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Kids' Q&A

James A. Owen

Describe your latest project.
It's been nine years since John, Jack, and Charles became the Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica and battled the Winter King in the Archipelago of Dreams. But now nightmares about giants have brought them together in Oxford once more. A girl named Laura Glue has come to tell them of a crisis in the Archipelago: all of the fabled Dragonships are missing, and worse, all of the children are gone too. And she's been sent to seek help from the last Caretaker, Sir James Barrie.

The Caretakers must take the rebuilt Indigo Dragon into one of the oldest parts of the Archipelago to find the only thing that might lead them to solve the mysteries — the long-vanished Red Dragon, which was once the Argo. Along the way, they learn about the difference between growing up and growing old.

  1. The Search for the Red Dragon (Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica #02)
    $17.99 New Hardcover add to wishlist
    "This second book in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica is spellbinding, with adventures, puzzles and charming hints of childhood literature." KLIATT
  2. Here, There Be Dragons (Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica #01)
    $5.95 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist
    "Owen's magnificent story, which he also beautifully illustrated, will appeal to all fantasy fans." VOYA
What fictional character would you like to be your friend, and why?
Charles Wallace Murry, from A Wrinkle in Time (and the books that followed). The openness of his mind was what allowed him to travel through space and time, and to meet fantastic beings (an old woman who was once a star, for example). That kind of characteristic would make him a great dinner companion and an interesting friend. Plus, I wouldn't have minded meeting his extraordinary family, either!

If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
All of them! That's one reason my devices — the Imaginarium Geographica and the Archipelago of Dreams — are so fun to play with: I can touch any story, real or imagined, historical or mythical, and put my characters into it. And to better answer your question, ask two more: Who gets to play in stories more than the Caretakers? And who might the Caretakers be today?

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"Whatever you do, don't think of elephants." —Chip Kidd, The Cheese Monkeys

Do you read the Sunday funnies, and which are your favorites?
Yes! I think I love Mutts the most. It's classic cartooning — the forms and linework are deceptively simple, but can convey a wealth of meaning. It always charms, often delights, and sometimes touches one's heart. You can't ask more out of a few panels of pen and ink.

I also still love The Far Side, and Calvin and Hobbes is hard to beat.

What was your favorite story as a child?
My absolute favorite book, which contains my favorite stories to this day, is the D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths — big oversized illustrated orange-and-yellow hardcover. It's still in print (happily), and is the foundation for my love of Greek mythology, which is evident in Here, There Be Dragons and The Search for the Red Dragon (and even more so in the next book, The Indigo King). I think every reader should see this book at least once in a lifetime.

What is your idea of bliss?
A pile of old DC comics (1980–1983), an ice-cold bottle of Vernors Ginger Ale (my favorite!), a comfy chair, and no deadlines for at least three days.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronomer. Which is one of the reasons we're planning to build an observatory dome on top of the new exterior stairwell at my studio. Carl Sagan was one of my personal heroes, and I spent many long cold nights outside, looking at the stars.

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James A. Owen wrote and illustrated Here, There Be Dragons. He is founder and executive director of Coppervale International, an art and design studio that also publishes the periodicals International Studio and Argosy Quarterly, develops television and film projects, and is redesigning an entire town, among other ventures. James has written and illustrated two dozen Starchild comics, the Mythworld series of novels (published in Germany and France), and more. He lives in Arizona.


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