Editor’s note: In a community that loves animals, it is natural that our literature should reflect our values. Yet it is rare to find enjoyable books about animals or opportunities to write about animals in a respectful and honest way. This is why Ashland Creek Press fills a unique role as a publisher that supports literature on animals and the environment. Get to know this publisher in the following Q&A with Midge Raymond and John Yunker of Ashland Creek Press.
Q: Why did you start Ashland Creek Press?
A: We began Ashland Creek Press when we realized there aren’t very many outlets for authors writing animal rights and environmental fiction. While there are plenty of nonfiction books about animal protection and the environment out there, there’s very little fiction and no other press that we know of devoted specifically to this genre. Once we got started, we realized there are a lot of wonderful writers tackling these issues in fiction, and there is indeed a demand among readers for these types of books. We’re also both writers of fiction with animal rights themes.
Q: How do you find your authors?
A: We have a submissions page, and our listing as a press in such places as Poets & Writers, Literary Market Place, Agent Query, and New Pages has helped authors find us. We also receive manuscripts from authors and literary agents who have heard about our environmental niche and have works that are a good fit.
Q: What types of readers do you hope to reach?
A: We hope to provide books for those who are already interested in the environment and animal protection, but even more important, we’d like to reach readers who may not be aware of such issues and get them thinking about these things by way of a great story. For example, in May we’re publishing a novel called The Green and the Red, which at first glance is a romantic comedy. But it’s a romance between a vegetarian and a carnivore, and during the course of the novel a great deal of powerful information is conveyed about animal rights, agribusiness, and the environment. But the book is so fun and engaging that readers won’t feel as though they’re reading first and foremost about animal protection; they’re just reading a good love story. Many people simply aren’t motivated by facts and figures — yet a great novel can speak to your soul and completely change your life. These are the books we strive to write and publish.
Q: Do you have advice for writers who want to write about animal rights?
A: Our advice would be first and foremost to be loyal to the story — no reader wants to be preached to, and this is a common criticism of books that aim to inspire change. For any book to open minds, it has to be a good story. One way to do this is to create strong characters on various sides of the issue, which is great for creating conflict and exciting plots — and it prevents the story from being too one-sided. And be sure to read everything else that’s out there by authors who know the issues and write about them well; EcoLit Books is a great resource for discovering new works.
For those new to writing, try starting off with a short story. We recently published an anthology of short stories about human/animal relationships: Among Animals, and we’ll be looking for new stories for the next edition later this year. To be notified about the next call for short stories, writers can sign up for our newsletter on our website.
Q: What is EcoLit Books?
A: EcoLit Books is an independent book review site focusing solely on eco-literature, both fiction and nonfiction. We administer the site but otherwise it’s not about our press—it’s for all writers, publishers, and readers who are interested in these issues. We have a wonderful team of book reviewers who are passionate writers and readers and who post excellent, thoughtful reviews of books in this genre.
Q: How can readers and writers learn more about Ashland Creek Press?
A: Visit us online at www.AshlandCreekPress.com — readers can purchase books directly from links on our book pages, and we also have free downloads of sample chapters from every book we publish. If you scroll down to the bottom of our home page, you can download our free Eco-Fiction Sampler, which features excerpts of our environmental fiction.
For writers, we’re currently open to submissions for our Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, which is a book award for environmental prose judged by bestselling author and recent PEN/Faulkner Award winner Karen Joy Fowler. The award includes $1,000 and book publication. Writers can visit www.siskiyouprize.com to learn more.