A Passion Becomes Real
When I was about nine or ten years old, a teacher in my little school in Dermott, Arkansas, suggested that I read a book written by Stephen W. Meader. I devoured it and went back to the school library for more. I found five or six and read them all.
Stephen Meader's books formed the basis of my early passion for literature that remains today. Through the years I have often thought of those books, but it was my grandson turning ten that prompted me to begin looking for Meader's books to share with him. I went to the Internet and discovered a huge cult following of Stephen Meader. I also discovered that a good copy would cost several hundred dollars and to acquire a copy in excellent condition could run as high as $l,000.
My search for Meader books brought me into contact with people who eventually led to me meeting John Meader, the author's son. I spent the day with John and his wife, Joan, in their home in New Jersey learning some of Stephen's life and the influence his books had had on the lives of so many young people. I had seen through the Internet that, though his books had long been out-of-print, his books still had a strong following. An idea began to form that eventually led to discussions and negotiations with the Meader family to acquire the rights to the forty-four published Meader books and to the two unpublished manuscripts Meader left at his death in 1977.
Because of its rarity, I selected T-Model Tommy as the first book to publish. This was done by actually photographing each page to retain its authenticity. The reaction was immediate and overwhelming. E-mails and letters poured in requesting favorite books. Unfortunately, this method of reproduction was very expensive and required warehousing of thousands of copies. Technology came to the rescue in 2004 and we were able to add ten new titles to our collection before the end of the year. With pleasure I am happy to announce that we have added another thirty-three titles, and our library of Meader books now totals forty-four, all of the original titles that Meader published in his lifetime.
My entrepreneurial spirit was influenced by Meader's books and they influence me still.
I dedicated the first book, T-Model Tommy, to my grandson, who was the catalyst for it all. Now fans from years past can rekindle their warm memories of reading his books and share these inspiring and adventuresome tales with their grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Southern Skies, dedicated to publishing faithful reproductions of Stephen W. Meader books, is proud to offer his entire literary collection. We began with T-Model Tommy being carefully photographed, page by page, from the original 1938 edition. The only exception was the removal of a Harcourt Brace NY publisher's note and replacing it with the Southern Skies mark.
The high expense of self-publishing, storage and other direct costs of this project prohibited additional titles until most of the expense of T-Model Tommy was recovered. In late 2004 we found a reputable company with the new printing technology that enabled us to add ten titles in time for Christmas. The response has been gratifying. Throughout 2006 we have heard from men and women from every state in the United States, every province in Canada, and six foreign countries. Heart-warming stories have come from all parts of the country, and while the particular nature of the influence may be different, one thread runs through their stories: Stephen W. Meader opened up new worlds and possibilities. For many they were inspired to make those dreams come true, as in the man who now owns a large trucking company because of T-Model Tommy and the aviator who saw his goal possible because of Sabre Pilot. What an honor it was to hear from a man who counsels at-risk youth and uses Meader's books to teach the value of honesty, hard work, and perseverance.
Every fan of Stephen W. Meader has several books which became special favorites and which they now wish to share with the young people in their lives, as well as reread for their own pleasure. The reading of Meader's books provides more than exciting adventures and exploits; his background of history and geography gives accurate physical descriptions of the stories' locales and an authentic look at life in that time. His historical novels are noted for his ability to intertwine events that shaped our country with thrilling escapades.