Thursday, July 06, 2006

University of California press publicist is a Chico State University grad


Heather Vaughan is a mid-list publicist for the University of California Press (headquartered in Berkeley). When she told me she attended Chico State University, I had to find out more. What follows is an edited e-mail interview.

How long were you in Chico?

"I lived in Chico for five years (1995-2000), while attending CSU, Chico. I graduated in 2000 with a BA in English and minors in theater and biology. I spent most of my non-class time in the green room of the theater department."

Do you have a memorable personal story that exemplifies Chico to you?

"One of my English teachers, Lois Bueler (who retired this year), was an inspiration in a lot of ways. Lois ... had this amazing ability to inspire you to do your best." Through some challenging experiences that semester, Vaughn writes, her professor "made me realize that if I really wanted to do something, all I had to do was try as hard as I could, and I could find a way. Lois made me want to try harder, because she had been so dedicated to teaching despite the difficulties in her life."

Why did you leave Chico?

"I left Chico to look for a publishing job in the San Francisco Bay Area ... at a small business-book publisher. In 2004, I graduated with a master's in Visual Culture: Costume Studies from New York University. I moved back to the Bay Area in November 2005 ... and ended up back in publishing."

How did you get the job of "mid-list publicist"?

"I had seen the job posted on several publishing industry Web sites and knew I had the skills necessary to work in the field. I applied in February, went through the interview process, and was hired in early March. My interests (science, theater, art and fashion history, film) definitely helped me get this job (which involves publicizing books in a large variety of academic fields)."

What exactly IS a "mid-list publicist"?

"I handle the publicity for the scholarly/academic titles with print runs smaller than 2,000 copies. This is actually the majority of books that we publish. The topics include everything from science to music theory to anthropology. I also handle two smaller, trade series (the California Natural History Guide Series and The Huntington Library Series). There are four other publicists at the press who handle the remaining trade titles. For the most part, my job consists of getting the academic books reviewed in scholarly publications and print media. However, I do help set up radio interviews, bookstore events and lectures for the trade books I do handle."

Your "other job" is a "fashion and textile historian." What is that?

"Someone who explores history, culture and society through clothing and textiles created by various groups. My experience has been extremely varied, including work as a museum curator, researcher, lecturer, author and as a historical resource for other museums, auction houses and individuals. I am currently working on an article for a juried publication, Dress (a Costume Society of America publication) and on several chapters for an encyclopedia of fashion (1900-1920 and 1920-1939), to be published by Greenwood Press in 2007. I also hope to publish my master's thesis in book form. (It) examines the fashion design career of Natacha Rambova, the one-time wife of Rudolph Valentino."

I wish Vaughan the best and thank her for helping to keep books alive and for letting us glimpse a publicist's life.

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to Copyright 2006 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission.

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