I wrote these 23 books all by myself over the space of eight or 28 years, depending on how you're counting. Bliss in Space was written three times between 1975 and 1999. One rewritten novel and 21 new books, including the sequel Leftover Bliss (which somehow took only seven weeks) came between 1996 and 2004. None of them was published, which led me to create Owl 52 Press and to several cohorts for whose contributions I'm deeply grateful. It's a pleasure, having spent 42 years in collaborative magazine journalism, to say that again.
The guiding light behind Owl 52 Press is Mike Gerber, a Yale friend. "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty told Alice, "it means what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less," and the same can apply to phrases like "a Yale friend." Mike and I did both go to Yale, we were each Chairman of The Yale Record humor magazine, but I graduated in 1952 and Mike in 1991. We met when he launched an alumni effort to help the Record and invited me along. He's the author of the novel Freshman and three delightful Harry Potter parodies starring Barry Trotter, they've sold over 1.1 million copies worldwide, and the first was launched on the internet. Out of enormous generosity, Mike has helped me create Owl 52 Press every step of the way without recompense. If you'd like to buy one of his books and help me repay my debt to him, click here..
Ann Sullivan, who was also in the class of '91 and on the Record, designed all these books. Mike introduced us and I probably couldn't have met her any other way because she lives in Iowa, where I know only three other people. She brought forth exactly the sort of books I had in my mind's eye, for which I am most appreciative: It takes a true artist to create what somebody else has in mind and be original. There were five people in her graduating class in high school in Iowa and, based on my experience with Ann, I'm dying to meet the other four.
Two artists so far have illustrated the children's books in this collection.
I lost touch with Glen Michaels for 52 years. Glen was a music major at Yale before switching to the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and he and I did a series of poems with drawings called "The Other Sex Illustrated" for the Record – maybe another book? – then went this way and that, he to become a creator of uniquely beautiful assemblages and murals that are mounted from Milan to New York to Spokane. When Owl 52 Press got dreamed up, I located him, called him up, and asked if he'd like to partner up again. He said he'd love to because illustrations are his great love. I'm not sure that's true but I'm glad he feels that way. His gorgeous art illustrates The Bear and the Sky, The Donkey Who Had a Lovely Voice, and the novel Bliss in Space.
Gerry Hotchkiss, my Yale 1952 classmate, friend in Bedford, N.Y. for years, and husband of Patty, friend and fellow councilperson on the Bedford Town Board, illustrated One Hundred Million Wombats just because he read it while visiting us and liked it. That was in 2000, and now his effort is seeing the light of day. Gerry was a magazine publisher and I only vaguely remembered that he loved to draw, but I was smitten by his stylish interpretations of my wombats, and the rest I hope will be history.
The fictional mascot of The Yale Record is a cranky creature called "The Old Owl." I'd also like to thank him, her, or it for the use of his, her, or its name in this company's title. You can probably see where the "52" comes from.Richard Lemon