James A. Owen is the founder and executive director of the art and design studio Coppervale International. James has written and illustrated two dozen StarChild comics, the award-winning MythWorld series of novels, the bestselling series The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, the inspirational nonfiction trilogy The Meditations, and more. More than a million copies of his publications are in print, and are sold all over the world.

Drawing Out the Dragons by James A. Owen

DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS: A Meditation on Art, Destiny, and the Power of Choice – James is often asked to speak at schools, but many booksellers, educators, and students have been surprised to realize that when he does, he barely talks about his fiction books at all. Instead, he talks about the things that he believes are most important in this life; about things he believes are True, and meaningful, and worth sharing.

He tells stories drawn from his own life: examples about overcoming obstacles and adversity; stories about how making choices in their lives is like drawing a Dragon; vignettes about how he came to do what it is that he loves most in the world for his job. But most importantly, he tells each and every one of them that they can make the same kinds of choices that he did – and that he believes in them.

Sometimes, being told that is the thing that we need most in our lives. And James thinks it's the most important thing that he can say to anyone: I believe in you. This book is not fiction, but stories drawn from his own life and experiences, which he hopes will inspire and motivate readers all over the world.


James Artimus Owen is not only my very good friend, but he's also one of the most inspirational speakers I have ever seen. I've heard him give his "Drawing out the Dragons" talk a dozen times, and I was moved by it each time. It is an exceptionally important book on creativity and inspiration. I am really pleased to present the book version to you here. – Kevin J. Anderson



  • "In this book, James inspires and motivates both the young and young-at-heart with personal stories that share an important belief: that you can choose to lead an extraordinary life if you will just persevere, stay focused on your goals, and believe in yourself. James believes in you. And I believe in him."

    – LeVar Burton
  • "In an autobiographical meditation brimming with exuberance and hope...James A. Owen seeks to show how we can all harness our potential and become luminaries in the world...Owen's story contains no shortage of potentially catastrophic incidents. To his credit, and to the reader's delight, he relates these with both tranquility and humor... So, too, can we all forge our personal success stories, Owen insists. We can reject the temptations of regret and fear, without which "there's nothing left but possibility and joy." We can actualize our grandest dreams, and bring them to bear for the good of humanity. These are lofty propositions, but Owen delivers them with such charm and conviction that readers will find it difficult to escape his enchantment. This work is an astounding manifesto for creativity, sure to alternately move and inspire its readers."

    – Michelle Anne Schingler, Foreword Reviews




I am often asked to speak at schools, and I find that the teachers, librarians, and booksellers who invite me to speak are often surprised that I very rarely speak about my novels. At all. There's a good reason for that. The reason is because I believe that there are reading groups, dedicated librarians, community-active booksellers, and, best of all, excellent teachers who are all more than happy to discuss the Dragons, and myths, and legends, and storytelling in my books with their students. So if I am given the attention of five hundred middle-school students for an hour, and only that hour, I'm not going to talk about my novels. I'm going to talk about the things that I believe are most important, the things which have served me well in the course I have taken in this life.

I'm going to talk about the things I believe are most true, and meaningful, and worth sharing. I'm going to tell them stories drawn from my own life: examples about overcoming obstacles and adversity, stories about how making choices in life is like drawing a Dragon, and vignettes about heritage and destiny, and ultimately how I came to do what it is that I love most in the world for my job.

That's an incredibly important point. It's part of what makes giving a motivational talk geared towards middle-school-aged listeners (and older) so significant to me: I love to make illustrations. I love to tell stories. And I believe there's nothing better in the world than getting to do what you love the most for your job.

The choices I've made in my life and career are what allow me to do that, and those choices are a large part of the stories I want to share. I want the people who hear me speak and read what I write to understand that our lives are nothing but a series of choices—and that you always, always, have the chance to choose a different path.

Stories are how we communicate to others the choices we have made; they are part of what bind us together as communities, as cultures, and as the never-ending family we call the Human Race. To me, stories are also the best way to convey what I believe is most necessary for one human being to communicate to another, and I think it's the most significant thing that I can say to anyone: I believe in you. And I will not let you fall.

Sometimes, being told that, by someone we trust, is what we need most in our lives. And sometimes just believing that, even for an instant, may mean the difference between a terrible choice and a redemptive one, especially for someone who is so beaten down by despair and hopelessness that they don't realize how many choices they still have. How many choices they have always had.

Until now, most readers could not hear that message unless they attended a school, or some signing event where I was speaking, which is why I have long considered putting these stories, these things I most believe, into a book.

A book that is, I feel, the most meaningful thing I've ever written.

I have always believed that if you create and offer something of value, people will return that value to you tenfold, a hundredfold, and more. Those who have heard my presentations, or who have been inspired by my writings, either online or in my books, know—know—that Magic is real . . . and worth looking for. It exists in the world, and there are people who know how to show you where it is.

I hope that with this book, I might be one of those people for you. I'd like to show each and every one of you that you can make the same kinds of choices that I did. Our paths may be different, and everyone's mileage varies, but none of us is in competition with anyone else. All we are here to do is find our purpose and make the choices that keep us on as straight a path towards fulfilling that purpose as we can.

Share the Magic that you find in this book. And, hopefully, it will inspire you to make more good choices in your own life and help you see that the Magic isn't hard to find, after all. Because it's everywhere. And sometimes, in order to see it, you just need someone you believe in, someone you trust, to take you by the hand, look into your eyes, and say, "I believe in you. And I will not let you fall."

At the very least, I hope you'll enjoy some entertaining stories, and possibly learn how to draw a Dragon. But it's also possible that there's a story in this book that you need to hear, right now. That alone is reason enough not to wait to share these—the most valuable stories I have—because all it takes is a moment of belief, a moment of true Magic, to make the difference.

In a moment, with a single brave choice, your world can change—and you, too, can begin to lead an extraordinary life.