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Book Signing for Professor

Excerpt from Bad Habitats

After seven years of writing, editing, and bursts of creativity, Alisa Slaughter’s book, "Bad Habitats," is out and ready to be celebrated.

In honor of Slaughter, an associate professor of creative writing at Redlands, a book signing will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. April 10 in the Browsing Room, Hall of Letters 213. Slaughter will be reading selections from her book.

“This is a collection of six linked short stories, all with animals as their main characters,” Slaughter said. “Of course, the animals are very human, with human worries: Cougar can't figure out how to make a place for himself as he enters adulthood, Raven's house has been foreclosed and she's taken up with some shady characters, Duck and Heron have to figure out how to handle the new and unfamiliar, Coyote has a new love in her life, but it may cause her more problems than she can handle, Raccoon has disappeared and no one can make anything work without him.”

According to Slaughter, the book is about relationships, as well as California.

“All of the stories are set in Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, the Coachella Valley, and the Bay Area,” she said. “California's human and natural environment has its delights, and its problems, including habitat loss, climate disruption, economic volatility, and personal alienation, and they all appear in the stories – but because the stories are about animals, the conflict can be urgent in a different way. I really love Los Angeles, and some of the other odd corners of California – the Salton Sea, for example – that seem to be just bursting with stories, but I was finding it hard to write straightforward realistic fiction without encountering a whole variety of dead ends. The animals solved a lot of problems.”

The first story was published in The Santa Monica Review in 2006, and the final two were completed last summer thanks to two residencies, AIR le Parc in France and L’A.I.R de Fez in Morocco. In December, Gold Line Press, an imprint at the University of Southern California, accepted the manuscript, and it was published in March for the first time.

“Gold Line Press is a small organization, and fairly new,” Slaughter said. “It's an example of an exciting trend in publishing: books and journals curated by communities of editors – often associated with universities, non-profit collectives, or ad-hoc literati – that are printed in small batches dictated by demand. Think Paris in the 1920s, not New York in the 1950s. My work is too odd and experimental to ever find a huge audience, and this is the perfect way for it to find the readers who will appreciate it.”

Slaughter is looking forward to sharing her work with members of the University community, especially her colleagues and students in the creative writing department.

“They have been so inspirational and supportive over the years,” she said. “I couldn't maintain my writing without them, and events like the School of Music's recitals and opera productions, the art shows in Ann Peppers Gallery, the theater department's support of all kinds of professional and student productions, and our own Visiting Writers Series, have also really created an artistic community here. Writing is kind of lonely, and as a teacher I'm focused on my students' work; an event on this campus is a nice habitat for my own creatures.”

The first run of Bad Habitats sold out in a month, and a second edition is being printed. It is currently available at the Prison Library Project bookstore in Claremont, and will soon be at Skylight Books in Los Feliz, Beyond Baroque in Venice Beach, and Pegasus Books in Berkeley.


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