An interview with Among Animals 2 contributor Rachel King

By Midge Raymond,

Thanks to Among Animals 2 contributor Rachel King for answering our questions about her story, “A Normal Rabbit.” And save the date: Rachel will be appearing with Catherine Evleshin at Annie Bloom’s in Portland, Oregon, on Thursday, October 13, at 7 p.m. for a reading from Among Animals 2. 

Q: What inspired you to write this story?
A: My friend works with special needs kids, and I showed rabbits in 4-H when I was a kid. Both areas of knowledge inspired this story.

Q: What was your writing/research process?
A: I challenged myself to write a story that happened in one day, and this story flowed from there.

rachel_king_200

Q:  How does using animals in 4-H clubs (putting them in shows, raising them as food) affect the children in your story? How do you think such clubs affect children in general?
A: When her pet rabbit kills its offspring, Allie becomes scared of rabbits, their violence and foreignness. She opens back up to them while showing her rabbit at the fair. Drew has a connection with the rabbit Camper that he doesn’t yet have with human beings. Children in general can have similar reactions to animals in 4-H: They can think them strange before they accept them and/or their interactions with animals can bring out aspects of their personalities–gentleness, maybe, or caring–that they don’t show as much among their human friends.

amonganimals2

Q: Which writers inspire you the most?
A: Carson McCullers, Jim Shepard, Mary Gaitskill, Robert Hass

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
A: I want readers to enjoy following Allie around for the day; seeing the fair, her brother, and the 4-H event through her eyes.

Q: Why did you pick a child narrator?
A: Allie’s point of view allows the reader to work through the story’s situations slowly, without the immediate assumptions adults often bring. She perceives facts before she makes judgments, something younger children do more often than adults.

An interview with Among Animals contributor Catherine Evleshin

By Midge Raymond,

We’re pleased to share this interview with Among Animals contributor Catherine Evleshin (“A Sterile Place”). And for all of you in the Pacific Northwest, save the date: Catherine will be reading from her story, along with AA2 contributor Rachel King, on Thursday, October 13, at 7 p.m. at Annie Bloom’s. 

 

Q: What inspired you to write this story?

A: My parents, who ran a farming operation in Northern California during World War II, read Rachel Carson and worried. I witnessed repeated “Silent Springs” when the spray planes dumped DDT on their crops.

Q: What was your writing/research process?

A: I read environmental science, ecolit, and future fiction … and remember my childhood on a green farm carved from river delta soils and wild spaces.

Q: Past and present time often cross paths for Bob in this story; at what point do you feel the lines blur, and why?

A: Still alive in 2041, the centegenarian protagonist, confined to an institution because of cognitive issues, remembers his name as the more professorial Robert. His great grandson helps him reconstruct his childhood that reaches back to World War II.

Q: What species would you miss the most if it were to disappear?

A: My brain tells me that all species have a place in the ecosystem. But to be honest, it rips out my heart to learn the plight of warm-blooded creatures, and, yes, frogs. Mosquitos and flies, not so much.

catherine_evleshin_200
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

A: The urgency of stopping practices that destroy the natural world now, not when it becomes economically practical.

amonganimals2

Dining well in Brisbane, Australia

By Midge Raymond,

There are many vegan restaurants in Brisbane, Australia, and we were very happy to have the chance to visit Vege Rama in Brisbane’s West End.

img_3818

It’s a lovely, open-air restaurant (like most in balmy Brisbane), and when we arrived for a (very late) lunch, the restaurant was quiet and peaceful.

img_3819

We began with a juice called the “liver cleanser,” which contains carrot, apple, beetroot, ginger, and turmeric. It was delicious (and pretty).

img_3821

The delicious meals we sampled included the black bean burger, served with sweet potato fries.

img_3828

While the black bean burger was great, our favorite was the grilled marinated tofu steaks on udon noodles, which was sublime.

img_3826

We returned on a Friday night, and the place was overflowing with customers. We had the fantastic tofu/noodle dish again, as well as tone of the night’s specials, a delicious green curry with tofu. (Photo not included because the meal disappeared too quickly.)

Also fun about being there on a weekend evening was the chance to enjoy the specialty cocktails, local beers, and a great selection of local beer and wines.

An interview with Among Animals 2 contributor JoeAnn Hart

By Midge Raymond,

Many thanks to JoeAnn Hart for sharing her insights on the writing of “It Won’t Be Long Now,” included in Among Animals 2

joeann_hart_200

Q: What inspired you to write this story?

A: I was driving along a highway and saw a black plastic trash bag in the middle of the road that must have blown out of a truck. Before I realized it was just more trash in the wrong place, my first thought was, What is a seal doing so far from shore? So the story that came out of this moment was “It Won’t Be Long Now,” where a seal is washed onshore in an estuary, far from where it should be.

Q: What was your writing/research process?

A: I started with the image of the washed up seal, and a woman seeing it from a window in her house, thinking at first it was a black plastic bag. While originally I thought I might write the story as magical realism, where the seal was found hundreds of miles from water, it evolved into a piece of realism. I wanted the reader to understand the problems that real-life sea mammals have with plastic debris in the oceans, since the seal is where it is because it is all wrapped up in fishing line, dying. At that point, I had to do a little research on harbor seals. Even though it is fiction, you can’t play fast and loose with science. To seem real on the page, it has to be real with the facts.

Q: Which writers inspire you?

A: For non-fiction, I’d like to write as beautifully as Annie Dillard and as smart as Rebecca Solnit, both of whom do a better job with the natural world than almost anybody else. For fictional inspiration I return to Melville’s Moby-Dick.

Q: The story involves a sick child who must limit her access to the outdoors. How does this need to distance herself from nature affect her?

A: We are all so distanced from nature these days, to our detriment if not our lives. Children, especially, need to have hands-on experience with the outdoors or they won’t know what there is to lose. The child in the story yearns for animals, but she knows them only through stuffed toys. When the seal arrives in her backyard her mom won’t even let her stay to observe it for fear of an asthma attack. She is literally allergic to the outdoors. She’s sent to the mall with her grandparents, but that comes with its own health risks. There’s no escaping what we do to the environment.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

A: I want people to think before they throw anything away, since it all goes downstream and into the oceans, where even something as thin as filament becomes a lethal weapon to sea mammals. Any damage to the ocean is damage to us.

Q: What are you writing now?

A: I’ve been working on a full-length play about hoarding with strong environmental themes.

Q: How familiar are you with harbor seals?

A: In the winter, all sorts of seals hang out in Gloucester’s harbor (they summer in Maine). I see them on my walk and call to them as they sun themselves on the rocks. They always look. They probably think I’m crazy.

amonganimals2

Announcing AMONG ANIMALS 2

By Midge Raymond,

We are thrilled to announce the publication of Among Animals 2, the second edition of our popular anthology of short fiction that explores the relationships among animals and humans.

amonganimals2

Last week, we celebrated the book’s publication in Australia with a seminar on writing about animals at the University of Sydney.

img_4135

We are grateful to Peter John Chen, Dinesh Wadiwel, and Sascha Morrell for making this event possible; we enjoyed a lively discussion about animals and society as well as the depiction of animals in literature. It was also a great pleasure to hear Sascha Morrell read from her beautiful story, “Roo,” which appears in the anthology.

img_4110

And stay tuned for more Among Animals events here in the U.S.!

On Thursday, October 13, at 7 p.m., contributors Rachel King and Catherine Evleshin will read from their stories at Annie Bloom’s in Portland, Oregon. Click here for details.

On Friday, October 14, at 7 p.m. Charlotte Malerich will read from her story at The Potter’s House in  Washington, D.C. The reading will be followed by a discussion about animals as part of the larger social justice movement. Click here for details.

For more information on the anthology, please feel free to subscribe to our mailing list. And do keep an eye on the blog: We will be posting interviews with our contributors in the coming weeks, in which you can learn more about these talented authors and the inspiration behind their stories. Here is our list of contributors and their stories:

 

Roo Sascha Morrell
It Won’t Be Long Now JoeAnn Hart
Bight, Tomcat, and the Moon Carmen Marcus
Phoenix Cross C.S. Malerich
Shooting a Mule J. Bowers
Lost Pets Laura Maylene Walter
Exotic Animal Alert: Please Post Widely Ramola D
Vivarium Claire Ibarra
Julia and the Sea Bear Nels Hanson
A Normal Rabbit Rachel King
A Sterile Place Catherine Evleshin
How to Identify Birds in the Wild Robyn Ryle
Strays Anne Elliott
Captivity Anthony Sorge
The Truth of Ten Thousand Things Hunter Liguore

 

To order your own copy of Among Animals 2, click here.