The Mourning Parade back story

It's time for the back story for my latest novel (set for a July 18, 2017 release) THE MOURNING PARADE! I'm so excited to share this book with you. I've always loved animals, but this book may actually help some of the animals I love.

Before I start, a reminder: I'm coming across the United States to promote this book in July/August. As we come closer to the dates, I'll be sharing more details, but suffice it to say, I'd LOVE TO MEET YOU!!!

Now, for the story:

The inspiration behind THE MOURNING PARADE began long ago when my mother collected little porcelain elephants. "They must have upraised trunks," she'd tell us. So we bought them for her. When she passed away, we found ceramic, glass, and metal elephants, as well as elephant jewelry and all kinds of other pieces that featured her favorite animal.

In 2014, more than ten years after her death, I visited Thailand to see her beloved elephants in their native habitat. The trip was fabulous, but the highlight was the time I spent at an elephant sanctuary in the Kanchabouri Province.

A small rattling truck flew down Thailand's winding, two-lane highway stretching from where I was staying (a jungle hotel that could only be reached by longboats that sped between jungle cliffs on both sides of the River Kwai) to the elephant sanctuary, more than an hour and a half away. The welcome hot breeze whipped away the perspiration I wore 24/7 since arriving in Thailand. I was the only passenger, and the driver didn't speak English, so I spent the whole ride drinking in the green jungles and mountain spires, realizing we headed even deeper into the mountains. Huge plantations of cantalope and watermelon, fields of rice paddies, roadside stands where Thai locals sold everything from produce to straw hats.

When we finally arrived, the entry road led another mile back into an area where I finally saw the giant grayish pink animals I'd come to see. They gathered around a raised cement walkway, which I would later find out was their "eating station."

Because I was early, no one from the sanctuary spoke to him, so I wandered around and went to visit some of the elephants. I had no fear, though I know that any wild animal, even the ones families trust, can revert to that wildness once spooked or angered.

That thought stuck with me. The ever-present question novelists ask themselves repeated over and over throughout the time I spent with the elephants and the people who cared for them. What if?

I used the sanctuary I visited as a template for the one where Natalie and Sophie live, though I changed where buildings were located and added Sophie's enclosure, as well as Mali's farm. One of the first things I did was to sketch out a little map of the sanctuary.

I asked lots of questions, though I'd already read a number of books prior to arriving in Thailand. I made notes, when I could. Most of the time, I committed my impressions to memory as I fed the elephants a hot mixture of calcium powder, rice and squash. I tried to savor the emotion I felt when one of their elephants connected with me, staring deep into my eyes as I fed her.

We cut palm leaves for food, chopped vegetables, watched the herd in the mud pits, but the moment we waited for in the afternoon was swimming with the elephants in the river.

I know now that even the very careful instructions we had to stay on the elephant's neck weren't enough to protect the animals. I know now, after lots more research and time at an elephant camp in Kenya, as well, that we should not put any weight on an elephant's fragile spinal bones.

For the next two years, I wrote the story of the veterinarian, Natalie, and the elephant with whom she falls in love. And over that period of time, my mother sat on my shoulder more than once, sometimes commenting on the story, sometimes just offering comfort or support. But she's been here the whole time.

I hope readers will also fall in love with Natalie and Sophie and Thailand.

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon, and I'm posting a Readers' Guide on my website The Mourning Parade The Mourning Parade by Dawn Reno Langley that will include links to questions, music, recipes and other goodies.
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