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Miami Memories: Alumni’s children’s book spotlights Miami stories

Miami alum Patrick Geyser illustrated "Miami Memories A-Z," a children's book written by alumni Ian and Jody O'Neil.
Miami alum Patrick Geyser illustrated "Miami Memories A-Z," a children's book written by alumni Ian and Jody O'Neil.

Picture this: You’re new parents to twin boys. It’s time to put them to bed, and they demand a bedtime story before you can have some peace and quiet for the night. 

As your adorable children kick and scream, all you can remember to tell them about are your days at your alma mater, before children permanently altered your sleep schedule. 

Miami University alumni Jody and Ian O’Neil, class of 2011, decided to find a way to combine two important periods of their lives. “Miami Memories A-Z” is a children’s book featuring 27 watercolor images that each align with an aspect of Miami life and culture, with one for each letter of the alphabet.

As Miami Mergers that didn’t meet until after graduation, Jody and Ian drew on their own Miami memories while writing their children’s book. 

“Whenever we talk about Miami or think about Miami, we feel nostalgic because it was such a great experience for both of us,” Jody said.

Jody was a marketing major and a communications minor, and Ian was a strategic communications major. They both lived on Church Street during their time at Miami, less than 300 yards apart from each other, but they never met while attending the university. 

The O’Neils decided to turn their idea into a reality when they realized that there were no baby books about Miami University on the market.

“Babies appreciate the books, but why not make a book for the parents?” Ian said.

“Since the Miami alumni group is such a passionate group of people that so fondly look back at their Miami experience … we thought it would be a fun walk down memory lane,” Jody said. 

Ian said it was very important to him and Jody to have a Miami alum create the art for the project, because they would be familiar with the places mentioned. Luckily, he remembered that his college roommate’s younger brother was a cartoonist as well as a fellow alum. 

Patrick Geyser is a Miami University class of 2016 graduate, majoring in marketing and minoring in 2D media studies. While he attended Miami, he was a cartoonist for The Miami Student, creating over 176 drawings for the newspaper. He credits this experience as an influence on the rest of his career. 

Photo by Patrick Geyser | The Miami Student
Each watercolor image in "Miami Memories A-Z" aligns with parts of Miami life and culture.

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“It was really good working on deadlines … having to be creative, having to draw something and get it in twice a week with everything else going on,” Geyser said.

The creative process for “Miami Memories A-Z” was relatively smooth. Jody and Ian mentioned encountering few roadblocks, other than the time it takes to publish a book. Geyser described the flexibility he had in the creative process as an artist.

“Ian and Jody would give me a list of letters and all the potential things that they thought would work with them, and I would pretty much use my own knowledge of what that might be,” Geyser said.

For reference photos, Geyser used a combination of publicly available photos of Miami’s campus as well as pictures from his own Miami experience to create an authentic depiction of life at the university.

Photo by Patrick Geyser | The Miami Student
For reference images, illustrator Patrick Geyser used photos from his experience at Miami along with publicly available images.

Both Geyser and the O’Neils noted the process of getting “Miami Memories A-Z” officially licensed by the university. In order to get the book approved, the university had to sign off on the way that it was represented in the book. 

The O’Neils decided to self-publish “Miami Memories A-Z” instead of seeking a traditional book deal through a publishing house. Currently, Jody handles the packing and shipping of all orders of the book. 

“Even if it’s work, it’s something that we enjoy and we know that it’s been well received. It’s been really rewarding and we’re grateful for that,” Jody said.

“Miami Memories A-Z” is available to purchase for $18.09 and will soon hit shelves at Brick & Ivy and DuBois bookstores.