Category: News from Ashland Creek Press


A word from the General Manager

By John Yunker,

I was just doing a little inventory here at Ashland Creek Press HQ and thought I’d add a blog post about what’s new here at the press.

First, the human members of the staff had a big day at the recent Ashland Book and Author Festival — you can check out some photos here.

They’ve also been excited about the book buzz for the two novels published this spring and all the great reviews. Here are a few excerpts:

THE NAMES OF THINGS:

“The writing in The Names of Things is beautiful, hypnotic, and exacting…” — Huffington Post Books

“Wood weaves a wonderful tale here…In the end, satisfactorily Wood presents more questions than answers. He presents more in the journey, as only this particular narrator can perform it, than in any particular factual accuracy or resolution. The result is beautiful and haunting. I highly recommend reading this book.” —David S. Atkinson, The Lit Pub

FALLING INTO GREEN:
“Appealing…the aptly named Dr. Green and her friends are fresh enough to recycle.” —Publishers Weekly

“Fischer’s debut mystery introduces a fascinating topic—ecopsychology…” —Library Journal

“[Falling Into Green] is an eco-mystery set at a fast pace, punched through with staccato sentences, twisting plot, shifting landscape, and a mighty heroine for the 21st century.” —Huffington Post Books

And they’re also getting ready for three new books coming out this fall and winter…

Coming in September is Mindy Mejia’s THE DRAGON KEEPER — “a thriller of the rarest form—one that touches both the mind and the heart” (Mary Logue, author of the Claire Watkins mysteries).

In October, look for BALANCE OF FRAGILE THINGS by Olivia Chadha, whose “prose is equally gorgeous and precise, and always full of energy and movement” (John Vernon).

And, finally, stay tuned for THE GHOST RUNNER, the second book in the Lithia Trilogy, whose first book, Out of Breath, “blends genre tradition with West Coast environmentalism … the result feels fresh and original” (Kirkus Reviews). Booklist writes: “Combining mystery, romance, vampires, and strong vegan and environmental messages, [Out of Breath] will have readers of light paranormal novels running to the next book in Richmond’s trilogy.”

And that’s it from the General Manager’s office…at least for now. I’ll be back with periodic updates.

Dispatches from the Ashland Book & Author Festival

By Midge Raymond,

Yesterday was the first annual (yes, there are plans for next year!) Ashland Book and Author Festival, sponsored by Southern Oregon University’s Friends of Hannon Library and SMART. We were happy to be there as both authors and publishers, and especially to meet so many other readers, writers, and publishers.

The festival took place on three floors of SOU’s Hannon Library, with author readings and presentations in alcoves on each floor every fifteen minutes. I had the opportunity to chat about Everyday Writing and to read from Forgetting English, as well as to drop in to hear other presentations. The fifteen-minute format was short but very sweet — and it was great so have so much going on: fiction on one floor, nonfiction on another, and poetry on yet another.

We enjoyed chatting with our festival neighbors at Krill Press and Wellstone Press, and I also participated in a publisher’s panel, along with Molly Tinsley of Fuze Publishing, Tod Davies of Exterminating Angel Press, and Stephen Sendar of White Cloud Press. It was great to hear about the marvelous things these amazing indie presses are up to, as well as talk with participants about everything from queries to distribution to the future of publishing (which, we all agreed, is anyone’s guess at this point!).

It was exciting to hear our own Cher Fischer read and talk about her eco-mystery Falling Into Green at the Writing Killer Fiction panel later that afternoon, led by Tim Wohlforth and including crime writers Michael Niemann, Clive Rosengren, and Bobby Arellano.

And, of course, we loved celebrating Typewriter Day with other fans of the written word…

 Already looking forward to next year!

Ashland Book & Author Festival 2012!

By Midge Raymond,

We’re thrilled to be participating in the Ashland Book and Author Festival on June 23, 2012, from 10a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hannon Library on the campus of Southern Oregon University — and hope you’ll join us!

The festival, sponsored by the S.M.A.R.T. (Start Making a Reader Today) pre-K through 3rd grade literacy group and the Friends of Hannon Library, will feature authors of all genres including poetry, fiction, and drama, as well as health and wellness. Storytelling and a special tour for children and families will include how books are made and restored, samples of ancient books, and talks with artists Betty LaDuke (“Children of the World” paintings) and Meera Sensor (Nobel Peace Prize winners sculptures).

In a sort of literary Antiques Road Show, book restorer Sophia Bogle will give estimates on restoring treasured antique books to those who bring in a favorite book. Art books and fine art letterpress works by Cathy DeForest and Demecina Gray will be on display, as well as award-winning modern book designs by Sabina Nies.

Hear live Middle Eastern and Chinese music featuring Ronnie Malley of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Afternoon panel discussions will include the critical role of independent publishers, crime fiction writing with Tim Wohlforth (this panel features Ashland Creek Press author Cher Fischer and her eco-mystery, Falling Into Green), and a panel on health and fitness.

There is no charge for admission — and parking is free! For more information, click here.

Better yet, do you want to be a festival volunteer? The festival is hosting a volunteer sign-up coffee on Wednesday, June 6, from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Hannon Library cafe (at the entrance to the library). Contact Laura Baden at 541-482-0654 for more information on how to be a volunteer.

Ashland Creek Press, Year One

By John Yunker,

A little more than a year ago, we officially founded Ashland Creek Press. We began by publishing my own book, The Tourist Trail, then realized we’d like to see a lot more out there just like it — books that focus on a changing planet and how we as humans can play a positive role. I already knew, since my excellent agent hadn’t been able to sell The Tourist Trail, that other authors were likely struggling as well — and so we figured that it would be as good a time as any to help them get their books out into the world, too.

We’re thrilled at the quality of submissions we’ve been receiving and especially with the books we’ve been fortunate enough to publish — from a YA vampire series with an environmental twist to a literary novel set in the vast deserts of northeast Africa to the mystery genre’s first eco-mystery. While we remain focused on books with a world view, we’ve also begun reaching out to writers, with Midge’s new book Everyday Writing and with our popular vintage typewriter notecards.

And we’re just getting started: We’ve got an amazing lineup of forthcoming titles to round out 2012 (including a nonfiction baseball book from our imprint Byte Level Books), and 2013 is shaping up nicely as well.

We’re grateful to all the authors and readers who have made this first year possible. (And if you’d like to stay up-to-date, don’t forget to join our mailing list.)

Q&A with Cher Fischer, author of Falling Into Green

By Midge Raymond,

A Q&A with Cher Fischer, author of Falling Into Green: An Eco-Mystery

When did you first begin to form a connection with your surroundings and  the environment?

I was born in Spokane, Washington, a beautiful place, but no one knew that the local nuclear-weapons-making site was polluting the local groundwater, rivers, and food supply (and would eventually become the largest Superfund toxic clean-up site in the country). Not my mom and dad, or me, in utero. It would take many years before I was finally diagnosed with a disease inherent to exposure to high levels of radiation—hypothyroidism—even though I had a goiter that was visible from birth, since there were no heritability factors, my pediatrician did nothing about it. So, I went on with my life, usually feeling a little spacey, sometimes downright ill, and emotionally fragile, to be sure—but in that fragility, I believe my internal communion with nature was born.

You see, I literally had to rely on my sense of nature, my intuition of what was around me, to survive. Some MDs I’ve spoken to say I shouldn’t have lived beyond a few years with a severely impacted thyroid. But live I did, and I’ve always been innately compelled to protect the environment. At eight years old, I wrote my first of many activist letters, this one to the editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, demanding the conservation of forests.

Still, because my hypothyroid went untreated until I was an adult, my development was slow, and compared with my peers, I’ve done everything … late. I got married late, got my doctorate in psychology late. I had a child late. And, finally, I’ve written my first novel, Falling Into Green, late. But, then, late is better than never. And as for the green movement in the United States, where a cohesive environmental policy is so late in coming it sometimes seems like it will never happen—it will. I feel I can help stand testament to that.

 How did you come up with the idea for this book, and how long did it take you to write it? Did you have a special routine or place in which you wrote?

Falling Into Green is a novel that has swirled inside my mind for years. I’ve always wanted to write something that would compel readers to engage with, and maybe even be entertained by, ecology. Finally, with this eco-mystery, I believe I’ve found a way.

My muse is one of the most unstable geological formations in the northern hemisphere: the Palos Verdes Peninsula and Portuguese Bend. When my son was born, I desperately wanted him to have a relationship with nature, and in Los Angeles, with its ever-expanding crisscross of concrete, that can be hard to do. When we moved south of LA to Palos Verdes, I got to spend remarkable hours each day with my toddler on the peninsula, exploring plants, trees, and relishing the turquoise coast. When my son began school, I let the land take up my imagination, and the character, Dr. Esmeralda Green, who ceaselessly and happily adapts to the transformative ecology, was born.

What is Esmeralda Green’s relationship with nature? 

She’s able to immerse herself in her environment. She has the ability, both innate and learned, to integrate psychology, ecology, forensic evidence, and emotion so she can understand the wholeness of something—for instance, a crime.

How can a person achieve a relationship with nature? 

Nature isn’t static, it’s fluid, and sensory, and in our highly structured perception of the world, we lose those connections to something that runs like a river through us, rather than a dam. To go out in a place of nature, even a small park down the street, and simply breathe is probably the first step to getting back in tune with a healthy appreciation of the environment (and subsequently, oneself). Then, to model it in a way; to immerse oneself in the kind of freedom that only ecology can offer. We have to remember nature is meant to be free—unpredictable, and frightening at times—but also a growing, living entity—just as we are—so get out in it and breathe, have fun, and let your endorphins run wild.

Do you ride horses like Esmeralda Green does? 

Not so much anymore, but I grew up riding Western saddle, and my parents in Minnesota own, along with a wonderful trainer, a thirty-five acre working stable. I think respect for horses runs deep in my family’s blood—we love them.

What is the inspiration for Ez’s house—not only its family history but also how it’s slipping from the land?

I wanted Ez to symbolize the human ability to change—to adapt. We really are so adept at that, and yet, beginning with the shift from hunter-gatherer to agrarian to industrial to technological, we’ve become progressively hardwired in our thinking, particularly about nature. It could be said that throughout history, our species has strived to control nature by predicting it to protect ourselves—but as we see on an almost daily basis, nature is getting harder to predict, and thus protect against. So once more, our ability to adapt in the face of challenge becomes important. Ez’s flexible perspective on adapting her beloved ancestral home, a home her grandfather built himself, to the slippery slope beneath it is actually a tribute to our ability to recreate ourselves. Ultimately, for Ez, the only way she can keep her home is to let it change, and to change with it.

What is “ecopsychology,” exactly?

Ecopsychology, or green psychology, is a groundbreaking psychological theory that goes so far to include nature in the development of the human psyche. Whereas many theories in psychology have not included an external force in the development of ego, superego, and id, ecopsychology stipulates that nature is inherent to the formation of an individual’s perception of the world, and his or her response to that world, whether it’s functional or dysfunctional.

As human beings, we often reflect what we see and what we experience, and when we are constantly barraged with trash, concrete, pollution, smog, waste—our behaviors will often mimic those very things. I think it’s no coincidence that we’ve adopted the word “toxic” into our cultural vernacular to describe negative behavior. We don’t realize the abusive relationship we sometimes have with nature on a personal level. And we often help to facilitate a larger entity, an organization or industry in an abusive relationship with nature because … it’s easier. Then, we don’t have to face our own stuff … our own personal responsibilities. And again, like any abusive relationship, it could end up killing us.

How/when did you first realize you wanted to specialize in ecopsychology?

Ecopsychology led me to psychology, and psychology led me back to ecopsychology. I wouldn’t have studied psychology had I not read a book titled Ecopsychology, by Roszak, Gomes, and Kanner, which struck me to the core of my being as authentic.

I’ve always been an environmentalist. I remember, as a three-year-old, playing at a small, mossy bank in our backyard that was teeming with green and tiny creatures, and I felt, even then, a kinship with that natural world. I spent my life advocating for nature on some level, whether it was campaigning through my neighborhood for dolphin-safe tuna, or getting into semi-brawls with the hunters in Minnesota. I even used to forgo driving a car while living in Los Angeles, of all places, taking the bus and carrying my groceries home in a duffel bag. I finally bought a Geo Metro, which got roughly 50 miles per gallon, and kept that car until the Toyota Prius was available. Now, our family has a Ford hybrid.

So, I studied psychology to understand ecopsychology—to be able to integrate the two theories into one.  That is ultimately what ecopsychology’s about—the integration, the connection between all things: the “me” and the “other.” Nature and nurture. Everything’s connected.

Why is ecopsychology an important field right now?

Well, if we go with the idea that everything’s connected, then in taking that one step further: What are we connected to? What are we connected by? Are we connected to each other and our earth in a healthy, sustainable way? Or is it an unhealthy, unsustainable way? I think we all have a pretty good idea of what our world and our connection to it looks like—and feels like—in the twenty-first century: unhealthy. And our behaviors are manifesting that unhealthy connection.

I often liken this relationship to the child who grows up in a domestic abuse situation—the learned behavior is abuse, so the child grows up and abuses or is abused, and the pattern repeats to the point at which we have a very clichéd phrase in our cultural vernacular to describe that learned behavior: the cycle of abuse. Well, taking that into the greater world, our learned behavior in our home, the earth, has been for millennia one of abuse—and when we grow up, we abuse the earth or become victims of abuse (i.e., victims of carcinogens in our water, food, etc.), and we’re willing to accept it because that’s what we’ve been taught—that’s our learned behavior. If we want to survive—as individuals and as a species—we need to break that cycle of abuse we practice toward nature.

What advice do you have for those suffering from “eco-anxiety” and concerns about the environment?

Break the cycle of abuse! Most anxiety disorders stem from feelings of lack of control of one’s own life, so recovering from eco-anxiety must be about taking control and “changing the world.” I know that term is bandied about a lot these days, but change really is the key, whether it’s in reference to a domestic abuse situation or an eco-abuse situation—take the first step, whether it’s buying organic, buying local, driving a car that gets better gas mileage, or urging your community, school, or workplace to adopt green standards.

People told me for years that I was crazy when it came to being concerned about the environment. I can’t tell you how many times I was laughed at for taking the bus in LA. Now, those same people take the bus, or drive a hybrid, or a ride a bike to where they want to go—because they’re experiencing the ravages of climate change, the volatility in weather, and, unconsciously, the manifestation of volatility in human behavior—and they want to do something about it, to initiate change.

Start with yourself, and you’ll touch a life, and another, and so on …

Cher’s eco-mystery, Falling Into Green, is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your favorite indie bookstore, as well as on the Kindle, the Nook, and in the iBookstore