Earlier, I mentioned that my latest WIP includes elephants. I also promised I would tell you more. So, tonight, I thought I'd keep that promise. I've been knee deep in imaginary elephant dung all day, and I need a break from the story telling.
Incidentally, this photo is of me feeding apple bites to Moja. She and her sister, Jenny, were the first elephants I ever got to know. It was an experience I won't soon forget. They both used to like to explore my person with the ends of their trunks, searching for any treats and nibbles they might find. Moja was particularly good at retrieving these items from my pockets when given half a chance.
Writing this novel has been exhilarating, because I can turn my affection for these huge, beautiful animals into a vibrant story on the page. I get to show my love for elephants through my character's eyes. The current working title is The Elephant Keeper. Writing this novel has also been much more difficult than I imagined. The memories of my days with the real elephants return, and all my feelings for these animals, many of whom are no longer living, come rushing back.
Because I wanted to honor some of my elephant friends, I've chosen to use a few of their names for my fictional elephant characters. Nita and Teela, two of the friends whose names I've borrowed, both died of a fast-acting and incurable disease that baffled our zoo's veterinarians for some time. I used to love watching these girls interact with each other on exhibit. They shared a powerful family bond and so much obvious affection. Each time I type their names into my story, it's as if, for a moment, I can bring them back to life and enjoy their company again. Nita and Teela, this novel will definitely be dedicated to you!