Letter to Ken Bulmer, April 1977
Dear Uncle Ken: sorry I missed you at the con. I was basking in the sunshine at Madeira at the time. It was an opportunity that came up at short notice that I grabbed with both hands (and held on to). As I was struggling to finish the text of a book, due to be published shortly by Dover Publications Inc. of New York, before I departed, the period before was hectic and confused!
But it's all right now... I made the deadline, and this week I got the cheque (or check) for my efforts. So I'm in a bit of a daze: I feel more like framing this bit of paper and hanging it up among my trophies. On the other hand I look at all the outstanding bills and guess I'll be hurrying along to the bank with it next week.
I believe you swept sentiment aside end steeled your heart and rejected one of Philip's novels recently. I think he's on with his fourth just now. Marion has been doing odd bits of writing and building up a steady sale as well as winning the odd competition here and I suppose it was high time that the old man joined in.
You may faintly recall an article I did in Zimri a few years back, about drawing impossible objects and Iike that. I sent a copy to Howard P. Lyons (does the name ring bells in your memory?) since he and Pat religiously send me Christmas cards which I never seem to get around to answering in kind: so sending him the mag and a long letter was by way of easing my conscience.
If you remember Howard, you may also remember that one of his hobies is conjuring. It just so happens that a fellow-amateur conjuror is Martin Gardner, who runs the mathematical recreations column in the Scientific American. So Howie sent him a copy of the article, and Martin writes to ask if I've any more impossible objects lurking in my files.
So I send him a few samples and he promises to use them in his column sometime (which he did recently). Not only that, but a week or two later I get a letter from Dover asking if I'm interested in doing a colouring bookobviously Martin Gardner has dropped hints about this genius lurking unrecognised in the depths of the Cheshire countryside.
Being the perfectionist I am, I suggested that more explanatory text should be included with the designs for colouring, and was asked to put up a proposal of of what I had in mind... and here it is due to be published in a few weeks time.
Letter to Harry Bell, 22 March 1978
I suppose the book stuff started as a Eureka-type accident as well as coming "from years of playing with these things". Come to think of it, I'm sure I sent you the original mag article I did that sparked the request for the book off, telling about looking for ideas for a painting and how I looked back over my scribbles and there was the original triad.
About four years or more ago. I didn't quite realise what I'd stumbled on at the time. The public I'm after? Well, children of all ages from 6 to 60, scientific artists and artistic scientists, people who like struggling with puzzles, folk interested in perceptual problems and paradoxes... Just think of all the art classes in schools and colleges all over the USA, all the art teachers looking for projects for their classes, projects that give them scope to guide and encourage experiment, all the kids screaming to be entertained on a rainy day... anyone interested in surface pattern and an easy foolproof way of generating new designs... don't they add up to a lot of people?
Enough to keep Dover happy, I guess!
So I reach a bigger audiencea receptive audiencewith little effort compared with all the aggro of painting individual works and carting them round to exhibitions for a few people to gaze at.
Truth to tell, when I pick up a copy of the book and flick through the pages I find it hard to realise I did it. "Beautiful & fascinating" "Combines imagination with logical thinkingand ends up visually exciting", says Richard Gregory from the Brain and Perception Laboratory of Bristol University. "An interesting project" says Edward de Bono.
You see, I'm collecting all my blurbs for the next book already...