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.

ACP is headed to New Zealand and Australia

We’re excited to once again be headed Down Under to meet with authors and readers.

We have two events planned that all are welcome to attend:

 

Christchurch, New Zealand

Writing about Animals: Literature’s evolving relationship with the animal kingdom

November 10th, 3 to 5pm

At the University of Canterbury

New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies

Engineering Core Lecture Theatre, Building E12

 

Perth, Australia

Sunday Session

November 26, 4 to 5:30 pm

At the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre

 

If you have any questions or would like to meet us along the way, please contact us.

Vegan dining in Melbourne & Sydney: Lord of the Fries

One of the best vegan discoveries during our trip to Australia was Lord of the Fries. (I should add that this was good for our taste buds, but perhaps not ideal for our health: Lord of the Fries is vegan fast-food takeaway: not the healthiest but definitely delicious.)

We first discovered Lord of the Fries in downtown Melbourne, which has two locations, one on Swanston Street and another at the Flinders Street train station.

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The menu is entirely vegetarian, but most of the items, including milkshakes, can easily be made vegan. (UPDATE: As of November 2017, this restaurant is 100 percent vegan! Thrilling news.)

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As you can see from the menu, it’s definitely fast food — but it’s incredibly delicious.

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Among the very best sandwiches is the “chick’n” sandwich, which comes with vegan cheese and your choice of vegan sauces.

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We also tried the burger, which was great and nicely loaded up with veggies (adding the illusion of a healthy meal….).

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The breakfast sandwich were my very favorites, as these are nearly impossible to find in the States. They are made with a tofu “egg” and come with vegan cheese as well as a “meat” option if you’d like.

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The fries are delicious and come in many forms, from shoestring to sweet potato. Tip: get your sauce on the side, unless you like smothered, soggy fries. The onion rings are divine: very crispy on the outside and perfect and flavorful on the inside.

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The only thing we didn’t like was the hot dog, which arrived with not-quite-melted cheese and a too-large doughy bun. Perhaps this was an anomaly, but it was not at all appealing.

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Most of the locations are takeaway, but there are a few with seats, including the one in the Fitzroy neighborhood of Melbourne.

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We were thrilled to see this Australian chain always busy. Lord of the Fries not only helps the planet by being plant-based, but in addition its food is locally sourced and the chain recycles its cooking oil to fuel its delivery trucks. We hope that, as the sign reads, ethical fast food becomes a thing not just down south but around the world as well.

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Happy World Penguin Day!

One thing I’m celebrating on World Penguin Day is having met my seventh species of penguin: the little penguin. Ever since meeting four species of penguins in Antarctica, I’ve become a little obsessed: Next I went to Argentina to volunteer with the University of Washington’s Penguin Sentinels, counting the Magellanic penguins of Punto Tombo. On more recent visit to the Galápagos Islands, I was able to see the elusive and endangered Galápagos penguin. And last year, one of the best things about visiting Australia as part of the My Last Continent tour was meeting my seventh species.

The little penguin is also called the “fairy penguin” in Australia, and in New Zealand it’s known as the “blue penguin” or “white-flippered penguin.”

All names fit this little bird, as it is no more than a foot tall, and its feathers are a lovely bluish-gray and white. These penguins appear in several places in Australia, one of them being Manly, where you can see signs like this on the sidewalks, alongside indicators for bikes and pedestrians:

little-penguin

The little penguins forage at sea all day and come ashore when darkness falls. One of the best places to see them is the (terribly touristy) Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, which is a two-hour journey from Melbourne and completely worth it, especially if you can ignore the other tourists (some of whom are respectful, far too many of whom are noisy, take photos (which aren’t allowed), and otherwise flaunt the rules of the park and disturb the birds).

Once it gets dark, no photos or videos are allowed, but on a daylight walk we glimpsed this little penguin, near the natural and man-made burrows created to provide nesting opportunities for them.

Years ago, the little penguins’ numbers here on Phillip Island decreased dramatically when a bridge was built and humans began inhabiting and vacationing on the island, bringing foxes, dogs, and other predators, including traffic; even now, many penguins are run over by cars. Foxes have now been eliminated, and while the birds’ numbers are still down in Australia, we can hope the conservation efforts pay off. One effort is the building of nests for them; below, you can just barely see a little penguin inside one of these man-made burrows.

The little penguins are adorable to watch. After the sun sets, they come in from the water in “rafts” — groups from five to ten penguins to dozens — because there is safety in numbers, and they shake off the water and waddle up the sand to the scrubby brush where they have their nests. Perhaps because they’re so small, they always look as though they’re walking in a huge hurry, as if being chased. (If you do visit Phillip Island, sit tight and wait until the crowds disperse and until the rangers tell you at least three times that it’s time to go. This is when it gets quiet and peaceful, and you can hear nothing but the sounds of the penguins scuttling to their nests and calling to their mates.)

Another place to see the little penguins is much closer to Melbourne is the breakwater at St. Kilda, where the penguins come to shore every night after sunset. Guides are there to enforce similar rules (no photography, no approaching the penguins), and it’s about a half-hour away from downtown Melbourne by bus or light rail.

To celebrate World Penguin Day, here are a few links where you can learn more and support conservation efforts for penguins around the world:

UW Penguin Sentinels

Oceanites

The Penguin Counters

Wishing you a very happy World Penguin Day!

Announcing the short story collection Forgetting English

“Raymond’s prose often lights up the poetry-circuits of the brain…”   — The Seattle Times

I’m pleased to announce that Ashland Creek Press has published the third edition of Midge’s Raymond’s award-winning short story collection, Forgetting English.

In this new, expanded edition of her prize-winning collection, which includes a reading group guide, Midge Raymond stretches the boundaries of place as she explores the indelible imprint of home upon the self and the ways in which new frontiers both defy and confirm who we are.

The characters who inhabit these stories travel for business or for pleasure, sometimes out of duty and sometimes in search of freedom, and each encounters the unexpected. From a biologist navigating the stark, icy moonscape of Antarctica to a businesswoman seeking refuge in the lonely islands of the South Pacific, the characters in these stories abandon their native landscapes—only to find that, once separated from the ordinary, they must confront new interpretations of whom they really are, and who they’re meant to be.

Forgetting English won the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Here’s what two reviewers had to say:

“Raymond has quiet, unrelenting control over the writing; each story is compelling and thrives because each detail and line of dialogue reveals just a little more about the characters and the evocative settings.” —The Rumpus

“All of her stories are heartbreakingly honest … I wouldn’t be surprised if she started getting compared to Alice Munro or Jhumpa Lahiri.” — Seattle Books Examiner

Learn more.