Vampire novel set in Ashland

Another young adult vampire novel has hit the already-saturated vampire book market, but "Out of Breath" is a well-written novel that will be especially intriguing for Ashlanders or anybody who enjoys visiting the hometown of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The book is set in Ashland, although the town has been renamed Lithia. A 19-year-old girl running away from a troubled past arrives as a homeless youth in town.

Luckily, Kat Jones doesn't remain homeless for long after she is offered a job and a place to stay by the owners of Lithia Runners, a shoe and apparel store obviously modeled after Rogue Valley Runners downtown. Kat is a fiercely competitive runner who soon begins training for Cloudline, a renamed version of the grueling Mt. Ashland Hill Climb where runners in real life push themselves to run from town to the summit of Mount Ashland.

As she gets to know more people, Kat finds herself torn between an attractive but mysterious actor with a local theater, and a young man who works at Lithia Food Co-Op and shares her vegan values. When one of Kat's running partners disappears on a trail, she slowly realizes that vampires lurk in Lithia — and some of them are among her closest companions.

In keeping with the renaming of real spots in Ashland, "Out of Breath" was written by a mystery author who goes by the pen name Blair Richmond. I kept looking for mistakes in the book that would tell me the author was a tourist with only a passing knowledge of Ashland, but couldn't find any. Ashland Creek Press, which released the book on Halloween, is remaining close-lipped on the identity of the author.

That has me looking at local writer friends, runners and tourists, not to see whether they are vampires, but to guess whether they might have penned this novel.

Author mysteries aside, "Out of Breath" is an entertaining, fast-paced book that would make a good holiday present for that teen or young adult in your life — especially if that person is a budding author who might be inspired by a book with an Ashland setting.

Speaking of gift books, wine enthusiasts might like "Rogue Valley Wine," Ashland winemaker Eric Weisinger and freelance writer MJ Daspit's look at the history of wine in our valley. It's available at the Ashland Historic Railroad Museum, located upstairs at 258 A St., Suite 7. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and the first and second Fridays of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association recently released a holiday catalog of books available at independent bookstores.

My gift picks include the photograph-rich "Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees," "On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life" and "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual," with paintings by my favorite illustrator, Maira Kalman.

For artsy types, "Finish This Book" features pages that readers complete, and "Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed" showcases unusual tattoos. "Drawing from Memory" is an autobiographical graphic novel by a Caldecott Medalist who apprenticed with a master cartoonist during World War II.

For a fun dose of reality, try "You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself."

Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or

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