Category: On animals

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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

Announcing the 2016 Siskiyou Prize

By Midge Raymond,

We are thrilled to announce that the third annual Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature is now open for submissions!


It’s been wonderful to see so many fine writers tackling the issues of the environment and animal protection through great stories, novels, memoirs, and essays — and we are pleased to be offering this prize for a third year. This year, we have one exciting change to announce: In addition to unpublished work (all of which will be considered for publication by Ashland Creek Press), we are also accepting published book submissions for the Siskiyou Prize. Please click here for full details.

This year, we’re delighted to have JoeAnn Hart as our final judge. JoeAnn is the author of two novels, Addled (Little Brown, 2007) and Float (Ashland Creek Press, 2013). JoeAnn’s essays, articles, and short fiction have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals and national publications, including Orion,, and the Boston Globe Magazine. Her work has won a number of awards, including the PEN New England Discovery Award in Fiction. To learn more about JoeAnn, click here.

The 2016 prize winner will receive $1,000 and a four-week residency at PLAYA. All Siskiyou Prize submissions will be considered for publication from Ashland Creek Press. Visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details and to submit.

The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2016. Also, please note that we will be closed to regular book submissions until further notice in order to focus on prize submissions.



We look forward to reading your work!

Cat Editors: AMONG ANIMALS contributors and their feline muses

By Midge Raymond,

Over on my blog, I’ve been writing about authors and their cat editors, and among them are three contributors to the first edition of Among Animals. Learn more about the brilliant felines behind these wonderful writers…

Diane Lefer and Junie (click here to read more about Diane’s many muses…)


Suzanne Kamata and Sumi (learn more about these two here):


Jean Ryan and Tango, whom you can learn more about here.


We would like to officially thank these felines for keeping these terrific authors in their chairs; without them, we may not have received their stories, and we are most grateful. And if you have a feline muse of your own, please feel free to get in touch!


Dogland featured on Our Hen House

By John Yunker,

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 8.19.10 AM

We were thrilled to hear Dogland reviewed by Robin Lamont on the Our Hen House podcast.

Among the many great things said about the book, Robin said she would recommend the book for anyone who has rescued a dog or is planning to do so. We certainly agree!

You can listen to the review here.