A California Legacy Project

My work this summer as Publisher’s Intern has included a whole array of interesting tasks, but by far the most daunting assignment was one I initially thought would be quite simple. About a month ago, Heyday publisher Malcolm Margolin came to me with an important task: one of Heyday’s imprints, California Legacy, is coming up on its ten-year celebration, along with the institution created around this publishing partnership with Santa Clara University. It was time to sum up the project’s achievements in order to construct a plan for the next ten years. Simple enough, I thought, only to find out this ten-year summation wasn’t going to be a quick couple of pages but a detailing of some of the most extraordinary accomplishments.

What exactly is California Legacy, you ask? Well, it’s not a one-sentence answer. The California Legacy book series is a Heyday imprint with a total of forty-three titles. One of the project’s initial undertakings was to put back into circulation in a more modern format some of California’s essential literature from the past, literature that had been out of print for years. As the series grew, anthologies and single-author readers were added, and it quickly became a collection of all shapes and sizes, together promoting California’s literary heritage.

The series I expected. All of Heyday’s publications are thoughtful, beautiful, and enormously educational. But as I began organizing the report, I quickly realized the project includes much more than just the book series.

California Legacy also includes, in partnership with National Public Radio affiliate KAZU, a radio anthology that features brief dramatic readings from California literature. Numerous events have been centered around the series, including readings, performances, and panel discussions, all with the goal of raising awareness of California’s landscape, culture, and literary history. Santa Clara University has even adopted much of the series into student courses and has created an actual class dedicated to the development of the radio anthology. To fathom all of the project’s achievements would mean reading fifteen pages (or rather, the entire report I put together). Instead, why don’t you check it out for yourself here.

Putting together this report meant digging through a ton of archived material, talking with former interns, and skimming through some of these great books. Amongst the hundreds of reviews and piles of research material strewn across my desk, I discovered something that was truly special. Like most things Heyday, the collection of people and literature within the California Legacy Project left me stunned and inspired. I believe you’ll feel the same.

Part of my assignment was to also develop an illustration concept for the cover of the project. This was by far the most fun aspect of the report, while also being quite a rewarding experience. With input from Heyday staff, I sat down with Annette Filice, the author and illustrator of Heyday’s Pacific Pup blog series, and asked her to create something wonderful. Thank goodness Annette understood what it was I was looking for; I can’t say my art direction was all that helpful. But the experience was great, and the final product spectacular. Make sure you come back next week to see Annette’s blog post on coming up with the illustration.

Alex (Publisher’s Intern)

Update(08/18/10): Annette’s blog post is now up!