Category: On travel


Announcing new authors and our 2012 lineup

By John Yunker,

Ashland Creek Press in 2012
When Midge and I started Ashland Creek Press earlier this year, we knew what types of books we wanted to publish. And we noted this right on the home page.

But we weren’t sure exactly how many of these types of books were out there. All we did know was that we would have to be patient. Yet we were pleased and surprised to discover that we have not had to wait very long for amazing books to come our way.

I’m happy to say that our 2012 lineup of books captures the range of themes and issues we are most passionate about — books that introduce you to new cultures and new ideas, and books that have the potential to change the world, or at least the potential to change your way of looking at the world. So here is the lineup for next year, beginning in April:

The Names of Things by John Colman Wood

The Names of Things is one of those novels that sticks with you long after you’ve put it down. The book is a mystery, a love story, and an anthropological journey all wrapped up into one. We couldn’t put the manuscript down and are very happy to be introducing this novel to the world.

Falling into Green by Cher Fischer

Falling into Green is an eco-mystery set in Los Angeles with an ecopsychologist as its main character. This character, Ez Green, is a powerful, quirky, and highly engaging character, and this book is the first in what we hope will be a long series of Ez’s adventures on a changing planet.

And now let’s jump ahead to the fall of 2012 to introduce two newly signed authors and their novels:

The Dragon Keeper by Mindy Mejia

The Dragon Keeper is Mindy’s debut novel, and one of its most endearing characters is an endangered Komodo dragon living in a Minnesota zoo. But it’s ultimately about the woman who cares for the dragon, the perils of captivity, and the incredible series of events that change her life — and the dragon’s — forever. Mindy has an MFA from Hamline University, where The Dragon Keeper was awarded outstanding thesis in fiction in 2009. Her work has appeared in rock, paper, scissors, and Things Japanese: A Collection of Short Stories. She lives and works in Saint Paul, MN.

Balance of Fragile Things by Olivia Chadha

Balance of Fragile Things, Olivia’s debut novel, puts you smack in the middle of a modern American family — an Indian father, a Latvian mother, and a teenage son and daughter — as well as an environmental mystery that threatens to destroy the family’s livelihood as well as the whole town. Olivia completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Binghamton University and began her career writing comic book scripts. She teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

And, last but certainly not least, next fall we’ll be publishing the second book in the YA Lithia Trilogy:

The Ghost Runner by Blair Richmond

The second book in this trilogy will follow more of Kat’s adventures with the otherworldly inhabitants of Lithia. To learn more about this series, check out the first book, Out of Breath, which is available now and “officially” launches in October. You can download a PDF excerpt here, and please also join us here on this blog on Halloween, when we’ll be celebrating the publication of Out of Breath with a daylong virtual book launch. You can read some of the book’s early reviews here, including this one from Kirkus Reviews: “This series opener blends genre tradition with West Coast environmentalism … the result feels fresh and original.”

Welcome to all of our wonderful authors!

Author Q&A: Exploring Oregon’s cemeteries

By Midge Raymond,

How does one become interested in cemeteries, of all things? In this Q&A, Johan Mathiesen, author of Mad as the Mist and Snow: Exploring Oregon Through Its Cemeteries, talks about his interest in cemeteries, how he went about researching this book, and where he himself wants to be buried…

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

Basically, the book is an extension of an avocation: visiting cemeteries. It’s an activity my wife and I have engaged in for decades. It’s one of the things we do when we visit a new town; we go find their cemeteries. And then some years ago the idea simply popped into my head: Well, I could do a guide to the cemeteries of Oregon; no one has done that yet. To an extent it was an extension of Ralph Friedman’s work on documenting what’s interesting in Oregon. My concept was to isolate one part of what he was looking at and look at it in depth. Another part of me wanted to give a gift to my state. My own personal ethos says I should try as hard as I can to advance the culture of the human race. Simply put, I felt it my duty to make a contribution. Cemeteries was it.

Once I settled on the project of photographing all the cemeteries in the state, I began the long process of locating and visiting them. I began in 2004. I’m not done. I’ve shot more than 600 Oregon cemeteries. I’ve driven countless thousands of miles and spent many a night sleeping in the front seat of my car off some logging road or in the vast expanse of the high desert waiting for the sun. I’ll drive for hours and never play the radio or slip in a CD. Just me and the two-lane or less.

Why cemeteries? What made you interested in cemeteries in the first place?

I blame it on my dad. He had hip ailments and couldn’t walk well, but he was a trained geographer and loved to take long drives through the countryside. I learned to love them, too, and so did my wife. Cemeteries are a natural place to stop and poke around, if you’re in the boondocks. Doing this book was an excuse to pursue my hobby seriously.

How did you choose the cemeteries to include in this book?

They chose themselves. Either they were interesting cemeteries in their own right, or they had an interesting story connected to them.

What are you favorite cemeteries?

Any cemetery that has a lot going on. I don’t like cemeteries that discourage personalization. I like cemeteries that encourage people to decorate the graves of their loved ones. I like cemeteries that invite people to use them.

How are cemeteries adapting to the modern world?

Many ways. Like everything else, cemeteries are living institutions; they either go forward or they die. The biggest hurdle cemeteries currently face is cremation and the discontinuance of using cemeteries. They’ve combated that by devoting increasing space to columbaria, and by integrating cremain depositories within highly landscaped settings. Other cemeteries have incorporated virtual memory displays, either at grave sites or central locations. Cemetery memorials have gone online. Green cemeteries are encroaching on the business. On the opposite end, the extreme income disparity in this country has given rise to a rebirth in elaborate and expensive monuments, while at the same time many have cut back operations or scope.

Any lessons to be learned?

It’s probably too late, but the invention of the lawn cemetery was a major contributor to the death of the mega-cemetery as we know them. We can see that in hindsight, but there was no way to see it going in.

Ever see any ghosts?

Nope. I think there are spirits in a graveyard, but they’re spirits you bring with you. I’m pretty convinced evolution happens, and I don’t see exactly when ghosts would have appeared in the process. In any event, if they’re out there, I’m blind to them.

Where are you going to be buried?

Lone Fir Cemetery in Portland. My wife and I were among the last people to secure plots there before they curtailed sales. If I had my druthers, they’d prop my body under a tree and let the critters eat me, but that’s frowned on in this society. I guess I’ll let the little critters of the soil have me. My most important goal is to remain part of the life cycle. The idea of being sealed in an impermeable coffin scares the beejeebiz out of me.

 

Learn more about Johan Mathiesen’s book, Mad as the Mist and Snow: Exploring Oregon Through Its Cemeteries, at Ashland Creek Press. The book is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and your favorite bookstore.

 

Presenting Patti Marxsen’s “Archaeologies”

By Midge Raymond,

We are thrilled to announce the publication of Patti M. Marxsen’s essay “Archaeologies” as an Ashland Creek Press Short.

 

In this haunting essay,  Marxsen explores the discoveries and losses of a family shattered by divorce. “Archeologists know,” Marxsen writes, “that something precious is always at risk of being lost forever.”  In this essay, Marxsen is an archeologist unearthing her own past—one of “the fearless ones who study time as a process of erosion, collision, burial, and rediscovery.” From the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva to the typewriter cubicles at the University of Kentucky, Marxsen takes us on a journey through time, offering us glimpses into the history of Gaza, into the enduring challenges facing women, and into the eroded history of a broken family.

An American writer living in Switzerland, Marxsen is the author of collection of travel essays, Island Journeys: Exploring the Legacy of France (Alondra Press, 2008), a finalist for the Nonfiction Book Award of the Writers’ League of Texas (2009); as well as a collection of short fiction,Tales from the Heart of Haiti (Educa Vision, 2010). Click here to learn more about Marxsen and her work.

And you can enjoy this essay for less than the cost of a latte or a cup of tea! Read it on the Kindle, or download the PDF.