Meet the people behind the pages

BarbBarb Martin, Director

How long have you been with the Press? I’ve been publishing books for over thirty years, and have been at SIU Press for fifteen years. I love working in scholarly publishing because I’m able to grow and learn about a variety of subjects while I work.

What are you reading? I’ve become a regional history buff. The nineteenth century was Illinois’ heyday, so like many of our authors, I’ve been stuck in the nineteenth century for years. Even most of the fiction I read is set in the nineteenth century. I’m currently re-reading the Sherlock Holmes stories. I read many of the stories as a teenager, but I understand and appreciate them much more as an adult.

Who is your favorite band? For thirty years I would have replied The Who, but I don’t rock out as much as I used to. Today, my favorite band is Crimson Express, the Murphysboro High School Marching Band. They work hard and put on a wonderful jazzy show every year. They make it easy and fun to be a fan.

Which are your favorite sports teams? I grew up as a Chicago North-Sider in a sports-oriented family. I am a diehard Cub fan, which means I am an eternal optimist. I won’t say “next year for sure,” but the Cubs did just hire a new manager, and the analysts say he is “the missing puzzle piece to take the Cubs to the World Series.” The future is bright!

I also follow professional football (Da Bears), hockey (the mighty Blackhawks), and NASCAR racing (no favorite driver or team).

What’s your favorite place in Southern Illinois? There are many fascinating places to explore in Illinois, but my favorite right now is along the Ohio River in southernmost Illinois. The river is beautiful along that stretch—the area and the towns are rich with Illinois history.

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AngelaAngela Moore-Swafford, Rights and Permissions Manager

How long have you been with the Press? I will celebrate my eighteenth anniversary with SIU Press in March 2015.

What are you reading? What’s next on your TBR list? Currently I’m reading Ebola, by Dr. William T. Close (who also happens to be the father of actress Glenn Close). An American surgeon, he was in Zaire during the first major outbreak of Ebola in 1976.

Best show to binge-watch? With the winter months approaching my Roku will be put to good use. Right now I’m streaming The Mind of a Chef, narrated by Anthony Bourdain. My go-to show is Friday Night Lights.

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Dawn Vagner, Accounts Payable Dawn

How long have you been with the Press? I have been with the Press for 10 years.

What are you reading? What’s next on your TBR list? I am reading Gone Girl.  Not sure what is next on my list—probably something that doesn’t require a dictionary or a lot of concentration.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with you, what would it be? Do they make edible books? If so, that is the one I would have.

What are some of your hobbies? My hobbies? Hmmm. . . Is drinking considered a hobby?

Best movie of all time? Do Lifetime movies count?

Best show to binge-watch? Roseanne and Law and Order. Isn’t that a great combination?

Tell us something exciting that happened to you this year. I found out that I am going to be a grandma!

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Karl Kageff, Editor in Chief

How long have you been with the Press? About 17 years.

What are you reading? What’s next on your TBR list? In addition to manuscripts submitted to the Press, I’m reading David Sedaris’s When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Next on my list is The Sportswriter, by Richard Ford.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with you, what would it be? The Power of Now, by Eckhardt Tolle.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one album with you, what would it be? Kind of Blue, by Miles Davis.

What are some of your hobbies? Golf, playing guitar and singing, listening to music, hiking.

What are some of the best movies you’ve seen this year? American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, Dirty Pretty Things, The Master.

Best show to binge-watch? Breaking Bad.

Favorite place in / thing about Southern Illinois? All the beautiful natural areas—lakes, forests, wildlife and hiking areas.

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SylviaSylvia Frank Rodrigue, Executive Editor

How long have you been with the Press? I’ve been acquiring books for the Press, working long distance, for ten years. When I started working for SIU Press, I lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but I moved back home to New England seven years ago. Now I live in Easton, Massachusetts, which is halfway between Boston and Providence.

What are you reading? What’s next on your TBR list? Recently I finished listening to The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, a fantastic novel about American slaves, identity, the old west, and John Brown, written in a style reminiscent of Mark Twain. Loved it! I just finished reading Diamond in the Rough, Shawn Colvin’s autobiography. Did you know she grew up in Carbondale? Next on my list, for my book club, is Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with you, what would it be? May I take a solar-powered iPad, complete with book reading apps? If there isn’t such a thing, there should be.

What are some of your hobbies? Reading, knitting, and gardening.

Best movie you’ve seen this year? Philomena 

Best movie of all time? One I watch every time it comes on is Steel Magnolias. Every fall my professor husband and I watch Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School.

Best show to binge-watch? So many! Breaking Bad, Foyle’s War, 30 Rock, Bomb Girls, Parks and Recreation.

Tell us something exciting that happened to you this year. I won two games of pool!

What are you looking forward to, Press-wise, in 2015? I’m eager to see the first two Looking for Lincoln books in print: Springfield and Mormon Country.

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Kristine Priddy, Acquisitions Editor

How long have you been with the Press? I’ve been with the Press for fourteen years.

What’s next on your TBR list? Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders, and Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose, by Raymond Carver.

Best show to binge-watch? Game of Thrones, True Detective.

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Judy Verdich, Chief Clerk

How long have you been with the Press?
Permanently—7 months.

What are you reading? What’s next on your TBR list? A sci-fi series called Wool, then back to Sherlock Holmes. Or maybe I’ll dig in to our Concise Lincoln Library series.

What are some of your hobbies? Reading, crocheting, birdwatching when I can, puzzles and word games.

Best movie you’ve seen this year? I’ve been obsessed with Saving Mr. Banks.

Best show to binge-watch? Downton Abbey or Walking Dead!

Favorite place in / thing about Southern Illinois? The people, and the fishing—which I don’t do enough of.

Tell us something exciting that happened to you this year. Two wonderful things happened: I got a job here at SIU Press, and I found out I get a new grandchild next year!

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WayneWayne Larsen, Project Editor

How long have you been with the Press? I started at SIU Press in May 2000.

What are you reading? What’s next on your TBR list? I’m reading a bio of Bob Fosse right now, having just finished The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Next up is The Winter’s Tale, for a Shakespeare reading group I belong to.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with you, what would it be? It would have to be a book about how to survive on a desert island.

What are some of your hobbies? I raise vegetables in a backyard garden, collect comic books of the 1960s, play Words with Friends online, and solve Sudoku and crossword puzzles.

Best movie you’ve seen this year? The Drop.

Best movie of all time? Citizen Kane.

Best show to binge-watch? 30 Rock.

Favorite place in Southern Illinois? The drive down route 127 between Murphysboro and Alto Pass in fall.

Tell us something exciting that happened to you this year. I got legally married for the first time, to my longtime spouse, David Rush. (We’ve been married without legal recognition for twenty years.)

What are you looking forward to, Press-wise, in 2015? The latest volume in the Illustrated Flora of Illinois series by Robert H. Mohlenbrock.

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Linda Buhman, Graphic DesignerLinda

How long have you been with the Press? Depends which century you’re talking about. I first worked here starting in 1987. I came back last year. I’ve worked here, off and on, full-time, part-time, and freelance, about 12 years.

What are you reading? I’m currently reading The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown, on my phone. Next up will be one of about 50 books piled up next to my nightstand, ranging from The Farm, by Tom Rob Smith, to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with you, what would it be? Probably The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. Otherwise, it would be impossible to pick just one.

What are some of your hobbies? I used to have some hobbies, and am just now remembering what they were and am starting to do them again. Hiking, going to movies, puttering in the yard. I don’t count reading as a hobby; it’s more like a necessary life function.

Best movie you’ve seen this year? Gone Girl. Don’t tell anybody, but it’s the ONLY movie I’ve seen this year, at least at the theater.

Best show to binge-watch? The Wire, definitely.

Favorite place in / thing about Southern Illinois? The scenery. Certain views take my breath away, every time I see them. For example, the vista on Rt. 4 heading north toward Campbell Hill, the view from Bald Knob, parts of Giant City Park, and of course, Garden of the Gods.

What are you looking forward to, Press-wise, in 2015? We have some interesting titles coming up, including some art-heavy books, which are always fun to do. There’s something different to do every day.

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LolaLola Starck, Production Technician

How long have you been with the Press? I started at SIU Press in July 2006. My job includes readying art, typesetting, cartography, making e-books, and archiving. I get the books ready to be sent to the printer.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with you, what would it be? Wilderness Survival for Dummies, by Cameron M. Smith and John F. Haslett.

What are some of your hobbies? Gardening, cooking, reading, playing with grandkids.

Best movie you’ve seen this year? I’ve been running with a much younger crowd, so think I’ll have to say Frozen, but in all honesty, I also enjoyed Planes. I haven’t seen too many new adult movies this year.

Best movie of all time? Citizen Kane.

Best show to binge-watch? Is it too sick to say Dexter? It is? Well then, Breaking Bad.

Favorite place in / thing about Southern Illinois? That’s easy, nature’s beauty, places like Cove Hollow and Panther’s Den.

Tell us something exciting that happened to you this year. We vacationed in Chicago, built a deck, and welcomed our newest grandson in September.

What are you looking forward to, Press-wise, in 2015? I am looking forward to reading my current project: Kay Rippelmeyer’s The Civilian Conservation Corps in Southern Illinois. It comes out in February 2015.

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Amy AAmy Alsip, Editorial Assistant

How long have you been with the Press? I started at the Press as an editorial, design, and production intern last summer and am now the editorial assistant.

What are you reading? What’s next on your TBR list? I’m currently reading Charlotte Brontë’s “Caroline Vernon” from her Tales of Angria and Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager, which is part of the Outlander series. My to-be-read list includes, among many others, Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters, Helene Moglen’s Charlotte Brontë: The Self Conceived, Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems, John Galsworthy’s The Man of Fortune, and the rest of Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with you, what would it be? Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

What are some of your hobbies? Reading (obviously), baking/cooking, painting, hiking, and doing crafts (e.g., pumpkin carving and making Christmas ornaments)

Best movie you’ve seen this year? Inside Llewyn Davis is definitely the most interesting movie I’ve seen this year, and it has a fantastic Americana/folk soundtrack.

Best movie of all time? Midnight in Paris

Best show to binge-watch? Lately it’s been Veronica Mars, but I can rewatch multiple episodes of Gilmore Girls, Doctor Who, and BBC’s Sherlock anytime.

Favorite place in / thing about Southern Illinois? My favorite place is Wildcat Bluff; I go hiking there every winter. Event-wise, I enjoy Fort Massac’s Encampment in October.

What are you looking forward to, Press-wise, in 2015? I’m excited about continuing to work on Andreasen’s Looking for Lincoln and Owens’s Writing Childbirth.

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AmyAmy Etcheson, Marketing Manager

What do you do at the Press? I’m a member of the management team and am on the editorial board. I work with our domestic and international sales reps and present our books at sales conference each season. I help determine book titles, cover designs, print quantities, and prices. I manage the departmental budget, oversee a few employees, and attend LOTS of meetings.

Best book you’ve read this year? Tenth of December, by George Saunders

What are some of your hobbies? Cooking, entertaining, reading, working out, boating, singing, playing piano, having dance parties with my daughters.

Favorite places in / things about Southern Illinois? All of the outdoor recreational opportunities (hiking at Giant City, canoeing on Cedar Lake, cruising in our 1967 houseboat, camping at Little Grassy, etc.), the wineries, Scratch Brewery, local bands, my gym, my neighborhood, my midcentury house.

Tell us something exciting that happened to you this year. My daughters started having regular sleepovers at their grandparents’ house, which allows my husband and me free nights to hear live music downtown. I learned to climb up the ropes at my gym. My family attended a “family camp,” which was loads of fun and included hiking, kayaking, swimming, horseback riding, a ropes course, archery, and more. I became a softball and soccer coach.

What are you looking forward to, Press-wise, in 2015? A new website (!); a larger marketing staff; continuing to work with Morris Library; and the books The Marion Experiment, Michael Moore and the Rhetoric of Documentary, Engineering Victory, and Political Literacy in Rhetoric and Composition.

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 Bridget Brown, PublicistBridget 1

How long have you been with the Press? I just got my ten-year pin.

What’s on your TBR list? Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. I also want to read Jim Gaffigan’s Food: A Love Story and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.

What are some of your hobbies? I enjoy talking about running as though I’m ever going to actually do it, hiking, and spending way more time on Twitter than is healthy.

Best show to binge-watch? We had a great run watching every episode of That Mitchell and Webb Look. Everyone needs to watch it so I can start referencing it incessantly.

Best album of 2014? It’s entirely possible that I listened to only one full music album this year, and that would be Weird Al Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun. I am fine with this. #WordCrimes

Tell us something exciting that happened to you this year. I saw a video on YouTube of a dog fetching a beer from a refrigerator, so I adopted a dog.

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J. Lynanne Page, Marketing Specialist

How long have you been with the Press? Seven months.

What are you reading? What’s next on your TBR list?  I just finished The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rindell, and I’m looking for a copy of The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. I’ve also been reading It Happened in Southern Illinois by John W. Allen (published by SIU Press!). I thought I knew a lot about Southern Illinois, but this book is teaching me about the earliest Illinois settlements and showing me what people in those settlements thought and felt. When I finish it, I’m going to read Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland, but I’m going to have to pace myself. My great-grandfather was a coal miner here in Southern Illinois in the ’20s and ’30s, so the difficulties miners experienced and the impacts of the coal-mining industry on this region are really going to resonate for me.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with you, what would it be?  The Portable E. M. Forster. (I don’t know if this book actually exists, but it should; if it doesn’t, then Tipping the Velvet, by Sarah Waters.)

What are some of your hobbies? Writing, reading, binge-watching Netflix, and spending time with my dog.

Best movie you’ve seen this year? The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best show to binge-watch? Orphan Black

Favorite place in Southern Illinois? Ferne Clyffe. It doesn’t get as much press as Giant City and Garden of the Gods, but it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

Best album of 2014? St. Vincent.

Tell us something exciting that happened to you this year.  I moved back to Southern Illinois from Central Illinois and started my new career in publishing!

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Lana Fritsch, Sales Assistant Lana

How long have you been with the Press? Since March 2014

What are you reading? What’s next on your TBR list? Right now I am reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, and I also read The Book with No Pictures, by B. J. Novak, to my four-year-old daughter about 5 times a day. It’s hilarious, and I have it memorized. I’ve been on the library’s waitlist for The Goldfinch since spring, so hopefully that will be my next read.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with you, what would it be? I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb

What are some of your hobbies? Cooking, reading, writing, blogging, and running, although I haven’t gone on a run since I got pregnant last November!

Best movie you’ve seen this year? Amy loaned me Fantastic Mr. Fox, and we loved it! It was such a cute movie, and it was fun to share a Wes Anderson movie with Grace.

Best movie of all time? When Harry Met Sally!

Best show to binge-watch? Parenthood, but it’s the last season so I’m going to have to find something else to start watching. Suggestions?

Tell us something exciting that happened to you this year. At the end of July we moved into a 100-year-old farmhouse, and then one week later I gave birth to Cecilia Lorraine, our second (and last!) darling daughter. Right now we are still in the process of making it feel like home, and I’ve seen more (and bigger!) bugs in the last 3 months than I ever thought possible.

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LoganJerry Richardson, Systems Analyst

How long have you been with the Press? I just joined the Press on November 3rd.

What are you reading? What’s next on your TBR list? I’m reading Shadows of Bourbon Street (Jade Calhoun Series 5). I’m not sure what’s next.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book with you, what would it be? Battlefield Earth, by L. Ron Hubbard.

What are some of your hobbies? Billiards, bowling, and computer games.

Best movie you’ve seen this year? Divergent.

Best movie of all time? Star Wars.

Best show to binge-watch? Fringe.

Favorite place in Southern Illinois? Ferne Clyffe.

Best album of 2014? Kenny Chesney, The Big Revival.

Tell us something exciting that happened to you this year. I got the chance to become part of SIU Press.