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Zoom Author Event: Twice Baked Tales: A Conversation

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Jillian in the Borderlands

Jillian Guzmán, who is nine years old at the beginning of the book, communicates through drawings rather than speech as she travels with her mother, Angie O’Malley, throughout the borderlands of Arizona and northwestern Mexico. Later she creates survival maps for border crossers and paints murals at the Casa de los Olvidados, a refuge in Sonora run by the traditional healer Juana of God. These darkly funny tales, focusing on Mexican-American, Euro-American, and Mexican characters, feature visionary experiences, ghosts, faith healers, a deer’s head that speaks, a dog who channels spirits of the dead—and a young woman whose drawings begin to create realities instead of just reflecting them.

Beth Alvarado is the author of Anxious Attachments, winner of the 2020 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, and Jillian in the Borderlands: A Cycle of Rather Dark Tales, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press this fall. She is core faculty for OSU-Cascades Low Residency MFA Program.


Luci Sykes, maliciously deprived of oxygen at birth, is subjected to a lobotomy at thirteen by her powerful father. She emerges from her childhood silence to become the supernova genius behind Olympia Navigation, producer of the world’s most intuitive GPS systems. When her hermetic mother, Maggie, dies, events are set in motion to embroil Luci’s twin brother, Tokker, separated from at birth and long hidden on a subsistence farm in the Midwest, and BEACON, Olympia’s penultimate GPS system, in a plan to foil Luci’s suspected plot to end the human race. Tokker and BEACON embark on a cross-country scavenger hunt spanning Oregon to New York, abetted by the likes of Tilda Swinton and Daniel Day Lewis in this darkly funny, unlikely buddy story of humans and machines and the earth.

Irene Cooper is the author of Committal, a speculative spy-fy novel from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. Poems & reviews appear in The Feminist Wire, Phoebe, Cathexis Northwest Press, The Rumpus, Denver Quarterly, VoiceCatcher & elsewhere. She co-edits The Stay Project & co-facilitates Blank Pages Workshops in Oregon, where she lives with her people & a corgi.

Origin Stories

Origin Stories is a brief collection of vividly re-imagined biblical tales sometimes inspired by a mere sentence from the original. The domestic lives of such characters as Adam and Eve, Samson and Delilah, and David and Bathsheba are shown in a state of timelessness that reflects our present moment and theirs, as if to say the continuing mundane is shaped by these biblical tales whether we are aware of it or not. With insight, humor and lush language, these characters—whether in a garden, on a beach, in the bedroom, or a corporate office—are rendered in settings wanton and overflowing with resplendent humanity.

Brigitte Lewis is a writer whose work has appeared in DIAGRAM, Hobart, The Southampton Review, a Lambda Literary award-winning issue of Foglifter and more. She is working on a novel about climate change, grieving, and creating language for a world increasingly defined by what is or will become absent. She lives in Oregon and can always smell a mixture of sage and juniper in the air.

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