Lee Merrill Byrd, novelist and publisher, was born and raised in New Jersey but has spent most of her life in the Southwest. In 1985, with her husband, poet Bobby Byrd, she founded Cinco Puntos Press, a publishing company named after their neighborhood in El Paso, Texas. Cinco Puntos—a publisher of non-fiction, fiction, poetry and children’s literature—is recognized for bringing the multicultural literatures of the American Southwest, the U.S./Mexico border region and Mexico to a national audience. Lee and Bobby have three children and five grandchildren.
Lee’s collection of short stories, My Sister Disappears, was published by Southern Methodist University Press in 1993. It received a Southwest Book Award and the Stephen F. Turner Award from the Texas Institute of Letters for the best first work of fiction in 1993. In 1997, she was the recipient of the Dobie-Paisano Fellowship. In 2005, she and her husband received Cultural Freedom Fellowships from the Lannan Foundation.
In October 2003, Cinco Puntos published Lee’s first picture book for children, The Treasure on Gold Street, A Neighborhood Story in Spanish and English. It received a Skipping Stones Honor Book Award, a Southwest Book Award, a Paterson Poetry Center Prize, and a Teddy Award from the Texas Writers League.
Cinco Puntos published Lover Boy, A Bilingual Counting Book, in the Fall of 2005. In the Spring of 2006, Algonquin Books published Lee’s first novel, Riley's Fire. People Magazine chose Riley's Fire as one of the top 10 books of 2006.
Here is a fantastic, comprehensive interview with Lee Byrd about her novels and the ins and outs of being a book publisher. Many thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith for featuring this interview on her blog!