“The only thing bigger than his appetite was his heart.” That’s how local award-winning author Ryan Wakefield described his best friend and the pet who changed his life.
“I was just sitting on a patio chair one day and next thing I know, this large, loving cat jumped up into my lap,” he said. “This unexpected visitor decided right then and there that he was staying with me, and I became a pet owner.”
He named his new friend Albert.
“I was amazed at how large he was compared to other cats; he could easily push open my heavy sliding door when he wanted out and he even taught himself how to turn on the faucet to get a fresh drink of water,” said Wakefield, who explained that while amusing, it was not so funny when Albert did that when he was at work, especially when the water bills arrived.
The two were fast friends for 13 years until Albert succumbed to poor health. That’s when Wakefield, an accomplished graphic artist, decided to make Albert the lead character in a new fantasy adventure novel to honor his memory.
Wakefield, a Riverview resident, always had a dream of writing a fantasy novel for young readers. Since he was young, he envisioned creating a fantasy world filled with colorful, hybrid animals. He loved the idea of blending two or three animals together to create a magnificent new species and dreamed about breathing life into a world filled with those creatures. That dream recently became a reality with the publication of his award-winning debut novel titled Journey to Jumbalot for young readers aged 11-14.
The book’s premise is about an engineer’s housecat, Alby, and his adventurous search for his missing friend named Professor Vincent Wizoom. Wizoom is a brilliant engineer and builds an unusual triangular doorway inside his laboratory. Following the completion of the doorway, Wizoom mysteriously vanishes. To Alby’s astonishment, the doorway opens independently and his compassion for his missing friend gives him the strength to venture through the door and find himself transported to a strange, new world—Jumbalot.
Jumbalot is not a typical fantasy world filled with dragons, elves and goblins. No, Jumbalot is inhabited with hybrid animals called jumboos that include the following: menacing mantaravens, friendly froguars, courageous tigeroons, wise pandowls and much more.
Journey to Jumbalot is the recent recipient of multiple awards.
Visit www.jumbalot.com to learn more about the novel, which is available as e-book or paperback via Amazon.