I always have to ask, what sparked this particular novel?--Marshal Zeringue
JP: I have three kids, and my daughter – my youngest – was getting ready to go to college, which meant I’d be an empty nester. It was daunting, to say the least. Then I read a fact: In the wild, an elephant mother and daughter stay together until one of them dies. I thought, How enlightened! Why can’t we be like that!? I began to do a little digging on elephants, and learned how advanced their cognition is. And when I discovered that they actually grieve and experience and process loss, I was completely hooked, and knew I would be writing about what it meant to be left behind…and also that I had my profession for the character of Alice.
I know you actually worked with the elephants at an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. Did you have any preconceived ideas that were changed by your experience? What surprised you the most?
JP: I was privileged to spend time at The Elephant Sanctuary – and I really do mean that, because the whole point of the sanctuary is that their elephants are no longer on display but in a lovely retirement setting. Since this was my first experience with elephants I didn’t have many preconceived notions, but I was...[read on]