The County Voice

Update from Wash…The Pumpkin Patch?

Everyone has a life away from the office, a hobby or passion that we pursue outside of business hours. In my spare time, I raise succulents and create jewelry. CSAC legislative representative Farrah McDaid Ting fosters kittens until they are old enough for adoption; Geoff Neill, also a CSAC legislative representative,  hosts a monthly poetry reading; and CSAC legislative assistant Karen Schmelzer does cross-stitch embroidery. Even our federal lobbyists have lives outside of work. We recently found out that Joe Krahn, president and managing partner of Paragon Government Relations (PGR), has added a new title to his resume. Joe Krahn is also a children’s book author.

We reached out to Joe to learn a little bit more about his new book, published just in time for Halloween. 

Tell us about your inspiration for writing The Adventures of Captain Pumpkin Head.

The inspiration for the book dates back to the fall of 2014. At the time, I was emailing with my sister about her Halloween plans and our conversation turned to her son, Benji, who had just gotten a pumpkin. Knowing that my nephew has a wonderful sense of imagination, I asked my sister to let him know that once his pumpkin had been carved into a jack-o-lantern it might do some strange and interesting things, like move around the house at night when he was sleeping.

From there, the character of Captain Pumpkin Head just sprang to life. Incidentally, it wasn’t until 2018 that I decided to transform what was a series of emails into an actual adventure book. If you’re interested, you can read more about the genesis of the story here.

Are there any ways that being a children’s author is similar to being a federal lobbyist?

Oh gosh – that’s a loaded question! (I’ll keep my would-be attempt at humor in check for this one.) Seriously, though, there are some similarities, namely that both disciplines require good storytelling aimed at achieving a certain outcome. On the lobbying side of the equation, my job and that of my colleagues is to paint the CA county picture for lawmakers with an end goal of advancing good public policy. Likewise, being a children’s author requires the weaving of a good tale, though the objective is to entertain and bring smiles to readers’ faces :)

Why the rap songs?

I’ve always loved music. Ironically, rap is not my favorite genre, though I do like some of what’s out there.

Truth be told, I’m not sure how the Captain ended up being a rapper. At some point early on in the story-writing process, it just came to me that this crazy pumpkin should be musical – and rapping seemed to be a good fit.

As I was nearing completion of the book, my wife, Esme, suggested that I record the raps. For context, I’m a self-taught guitar player and have been known to rap and sing around the house – though let’s just say that I’ve never considered leaving my day job for the music industry! On that note, I look forward to serving the interests of CSAC in the federal policy arena well into the future!

Okay, back to our story. Without any experience in recording music, I did a GarageBand self-tutorial on my computer and was soon off and running. There’s four audio tracks connected to the book, all of which are available on the Captain Pumpkin Head website.

Is there a book 2 in the works? Or another book idea?

I’d absolutely love to write a sequel. I have music, plot, and character ideas for the second installment of what I hope will be a Captain Pumpkin Head series. I also have a few other ideas for potential books, but no immediate plans to write them.

A huge THANKS to CSAC for the opportunity to introduce folks to Captain Pumpkin Head. If you’re interested, you can always check out to learn more about the Captain’s Universe. In the meantime, Happy Halloween, everyone!


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