Midge Raymond is an Ashland-based international author who is best known for her novel "My Last Continent" and the award-winning short-story collection "Forgetting English." She will be appearing alongside Victor Lodato ("Edgar and Lucy") from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 26, at Bloomsbury Books for a free, public conversation to be moderated by SOU linguistics expert Ed Battistella. I sat down with Raymond to talk about her current projects and life in Ashland.
JG: Midge, you're an author, but you also own and run a publishing house. How have you integrated the two?
MR: Even before becoming a writer, I worked in publishing in New York and Boston for many years, and understanding how the industry works was invaluable for me as I began writing and publishing fiction. As a publisher myself now, it’s helpful to understand what it’s like on both sides of the fence; no one but a writer can know how it feels to put a book out into the world, and as a writer I can empathize with the stresses of getting a book out there, as well as offer the sort of “tough love” an introverted writer needs to promote her book, because every writer needs to play a huge role in book promotion these days.
JG: Do you sit down to write for a reader, or when you have an idea, or out of habit? Talk about your method.
MR: My new projects always begin when I get an idea, and it’s usually something that I witness and become curious about. "My Last Continent" grew out of a short story I wrote after a trip to Antarctica, when I saw a man slip and fall at a penguin colony on the Antarctic peninsula. He was fine, but I immediately began to wonder what might’ve happened, there at the bottom of the world, if he hadn’t gotten up. The short story grew into a novel when I imagined another scenario that was of concern to the naturalists on our expedition: What would happen if a large cruise liner ran into trouble in the Southern Ocean?
JG: What creative process has been the most satisfying for you in recent years?
MR: Finishing "My Last Continent," which was about 10 years in the making, was extremely satisfying. But I find joy in any creative process, whether writing a short story, taking photographs, or editing our Ashland Creek Press projects.
JG: Tell us about any upcoming projects.
MR: After finishing "My Last Continent," I wanted to do nothing but write short stories, with an emphasis on short. But now I’m ready for another long project and am working on a new novel. Ashland Creek Press also has several wonderful new projects on the horizon, books that deal with environmental and animal protection, and I’m excited about ushering those out into the world as well.
— Ashland resident Jeffrey Gillespie is a Daily Tidings columnist, arts reviewer and freelance writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.