ACP is headed to New Zealand and Australia

By John Yunker,

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.

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

joeann_hart_200

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.

amonganimals2

On typewriters, technology, and keeping up with the times (or not)

By John Yunker,

Our General Manager, by nature of living in a household full of them, is well aware of what a typewriter is.

But there is a whole generation of humans out there who have absolutely no reference point for these ancient devices.

They simply did not grow up with them. This was especially evident at the Wordstock book festival, where we had a typewriter on display — children under ten years old stared at it in wonder. Most of them had to ask what it was.

For context, I remind myself of what I thought when I first saw a telegraph. I wondered: People actually used this thing to communicate?

Which leads me to one of the core challenges of writing literature these days.

With technology changing so quickly, you can have a novel you began three years ago suddenly feel dated by the time you complete it — not to mention by the time you get it published. If your novel has a land line and an answering machine in it, it’s going to feel like a period piece. If one of your characters doesn’t have a cell phone or doesn’t text, the character will need to be of a certain generation, or you’ll have to explain why he or she is so technologically behind.

It’s not just about cell phones or texting.

What about tablets? Instagram? And, God help us, Facebook?

It’s getting more and more challenging to write contemporary novels that remain contemporary for a few years after they’re published.

But then again, what’s so bad about period pieces? Not to mention the fun you can have with characters who buck the trends — those without cell phones, those who have never been on Facebook. I admire these people in real life — the ability to remain disconnected.

Which means, I suppose, that though I have the cell phone and the Facebook account, I’m a typewriter person at heart.

PS: For all you other typewriter people, check out our notecards. If you’re a writer and a typewriter person, check out our special holiday bundle.

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!