Three-time award-winning author, Joseph Drumheller, has teamed up with award-winning illustrator, Lili Avakem, for their first children’s picture book. It's their first of nine books picked up by Golden Bell Entertainment in New York. Their work, Jason and the Crawdad King, was showcased on October 13, 2016, in Hollywood, CA at Boulevard 3, as part of an exclusive engagement presented by the international artist organization, RAW. An assortment of other illustrated works were also be presented by Ms. Avakem.
Iranian-born Avakem and US-native Drumheller are extremely honored to be hand-picked by RAW Directors for this special showing in Hollywood. Their work supports the international mission of RAW, by promoting high caliber artwork while embracing cultural diversity.
Adorned with 14 masterful color illustrations, Jason and the Crawdad King spins a magical adventure, unveiling the wonder of creativity. Guaranteed to spark the inner world of children and adults alike, this childhood gem is destined to find its place among the most beloved bedtime favorites.
The book will be available in early 2017 at Golden Bell to the delight of children everywhere.
Jason and the Crawdad King is a magical adventure unveiling the wonder of creativity. JASON, the young explorer, adventures down a river of wonder in his beautiful wooden boat. While floating along, he saves a frightened CRAWDAD tangled in a fisherman’s line. Surprisingly, the crawdad turns out to be an enchanted KING. In return for his kindness, the king gives Jason a magical reward, by opening the doors to his exceptional imagination—a gift he will treasure for the rest of his days!
What was your motivation behind writing Jason and the Crawdad King?
In August of 2015, I found a crawdad tangled up in a fishing line while I was whitewater kayaking. My wife Tamara and a paddling friend of mine both said, “That would make a great children’s book.” The next day, I wrote the story on the back of a few napkins while sipping tea at a coffee shop.
Why don’t you illustrate your own book?
Besides being an author, I’m also a visual artist. I’ve had my pictures hung of the walls of galleries in New York City, Boise, ID, Bellingham, WA and Spokane, WA. It’s all been abstract art and woodwork. I couldn’t draw my way out of a wet paper bag, if my life depended on it!
Plus, I’ve always worked alone. It gets lonely. With children’s books, I wanted to collaborate with someone else and get beyond myself and my secluded little studio.
How did you and illustrator Lili Avakem meet?
Lili and I met via the modus operandi of the 21st century…the Internet. I was hoping to find an artist who was exceptionally talented, in love with illustrating, relatively unknown (like me), and hadn’t reached their full potential yet (hopefully like me too!). In short, I was hoping for an enormous stroke of good luck.
I held a contest on Freelancer.com, searching for samples from illustrators. Lili beat out 25 other entries. However, to win the contract to illustrate the entire book, I asked Lili and another artist from Thailand to submit one more illustration. I took one glance at Lili’s second submission and my jaw dropped to the floor in utter disbelief. I realized the enormous stroke of good luck I was hoping for had actually arrived.
As I sit and write this, I still haven’t met Lili face-to-face. All of our interaction has been via email. I eagerly look forward to the day we meet. I hope she's not a computer!
How long did it take you to finish this book?
From the time I scratched it out on a napkin, until the day I recieved the final illustration from Lili, the time span was about eight months. It was a lot of back-and-forthing with Lili via emai, and one heck of a lot of fun. Every time I opened a new illustration from Lili, I felt like it was my birthday.
What was the hardest part about creating this book?
Quite honestly, I’d have to say nothing. It’s the only project I’ve ever worked on that was positive, from beginning to end. It was an absolute act of creative joy. I wish everyone could have an experience like this in creating something they truly love.
What’s the old saying? “If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Is this book is part of a series?
Not yet. I intentionally wanted to stay away from a series in case this book was rejected for publication. If this book got rejected, so would the entire series. However, if it’s successful, I’m sure we can cook up a series.
How Did You Get Published?
After Lili and I finished the manuscript, I sent out queries to about 120 literary agents and publishers. After about a month, as rejection notices started to pile up, I was contacted out of the blue by Golden Bell Entertainment in New York. I never submitted anything to them. They contacted me based on an illustration of Lili’s I posted on Facebook. Go figure!
What are you working on next?
Aura the Angel, The Ballerina’s Beacon. It’s a children's picture book about a my wife Tamara, a ballerina who came to earth to teach children the true meaning of dance. I’m very excited about this one!