An interview with John Yunker, author of WHERE OCEANS HIDE THEIR DEAD

Finally, the long-awaited sequel to The Tourist Trail is here. Where Oceans Hide Their Dead, which can be read as a stand-alone novel as well, picks up where The Tourist Trail left off (which is all we can say here, in case you haven’t yet read The Tourist Trail). Hailed as “an epic, gripping, charming novel” by Jasmin Singer of VegNews and Our Hen House, this passionate, adventurous novel about living on the edge of society and love in all its myriad forms is available now from Ashland Creek Press.

Q: What made you decide to write a sequel to The Tourist Trail?

A: My millions of readers demanded it. (Kidding.) Actually, readers of The Tourist Trail will know that this first novel ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. And I was just as curious to know what happened next. So here we are, eight years later, following Robert as he travels to another country.

Q: What inspired the characters you chose for Where Oceans Hide Their Dead?

A: I’m continually inspired by animal-rights activists. The work they do is heroic. But unlike those who risk their lives for their fellow humans, those who risk their lives for animals are treated as criminals and terrorists. I want to show what they’re up against, as well as the emotional toll of what they deal with. It’s not easy living on the fringes of society.

Q: Was the process of writing different this time around?

A: The second book was more difficult than the first. Partly because the issues hit closer to home, literally and figuratively. And partly because the characters themselves face difficult journeys.

Q: Who are some of your favorite environmental writers?

A: My favorite environmental writers aren’t often referred to as “environmental,” but they very much are. I greatly admire writers such as Annie Proulx (Barkskins) and Carol Adams (The Sexual Politics of Meat). Lately I’ve been reading quite a bit of Tim Winton; there is an environmental streak in much of his writing as well, such as in Eyrie. Other writers that are as relevant now as they were when they first published are Rachel Carson, Brigid Brophy, Upton Sinclair. And I have to call out Midge Raymond’s novel My Last Continent, as well as the writers we’ve published at Ashland Creek Press. There are many amazing short story authors featured in our two Among Animals anthologies that are deserving of huge audiences. I’m most attracted to writing that places human and non-human animals on equal footing, or dares to place non-human animals on higher footing.

Q: What do you hope readers will take with them after reading Oceans?

A: I hope they are energized to help take up the fight for animals and the planet — a fight that concerns us all now more than ever.

Q: Is there another book featuring FBI agent Robert Porter in the works?

A: I’m afraid so. But, like Oceans, it might take some time.

Author John Yunker

Learn more about The Tourist Trail here; check out Where Oceans Hide Their Dead here. Both are available at the Ashland Creek Press bookstore, at an indie bookstore near you, and via online retailers.

On Valentine’s Day, LOVE RHYMES WITH EVERYTHING

There are now only 9 shopping days until Valentine’s Day … which means you still have time to get your copy of Love Rhymes with Everything by Dana Feagin and Kat von Cupcake.

Love Rhymes with Everything is not only a beautiful collection of paintings and poetry, it is a gift to animals everywhere! In this book, you’ll meet sanctuary animals and beloved pets, rescues and strays now living in peace, and your purchase will go to help animal protection and rescue organizations such as SNYP, Sanctuary One, the Jackson County Animal Shelter, Equamore Foundation Horse Sanctuary, and many more. Every penny from the sales of Love Rhymes with Everything will benefit animals.

In Love Rhymes with Everything, you’ll see the beautiful faces of exquisite creatures captured by Dana Feagin’s whimsical paintings, and you’ll hear their voices in Kat von Cupcake’s affecting poetry — and you’ll also learn the personal stories behind many of these rescued animals, from horses and goats to bunnies and cats.

Visit the book’s web page for links to order your copy — you can also order through the Dana Feagin Art website.

If you’re in Southern Oregon, you can buy a copy at the Ashland Art Center in Ashland, or the Rasa Center for Yoga and Wellness in Medford.

Vegan Dining in Ashland, Oregon: Blue Toba

I’ve long heard wonderful things about Blue Toba in Ashland and am so glad I finally made it.

This tiny Indonesian restaurant has a short but diverse menu that includes an abundance of amazing vegan dishes. On this visit I was able to sample three items, all delicious.

My favorite (I think) was the opor, a beautiful and mild “candlenut curry” made with shallots, garlic, and other lovely Indonesian spices. Candlenut is described on the menu as most similar to the macadamia nut, and I found this to be very true: it is mild, rich, and buttery. This dish would be perfect if you want to try a classic Indonesian dish but don’t want a lot of spice.

I also loved sampling the urap, a mix of organic spinach, green beans, cabbage, and sprouts in a traditional Balinese sauce. The sauce contains candlenut, ginger, turmeric, and coconut milk — and it, too, is mild to the taste, though a bit spicier than the opor. (If you like spicy, just ask for the condiments, and you can add as much as you want.) Both this dish and the opor were served with a beautiful tumeric, coconut, and lime-leaf rice.

Finally, the mie goreng: This dish is typically very spicy but can be ordered mild. It’s a fantastic medley of fried noodles with myriad vegetables in an Indonesian sauce made to order with as much (or as little) heat as you’d like. 

The restaurant is small, with only three tables — the entire place seats no more than 12 people at a time — but takeout is available, and probably half of the people visiting on the day we were there were getting their meals to go.

The owners are friendly, helpful, and lovely; they clearly take great pride in their food and in being able to accommodate whatever dietary preferences you may have. I can’t wait to return and would highly recommend this place, especially for vegetarians and vegans and anyone who loves trying new and exotic dishes.

For more information, visit the Blue Toba website, though there’s much more information available on the restaurant’s Facebook page. You can find the menu here, but note that some dishes (like urap) are new and don’t appear on this menu.

 

Submissions in 2019 and beyond…

Writers, mark your calendars — our next submissions period will run from January 1 to January 31, 2019.

During the month of January, we will be accepting submissions of book-length fiction and nonfiction on the themes of the environment, animal protection, ecology, and wildlife — as always, we’re looking for exceptional, well-written, engaging stories.

In the new year, we are asking that writers who submit book-length manuscripts also support the press (and learn more about us!) by purchasing a book at the time they submit. All books will be $20. For U.S.-based writers, this includes free shipping and your manuscript submission; international writers will receive e-books with their manuscript submissions.

As many of you already know, our submission times and policies have evolved over the years. When we founded Ashland Creek Press in 2011, we had the luxury of keeping submissions open all year as writers began to discover us. In 2014, we started the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature and began offering two submissions periods for book-length manuscripts — one for prize entries, and one for regular submissions. We also have several open submissions periods for shorter works, which have filled our anthologies Among Animals, Among Animals 2, and Writing for Animals.

As the years have passed, we’ve found ourselves overwhelmed (in a good way!) with increasingly higher numbers of submissions during each reading period, far more than we can ever publish — and sometimes far more than we can manage to read in a timely manner. Now, as we enter our eighth year of publishing, we have decided to shorten our regular book submission period as well as ask writers to purchase a book — and we do this for several reasons.

For one, we hope that a shorter submission period will allow us to read and respond to writers more quickly (as writers ourselves, we understand that the time spent waiting to hear about a submission can feel interminable!). And also as writers, we understand the importance not only of supporting other small presses but of submitting in a knowledgable way, i.e., learning as much about a publisher and its work as possible before making the decision to enter into what will become a very close and longtime relationship as author and publisher.

For us, Ashland Creek Press has always been a labor of love — and we mean this quite literally! No matter how successful the press has been in any given year, we have never paid ourselves a dime. All money received by Ashland Creek Press goes to author royalties; toward judges’ fees or writers’ prize money; into promotion and events to support our authors, whether for newly launched books or backlist titles; and to the Ashland Creek Press Foundation, which supports animal and environmental organizations that share our mission of making the planet a better place for the future.

We very much look forward to reading your new environmental writing in January, and we thank you in advance for your support. We couldn’t do this without you as writers, readers, and advocates for animals and the planet.

You’ll find our more information on our submissions page; please note that Submittable will not be open until January 1, 2019.

Many thanks, and we wish you a very happy new year!

Ashland Creek Press logo

Penguins & Patagonia Adventure: Exploring Península Valdés

The day after our rainy arrival on Península Valdés, the skies still held remnants of the rain of the day before, which only made the views more spectacular as we explored the 16 kilometers of coastline at Rincón Chico.

Estancia Rincón Chico is a privately owned parcel of about 100 square kilometers (a UNESCO World Heritage Site, all of Península Valdés is privately owned), but unlike the majority of landowners here, Rincón Chico owners Agustín and María have devoted their property entirely to the wildlife. Formerly a sheep ranch, the sheep are now gone (except for a few who remain on the estancia as pets), and the land is beginning to return to its natural state, with the grasses growing taller and the wildlife returning. Rincón Chico is managed through the foundation Conservación Península Valdés (CPV), created to protect this beautiful, wild place.

The Land Rover in the photo below, with the casco and lodge in the far background, offers an idea of how vast and majestic this property is. Agustín estimated it would take the better part of a day to drive all the way around the entire property.

If you visit Rincón Chico, you’ll have the opportunity to see southern right whales, elephant seals, sea lions, orcas, penguins, and numerous species of birds and fish. Agustín and María have cameras set up at watering holes throughout the property to study and track what animals live and roam there. Some of the footage we saw included guanacos, armadillos, wild cats, and myriad birds.

We didn’t have to go far to see rheas, like this one who liked to hang around at the lodge eating the flowers.

More elusive were the Patagonian maras, very large rodents with cute donkey-like faces who run like jackrabbits. They were quite shy, but I did manage to get a quick photo.

I confess this place is so magical I even found the tarantulas adorable.

One of the highlights of our three days at Rincón Chico was spending an entire morning sitting among the elephant seals on one of the beaches. The seals’ lives are full of drama, and to sit in silence and witness their lives for several uninterrupted hours was amazing.

And, the great thing about having some rainy and windy weather is that the clouds make spectacular sunsets.

At night, Rincón Chico goes completely dark (the generator shuts off at midnight, though there are a few solar-powered lights in the lodge). The silence is complete and almost unreal. It’s incredibly peaceful.

I love this photo of John and me with our incredible hosts, Agustín and María. If you ever want to experience Rincón Chico and Península Valdés, remember that visits to the estanciasupport the work of Agustín and María to continue the conservation of the property, the science of learning about its creatures, and rewilding former sheep pastures. I certainly hope we’re able to return again very soon!