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Alumni Profiles
reed magazine logoAutumn 2009

Publishing Grandma

My grandma, Eva Rutland, is 92 and blind. She’s written over 20 books, mostly Harlequin Romances, sweet romances (i.e., no sex). A couple of years ago, as a family, we started a little publishing company and reissued her first book, When We Were Colored, a Mother’s Story; a memoir of a middle-class black woman who grew up in Atlanta, moved West after World War II and raised her four children in Sacramento, California. It’s a happy story about black people before the civil rights movement. I didn’t know there were happy stories about black people in those days until I read my grandma’s book.

Fields with grandmother

I am Chief Financial Officer, Vice President, Publicist, Accountant, Personal Assistant and whatever other title I choose to give myself. Mom and I run the company and Grandma is the artist. Like all artists, she has her idiosyncrasies. She always says that she doesn’t want to bother anybody, and couches her requests with phrases such as “Whenever it is convenient for you, honey,” which means NOW.

Grandma insists on coffee every morning. The coffee has to be so hot it burns her mouth and cannot be warmed in the microwave. Don’t ask me how a blind woman knows the difference, but she does. She refuses to use a mug, so you have to fill her china cup four or five times a morning. If it’s not hot enough to burn her mouth, it won’t do, and she wants another one “whenever it’s convenient,” i.e., now.

Nonetheless, this has been the most rewarding time in my whole life. I have a day job at the California state capitol, but I much prefer working with my mom and grandma. In two years, we’ve sold over 5,000 books and I couldn’t be prouder. We are republishing another of my grandma’s books, No Crystal Stair. It’s a fictionalized romance based on her life, but not fictional enough for me. I just read a description of my grandparents’ wedding night and all I have to say is, “Yuck.”

—Eva Fields ’08
Eva is CFO, COO, and C3PO for IWP Book Publishers of Sacramento, California.

reed magazine logoAutumn 2009