. “When she accepted, it was wonderful.”

Maya and the Beast by Maya Gabeira

maya and the beast is illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki. Image courtesy of Abrams Books.

Fortunately, his sudden desire to write coincided with a strange time in human history that gave him enough freedom to fully devote himself to it.

“During the pandemic, when I had time, I thought of a few things I wanted to accomplish,” she explained. But when she found out how long the publishers hoped her memoir would last, she was understandably a little nervous.

“I had never written before, at least to this extent,” she laughed. “They said 60 or 70,000 words, and I was like, ‘oh my god.’ But luckily, I had booked a trip to the Mentawais with my photographer for two months.

She went to work. “We had quarantine to do, so I was stuck in a hotel room for five days,” she continued. “I just wrote. I wrote about 50,000 words in five days. That’s how I made my young adulthood. I don’t think I could have done it any other way. Thinking back, it was the perfect way to force me to do something that wasn’t so natural to me. Otherwise I would have been surfing, then training, then getting tired. When else in the life could I really stop everything to be able to concentrate on something on this level?

Writing has been described as “staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead”, but for Gabeira, that was not the case.

“I think, think, think, think until my head explodes. Then I sit down and get out of there just as fast as I can,” she explained. writing. I don’t just sit and stare at a blank page. I pull it out. It was a pretty chaotic thing that happened. Papers were flying around, lots of rambling and thinking, lots of little papers with notes… I had no idea what I was doing. Then, of course, my amazing editor finally helped me tie it up. I love the way it came out.”

When it comes to young adult memoirs, it has been difficult at times. Writing memoirs requires some self-examination which can certainly be difficult.

“Thinking about memories; reliving and reliving memories of 13 to 24 year olds is hard,” she says. “You try to go back to those times and remember how you felt. It was an interesting process. It was very difficult to go back to some of those things. At the same time, I’m very grateful. I feel more grateful than anything else to have had all those experiences. They’re all part of who I am, so it’s nice to make peace with some things and go back to that time and see what it feels like now.

When I asked her if there was a common thread between the three books, she laughed. “It’s hard,” she said. “They are all so different. But I just hope a lot of people can relate. I hope people can relate to it and see the ways that I was able to overcome. I hope people can take away a message of resilience – to carry on – while being grateful. I think a lot of parts of my stories are about that.

You can find copies of maya and the beast here.