The soon-to-be-lovebirds met their junior year at DePaul. After the apartment adjacent to Countryman's caught fire, Novy's roommate invited him to temporarily move into their apartment while repairs to the building were made. Sparks flew, and an unfortunate event led to romance.
In 2013, they graduated from DePaul's Theatre School, and in 2017, they published a children's book together called, "Lemon and Lou: A New Tuxedo."
"We left DePaul's Theatre School encouraged to collaborate, create and explore," Countryman says. "We were trained to apply our skill sets not just to what we learned in our areas of study, but to all aspects of life. We were given a toolbox of skills, and DePaul really taught us how to best use those tools which has made us adaptive and successful."
Countryman has a degree in acting and has loved creative writing since he was a kid. Novy graduated with a degree in scenic design and has always pursued drawing in her spare time.
"My grandmother would always say, 'Oh Tierra, you should draw for children's books when you're older,'" Novy says. "It's funny how things work out sometimes."
Their book tells the tale of a less-than-impressive street magician, Mr. Lemon. While looking for a way to improve his act, he comes across a homeless dog, Lou. Mr. Lemon and Lou quickly become inseparable friends and set off on a magical adventure together.
"I have loved animals since I was a kid," Novy says. "Michael and I both have had very strong relationships with our pets, and I think that the book taps into a little bit of animal rights. Lemon and Lou's relationship shows an appreciation for the pure friendship and absolute love between a human and a pet, something that is really simple and often overlooked."
While promoting their current book, the creators are creating new stories as well.
Both Countryman and Novy are available for readings and collaborations throughout Chicago. The couple also created a "Make a Friend" purchase option for donors to gift a book to libraries and children in need.