Writing for Animals

By Midge Raymond,

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Ever since a trip to Antarctica twenty years ago — long before travel there was as popular as it is now — my writing shifted toward animals. Travel has always inspired my writing (see Forgetting English), but visiting the very end of the earth made me realize that, while the continent and its creatures are so very far away, we are all connected. And everything we do from other continents — from eating meat to fishing to driving — affects the rest of the world, including Antarctica.

My Last Continent focused on penguins — and my new novel, FLOREANA (coming in early 2025; stay tuned!) focuses on another species of penguin, as well as many other animals. And in the mystery novel I co-authored with John Yunker, Devils Island, the endangered Tasmanian devil plays an important role in the story.

Likewise, the boutique press John and I founded in 2011, Ashland Creek Press, has evolved: We still focus on environmental literature (which was hard to find in 2011), but now that mainstream publishing has embraced climate fiction, we’re focusing more on animals. For whatever reasons (and there are many), the close connection between animals and the environment still eludes most people — mostly the fact that eating so many of them is destroying our lands, rainforests, air, and oceans.

And because literature is such a powerful way to open hearts and minds (what’s better than a great story for learning something new?), John and I started teaching Writing for Animals, a four-week class based on the ACP anthology Writing for Animals. It’s available as a self-paced online class — and this March, we’re offering another live class via Zoom.

We were thrilled by the response of students and so happy to learn how many wonderful writers are interested in advocating for animals. Our aim with the class is to help writers convey animals with authenticity and empathy in their work … and we learn as much as we share along the way. We also talk about how to get your animal-themed work into the world. As with environmental fiction years ago, it could be hard to find a publisher to embrace the topic. But it’s possible — and so important to get this work out into the world.

Below is what a couple of our students are saying … see more writer reviews here. And for more on the class and to register, click here.

“John and Midge are knowledgeable, positive, and generous. Their class is one part support group, one part craft lesson, one part animal education, and one part industry talk.” — Heather Marie Spitzberg

“This class is fantastic. It changed my writing and I sold my novel afterwards!” — Sharon J. Wishnow, author of The Pelican Tide

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