We asked Lee Byrd to talk with us about publishing, creativity and Día.
My name is Lee Byrd. My husband Bobby and I are both writers. In 1985, we started Cinco Puntos Press. Funny, how things start, take root and grow—we were sick and tired of working for other people, we had three kids to support, and we wanted more time to write. (If you need more time to write, don’t start a publishing company!) We had no idea what publishers did, but luckily we had a lot of friends whose work we admired who weren’t getting published; and we had another friend who knew how to design books.
Our first book was Winners on the Pass Line, a collection of short stories by Dagoberto Gilb; our second, a book of poems by Joe Somoza. Then we met Joe Hayes. He was traveling all over the Southwest telling stories to kids. They loved him! We asked him if we could publish a book of his and he said it would have to be La Llorona / The Weeping Woman because that was the story the kids wanted to hear the most. And we would need to do it in a bilingual format because that was the way he liked to tell stories. Thus began our journey into children’s literature. Twenty-five years have passed and we’re still learning, each book—whether for kids or adults—taking us into new and miraculous territory.
Publishing is very creative work. Like writing, it’s a marvelous act of self-discovery. A manuscript comes to us. We love it. We see it opening up new doors of understanding to readers. But how to present it, how to get it illustrated or designed and who will do that? Who is the audience and how best to present it to that audience? When the book arrives from the printer, we all feel like its proud parents. It’s such a creative and collaborative process, no one knows exactly where his or her work started and where someone else picked it up.
At Cinco Puntos, we love El día de los niños, El día de los libros because we see the festivities surrounding it and the excitement that the kids have as a way of raising up the next generation of readers, who will, hopefully, read books that we—and our colleagues in this incredible work—have created.
|John, Lee and Bobby Byrd