Jim Jamison, owner of Foggy Noggin Brewing, is well known for his authentic English ales. He is also quickly gaining recognition as the author of "What Would I Be If I Couldn't Be Me?"
“My wife and I were in Hawaii in 2015 about six months after our first granddaughter Abby was born, and I got an inkling to write a children’s book,” Jim said. "I wanted something I could read to her and our future grandchildren … something with thought-provoking stimulation for exploring their imagination."
While contemplating what to write about, Jim said he noticed some interesting cloud formations and thought, “Kids love to look at clouds and imagine what they could be.”
"Is that an airplane ... is that a rabbit, a horse or whatever," Jim pondered,"and that was the beginning of it. If you couldn't be yourself, what would you like to be?"
Jim penned a 30-page draft of the book in roughly a week, but after returning from Hawaii, the project went on the back burner for about a year.
“I ended up giving the book to my daughter Stephanie who was a good illustrator, but hadn’t done anything professionally,” Jim said. “She was studying to be an architect in college, but eventually gravitated toward kinesiology instead.”
Stephanie was, however, interested in producing some illustrations for the book.
"I had found some pictures on the internet and used them as placeholders, but what I really wanted was hand-drawn interpretations of what she could think of instead," Jim said. "And she drew something completely different. They were better than what I could've imagined."
It took a while for Stephanie to come up with all of the illustrations needed for the book, being a mother of two, Jim said, but she finished them in the spring of 2019.
Once the book was finished, the question then became, how many copies should be produced?
“I had three grandchildren at that point and was thinking maybe I’ll give each one of them a copy,” Jim said. “Then I thought why not just bite the bullet and self-publish the thing as it might be fun to do and something we’ll have to pass down through the family. We have a lot of relatives and it might be fun to share it.”
Jim found a publisher after an exhaustive search and was ready to go to print when the COVID pandemic hit and the publisher declared bankruptcy.
"That was a heartbreaker, but we found another one and got the book published in mid-August," Jim said. "It's now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Book Depository ... it's actually out there now and people are buying it and telling me how much they enjoy it."
Jim had no prior experience as a writer but did compose a newsletter about the beer industry in the late 80s.
“We had about 15,000 subscribers all over the world,” Jim said. “But it took a lot of time and effort. I sold it in 1992 and started home brewing, and in 2010 we opened the brewery in Bothell.”
Kim, Jim's wife of 37 years, was the catalyst behind the venture.
“She gave me a homebrew kit. I brewed a lot of bad beer and eventually came to a crossroads … I was either going to figure it out or not do it anymore," Jim said. "I was wanting to make a beer that you couldn't get here locally … brew something that I think I knew what it tasted like having learned a lot about beers I was trying from all over the world in the 70s. So I focused on an English bitter.”
It took Jim more than 100 brews before he hit on the right combination, and the rest, as they say, is history as the Foggy Noggin produces some of the top-of-the line authentic English ales made with imported ingredients.
"We have some very avid followers who just love our beers," Jim said. "This week we are releasing the latest batch of our house ale, which uses 100-year-old perpetual yeast that we import from the Samuel Smith Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England.”
As for additional children’s books, Jim has a couple in the works.
"I've written two more," Jim said. "The one with illustrations is called "Who Is Going to Eat That Bite?" It's a story to make mealtime fun for kids. I am having so much fun being on my grandchildren's level. If you can get kids at the right moment … get them to think outside of what is normal for them, they really like that."
The release date for the books has not been established.