Category: Ashland news


A Q&A with Strays author Jennifer Caloyeras

By Midge Raymond,

A Q&A with Strays author Jennifer Caloyeras

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

A: I had been working as the dog columnist for the Los Feliz Ledger for about seven years. Over the course of my research, I wrote a column about K-9 connection, a program that pairs at-risk teens with shelter dogs. I absolutely loved this program and thought the premise would make a great young adult novel. I also had my own experience with a very challenging rescue pit bull. He was my inspiration for writing the character of Roman.

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Q: Tell us more about the dog who inspired Roman.

A: Roman was inspired by our own rescue pit bull, Willie. We didn’t know Willie was a pit bull when we adopted him—he was only eight weeks old, and we were told he was a “shepherd mix.” His strong personality began to come out in the following weeks. He went through almost a year of intensive training with over five Los Angeles-based trainers (including the famous Dog Whisperer.) Unlike with Roman, we weren’t able to redirect Willie’s behavior and, in a heartbreaking decision, we made a plan to relinquish the dog to Brandon Fouche, an amazing dog behavioralist in Los Angeles who rehabilitates homeless people’s dogs. Imagine my surprise a few years later when I was conducting research for my column when I came across a front page photo of Willie and an accompanying article describing how he is instrumental in helping to rehabilitate these dogs. He had a bigger calling in life, and I’m so glad he found it.

Q: Why did you choose Santa Cruz as the backdrop to this story?

A: I went to college at UC Santa Cruz, and I was so struck its dramatic cliffs, beaches, redwood forests, and gorgeous trees. There’s an inherently laid-back feel about this city that I thought would make a nice juxtaposition to all of the tension happening in Iris’s life. There’s a pervasive feeling of people striving for social justice in Santa Cruz, which supports Iris’s metamorphosis from self-centered teen to animal-rights activist.

Q: Tell us about Angela Carter and your choice to include her in the story. 

A: I first learned about British writer Angela Carter when I was in graduate school at Cal State Los Angeles, working towards my MA in literature. I struck by the ways in which she completely re-interpolated familiar fairy tales, rejecting gender stereotypes and adding a feminist edge to these stories that had been controlled by men for hundreds of years. The Bloody Chamber was published in 1979 and was just so ahead of its time.

Q: Did you have kind, supportive teachers like Iris’s teacher Perry in high school? 

A: Yes! I was very lucky to attend a progressive high school in Santa Monica. We called our teachers by their first names, and we always sat in a circle instead of in prescribed rows. The teachers there were amazing listeners, whether they were hearing our ideas about a particular concept or listening to us vent about our daily lives. I felt particularly connected with my English, theater, and music teachers, and the character of Perry is an amalgam of all of these wonderful people.

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Click here to learn more about Strays and to get your own copy. And visit Jennifer’s website for the latest news and events.

Among Animals: An anthology that’s just getting started

By John Yunker,

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When we put out a call for submissions for our first planned anthology, Among Animals, we didn’t know what to expect. We had a vision for the types of stories we wanted, but we weren’t sure if there were enough writers out there who shared this vision.

Fortunately, we found many writers interested in exploring the human-animal connection. And we are very proud of the finished product.

We then wondered if there was an audience of readers who shared this vision? After all, we weren’t trying to sell a cute little collection of animal stories. This is, for many, a challenging collection to read. The stories deal with uncomfortable and, at times, very painful topics.

But now, a year later, I’m happy to say that Among Animals has indeed resonated with readers. The reviews alone have been very gratifying, and they continue to appear, in major publications such as Booklist to literary journals like The Chattahoochee Review.

Among the most recent reviews is this one from The Goose: A Journal of Arts, Environment, and Culture in Canada:

Among Animals is as provocative as it is urgent, and as accessible as it is emotional. This collection will be useful to animal studies specialists, posthumanist scholars, and ecocritics alike, as it attests to the multifarious systems within which humans co-exist with non-human others. The collection will serve readers with professed interests in the identity and subject formation of any social “other,” who is systematically and institutionally overlooked and undervalued, for the discourse that surrounds “the question of the animal” is by no means limited to the effects of a humanistic hierarchy on animals alone. And finally, beyond Among Animals’ tremendous theoretical and philosophical promise, the stories herein will leave an indelible impression on a compassionate readership that questions and challenges humans’ particularly privileged subject position in order to engender a more ethical framework for living not as entities separated from the world, but as sensitive and reciprocal elements of an inherently valuable, shared environment.”

And this from Sabotage Reviews:

“All of the stories were written with the laudable goal of legitimizing the need for recognition (and application) of the rights of animals in our interactions with them…This anthology reiterates [the human-animal] connection over and over again, in a myriad of ways, expanding that connection from the realm of pets, through domesticated livestock, until it encompasses all of the things that we call ‘nature,’ revealing (in a way that is wholly free from the saccharine flavor of sentiment) that we are and always have been part of the web of the world.”

And The Chattahoochee Review wrote:

“The sixteen talented writers who have produced Among Animals have produced more artistic possibilities than limitations in the tone and mood … very fine literary fiction.”

So, what next?

It’s time to begin looking forward to the next edition.

We recently opened the submission window and we welcome your stories.

But, before you do submit, please take a look the current anthology to get a feel for what we’re looking for. Click here to see where you can find the book — or, ask your local library to purchase a copy.

 

Announcing the 2014 Siskiyou Prize winner and finalists!

By Midge Raymond,

We are delighted to announce that New York Times bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler has chosen Mary Heather Noble’s memoir PLUMES: ON CONTAMINATION OF HOME AND HABITAT as the winner of the 2014 Siskiyou Prize.

We are also delighted to announce the prize finalists: Amy Hassinger for her novel AFTER THE DAM and Julie Christine Johnson for her novel THE CROWS OF BEARA.

Of PLUMES, judge Karen Joy Fowler writes: “I was impressed from the first page with both the beautiful writing and careful intelligence of PLUMES. This book takes on one of our most troubling issues, the increasing toxicity of our polluted world, to create a narrative that is both personal and universal. PLUMES neither minimizes the complexities of these issues nor overstates its conclusions, but leaves the reader with much to think about. An exceptional book.”

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About the winner: Mary Heather Noble is an environmental scientist and writer whose work is inspired by environmental health issues, the natural world, family, and place. Her essays have been honored with first prize in Creative Nonfiction’s The Human Face of Sustainability Contest, and second prize in the 2012 Literal Latté Essay Awards. Her writing has also appeared or is forthcoming in About Place Journal, Fourth Genre, High Desert Journal, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Minerva Rising, Pithead Chapel, and Utne Reader.

Noble is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Program with the University of Southern Maine. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from The Ohio State University, and a master’s degree in environmental science from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She spent six years working in the technical environmental sector before leaving the field to pursue creative writing. Noble currently lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and two daughters.

We hope you join us in celebrating the environmentally themed work of these fine writers!

We’d also like to extend a very special thanks to all of the writers who entered the contest … your support makes this prize possible.

Please stay tuned for updates on next year’s Siskiyou Prize, which is open to unpublished, full-length prose manuscripts, including novels, memoirs, short story collections, and essay collections. The winner will receive a cash award of $1,000, a residency at PLAYA, and an offer of publication by Ashland Creek Press. For more information, visit the Siskiyou Prize website.

Halloween in Ashland

By Midge Raymond,

Halloween is my favorite time of year…I adore the chill in the air, the autumn leaves, and the lights and pumpkins that begin to adorn the homes around Ashland.

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Especially exciting this year is the release of the final book in The Lithia Trilogy, The Last Mile, which is hot off the presses. As many of you know, the fictional “Lithia” bears quite a strong resemblance to Ashland … and in this final installment of the series, our heroine is tasked with saving the town from all but certain destruction.

Kirkus Reviews writes that “Lithia hasn’t lost a bit of its quirky, high-altitude allure,” and Vickie Aldous of the Ashland Daily Tidings writes, “Readers familiar with Ashland will have fun identifying local landmarks.”

Read more about The Last Mile here … and visit Bloomsbury Books or Tree House Books to get your copy!

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Among other exciting upcoming Ashland Halloween events are…

Happy Halloween from our General Manager

Happy Halloween from our General Manager

About Ashland Creek…

By Midge Raymond,

…the actual creek, that is.

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This is the creek that inspired the name of our press back in 2011. Since then, the sign over the bridge going through town has gotten a makeover:

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Part of the Rogue River watershed, Ashland Creek begins on the north slope of Mt. Ashland and meanders 7,000 feet down to the valley floor, through several vegetation zones.

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Ashland Creek provides the city of Ashland with the majority of its drinking water, which makes it so much more than just a lovely part of the landscape.

Despite the record snow that fell in last December, it was a very dry winter and Ashlanders spent the summer rationing water. We’re all hoping for a bit more precipitation this coming season … though not as much as the winter of 1997, which was when the last major flood occurred. (You can see photos of it here.)

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