Drazin with young fans at the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library earlier this month. (Photo by Alexis Orlacchio. Click to enlarge)


Justin Drazin did not originally plan to add the title “children’s author” to his résumé, but what started out as a short piece to show family and friends has evolved into a trilogy of whimsical tales. And along the way, the Fair Haven-raised environmental policy student  turned one of his childhood fears into a captivating bedtime story for kids.

Drazin, 24, recalls being terrified of the dark when he was younger.  “I had a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of going back and forth to my parents’ room,” he said, removing his brown thick-framed glasses during a recent interview.  “It’s an age-long fear. Everyone goes through it at some point.”

Written from the point of view of a little boy afraid of the dark, “Albert and the Amazing Pillow Monsters” is the first installment of the dreamland-centered series.

Located “just at the end of the blanket wave,” Albert travels to meet the monsters of the pillow cave, and discovers there’s nothing frightening about these cottony creatures.

“The monsters are telling him he has this imagination and creativity,” Drazin said. “Once you embrace that, then you can really get through your fear.”

As a child himself, Drazin said, he was captivated “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak, which has remained a favorite of his, as have the works of Dr. Seuss. “I was very passionate about reading when I was younger, and a lot of picture books are what got me through being afraid of the dark,” he said.

According to Drazin, creative writing was a hobby throughout his high school years. He said Eric “Gus” Gustavson, an English teacher at the Peddie School in Highstown,  inspired him to explore his writing more in-depth. “Along with being a great teacher, he is a great friend and mentor,” he said.

Drazin said he wanted to create a story that would help children with their fears. “When you see something you can connect with, it puts your mind at ease about the things you’re terrified of,” He said. “You can get through it and once you do it you can help other people through it.”

The total process took about six months, he said.

“It started out as maybe a six- or eight-line poems, and it just builds on itself,” he said.

When he finished the story, Drazin began the search for an illustrator. After examining about 75 submissions, he selected a piece created by Australian singer/songwriter Anita Lester. “This one just caught my eye,” he said.  “I told her I wanted a cave scene with a young boy by fire and a pillow monster. I told her to take it wherever she wanted to.”

Drazin was impressed with Lester’s work. “She created something beautiful,” he said. The picture that landed Lester the job is featured in the book.

The second and third installments of the series have been completed. The second book focuses on the dream Albert has the following night, a dream takes place on a beach, which Drazin said reminded him of home.

“I love the beach, and my family is still in Fair Haven,” he said.  His father, Brian Drazin, is a partner in the well-known Red Bank law firm Drazin and Warshaw, which was started by his grandfather, Louis Drazin.

In addition to children’s stories, Drazin also enjoys writing screenplays more suit for his age cohort. “It’s just something that I like to do,” he said. “It gets you away from normal everyday life. You can write about whatever you want.”

Drazin, who lives in New York City, graduated from Columbia University in December with a master’s in sustainability management. Ideally, he said he would like to have a career in the environmental field.

But no matter what career path he chooses, Drazin said he plans to continue writing, and he urges others with the yen to do the same.

“A lot of people have ideas for books and never go through with them,” he said.  A lot of work and preparation goes into the final product, he said, “but it’s definitely worth it.”

Justin Drazin is scheduled to appear at Sickles Market for “Kids Day” on Sunday and again at River Road Books in Fair Haven on Saturday, May 4th, at 2 p.m.