NY Publisher Charmed by Edmond
NY Publisher Charmed by Edmond
Daniel Nayeri hoped to be an international spy–but instead, he’s a New York publisher. Unable to completely give up on his dream of a thrill-seeking career, he created an interactive children’s book called “The Most Dangerous Book,“ that actually turns into a working bow! He is also one of Edmond’s biggest fans.
“I have a big smile on my face right now, because we’re talking about Edmond,” Daniel said during a phone interview from Fifth Avenue. “Is Lion’s Fun Park still there? What about the ice-skating rink? Do people still crawl on the rocks at Fink Park?”
Although Nayeri moved to New York 18 years ago, he maintains great enthusiasm for Edmond. Growing up in a town of safety and opportunity is deeply meaningful to this first-generation immigrant whose family escaped from Iranian persecution. As an eight-year old, he deeply feared being unable to speak English, which prompted him to spend a lot of time reading (and later working) at the Edmond Library.
In order to assimilate slang into his vocabulary, Nayeri kept a notebook to jot down fascinating, useful words, like “Cowabunga!” He asked his music teacher to print the lyrics of patriotic songs. “I still remember practicing the phrase, ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt, I love this land, God bless the USA!’”
His once-rocky childhood was soon wrapped up in the sun-kissed glow of living in a small-town atmosphere. “All my favorite memories are with friends: eating ice cream with my youth group, having harrowing adventures at Central Middle School, swimming in the pool while eating the last peaches of August, because they exploded all over.”
Nayeri’s obsession with language gained momentum in high school. “Farsi was my first language, and I spoke tourist Italian, but then I took French and Latin at Edmond Memorial. I was the only kid enrolled in Latin 4. I sat in a room by myself translating Cicero.” For college, Nayeri said he “followed the scent of book-binding glue” to New York City. He studied creative writing, English literature and religion. Based on his library experience, he gained an internship at a publishing house, which eventually led to his book-publishing career.
In April, Nayeri returned to Oklahoma to speak for an audience of writers. Although he was speaking about how he broke into the publishing industry, his talk was more like a confessional on how his childhood taught him that, “You can be anything in America.” As proof, he shared his career resume, which includes ditch digger, skydiving instructor, poet and pastry chef. Each step led him closer to his true calling–putting words on paper in hopes of inspiring big ideas in young people.
Nayeri is working on a new line of interactive, non-fiction children’s books under the Macmillan imprint, Odd Dot. “We create joyful books for curious minds,” Nayeri said. “The idea is that dots are individual little circles, but when dots are put together, they make all the printed material in the world. Just like our publishing team is made up of individuals that come together to be a beautiful, balanced team.”
It seems that a balancing force in Nayeri’s life might be his hometown-raising, which will feature heavily in his forthcoming autobiography. “The beauty of Edmond is that it’s a city distinctly built around relationships and community. New York caters to strangers. You’re around millions of people and you’re still very much alone.” (Cue background chorus: “Cause there ain’t no doubt, I love this land.”) “I miss Edmond so much. I miss my friends. I miss the food. I miss my amazing teachers. I was so influenced by Coach Arndt, who raised our football team on motivational talks. I’m grateful for his leadership training, and I still rely heavily on the concepts he taught us. Thank you Ms. Gordy, Ms. Woodrome and Ms. Harold. I could go on and on articulating my love for Edmond. I can’t wait to visit again.”
To learn more, visit odddot.com.